Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Safety First

"I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4000 Cubans, who are trained to kill me..."

Recognize that movie quote?  If you said Colonel Jessup from A Few Good Men, you would be correct. But, life here is really not like that at all.  At least not for those of us who live in base housing and work regular jobs.  I wouldn't want to discount the danger to the Marines here who do protect the fence line, but most of us never even get to see it.  It is simply not a part of our daily lives.

One of the things that I love about base life here is that it is safe.  And I'm not just talking about crime.  I'm talking about daily life.

Some examples:

  • The speed limit is 25 mph on the main streets, 15 mph in the residential sections and 5 mph if drivers see troops running in formation.  I think there is one road that I've seen that goes out to a beach where the speed limit is 30 mph
  • There are chain link fences that separate housing from the water.  Since there is so much water here, and most of the housing is relatively near water, the fences are very helpful.  I know it eases my mind.
  • Anytime that we see a pedestrian about to cross the road, it is expected that all vehicles will stop. No matter what.  And the vehicles do stop.  Every time.
  • Helmets must be worn at all times when riding a bicycle, skateboard or roller blades.  No questions.
  • 10 year olds may swim at the pool without a parent, but they must first demonstrate the ability to swim 25 yards.  There are always at least two lifeguards on duty at the pool and I think that I usually see three.
  • Tropical Storm Isaac was a perfect example of the safety measures employed on the base.  We were in our homes and everything secured about 24 hours before the storm.  I imagine if everyone in the states took storms this seriously, less life and property would be lost.
  • All of the construction sites that I have seen are entirely enclosed by chain link fences.  Then the work vehicles drive into the fence and close it before working.  Our neighborhood is currently under construction, so I have especially appreciated this.  I even went and spoke to the workers on the first day that we were here to make them aware of the presence of my children.  They assured me that they watch very carefully and that they are only allowed to drive 5 mph when they see children.
  • Beaches are closed at the first sign of bad weather.  The beaches remained closed for three days after TS Isaac.
  • I'm not entirely sure if this is a regulation or not, but everyone who runs, walks or bikes at night wears reflective gear.  
  • All of the playgrounds have that nice spongy padding under them to cushion falls.  There are also canopies to shade the equipment.  I consider that to be a safety issue because on more than one occasion, I've had a child get burned by a hot slide. 
With little children, I certainly appreciate the extra safety measures.  And for my older children, it is so nice to be able to let them jump on their bikes and head to the pool, the post office, the NEX or the library without a second thought.


  1. Joy, I found this blog when looking for one on Gitmo. I lived there in 4th and 5th grade (1970-1971). It was a wonderful place to live for a kid. Walk places, outdoor movies, beaches, and in our yard our own "Iggie."

    My brother and I ate what we called Mamasitas. They were small round fruit. My mom thinks they might have been something like a green lychee. Do they still have them? What are they?



  2. Hi Meme,

    So glad you found my blog! We are having a grand time living here. We have only been here for three weeks, so I haven't had tons of time to explore. So far, the only fruits that we have eaten are mangos and coconuts. There is one large tree with a small fruit on it that looks like a fig to me. It is small and round with lots of seeds in the middle. When I asked some Jamaicans about it, they called it a strangle fig and said that people don't eat it, only birds. I'll have to keep my eyes out for the mamacitas. In fact, I'll ask some of the long time Cuban and Jamaican residents to see if they can help me find it.


  3. Thanks Joy! I know you will love living there. I sure did. The water is fantastic! And the shells too.