Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's like Mayberry...only better!

I had heard this place described like Mayberry (ya know, The Andy Griffith Show?) before we moved here.  I describe it like that now.  We essentially live in a small town, only better!  Why is it better?  Well, I've lived in many smalls towns myself and while they are fantastic for the sense of community, it can often be difficult if you are a newbie.  So many small towns have residents who have lived there for years and can trace their family history back several generations.  Not so in gtmo.  Aside from a few Cuban exiles and some long-time workers, everyone is relatively new here.  And therefore, everyone is accepted readily.  There is a real "we're in this together" mentality.  Everyone seems willing to help each other out whether it is answering questions to learn the ropes or by sharing a rare item.  It is quite common here to loan a vehicle to a new neighbor, offer to pick up an item while visiting the states, or share an item that may be out of stock at the commissary.  Everyone knows everyone.  It is safe to allow the kids to watch the movie in the electronics department while grocery shopping.  If my kid is at the paintball range, I can call, ask for him by name, and the worker will know who I'm asking for.  We still have an operator.  If I don't know a number, I simply dial the operator and ask for it.

We have one gas station.  One store.  One movie theater.  One post office.  One McDonald's.  One chapel.  One school.  One hospital.  No traffic.  No DMV lines.  No stoplights.  No Wal-Mart.  No crime.

Yes, it's like Mayberry...only better!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

USCG Barque Eagle Visits Guantanamo Bay

We had a very special treat when the U.S. Coast Guard sailing vessel "Barque Eagle" visited Guantanamo Bay last week!  I have never seen such a majestic ship up close, let alone been able to board one and have a tour.  I was simply in awe.  The history is amazing.  Commissioned in 1936, it was originally a German Navy ship and was taken by the U.S. as a war trophy after WWII.  It was then commissioned as a USCG ship in 1946 and has been used to train cadets ever since.  The ship is nearly 300 ft long!  It is hard to get a real feel for how large this ship is by simply looking at pictures, but it is huge!

I found not only the ship to be amazing, but the history behind it as well piqued my interest.  Interested readers can find out more about the ship by reading here for the Wikipedia article or here for the official United States Coast Guard Academy site.  Enjoy!

The golden eagle on the bow used to hold a swastika in its talons.  Since acquiring the vessel, all swastikas on the boat have been removed or covered up.

One of three masts on the ship.  All the sails are set by hand which means a cadet must scale the rope ladders, climb out along the beams, untie the sails and set them.  

The ship is so large that it requires three helms with a person on each side to steer the rudder.  

My heart always swells with pride when I see Old Glory proudly flown

Eagle is not the original name of the ship.  The name Eagle dates back to the 1700's and several ships have carried the name.

Like the sails, the lines attached to them are also entirely set by manpower.  I was amazed to learn that there aren't any wenches to assist with the process!  I imagine that is partly what makes a voyage aboard the Eagle such a grueling experience.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gorgeous Flowers

Right now the island is blooming with tropical flowers in all sorts of vibrant colors.  My yard doesn't have many, but we do have a few.  I'm not even sure of the names of the various trees and flowers, but it doesn't diminish the fact that I thoroughly enjoy them!  Especially delightful is the fact that hummingbirds love these flowers and congregate regularly to drink the nectar.  I wish I had a picture of the hummingbirds, but they are too quick for me!

The flowers are beautiful, but Vincent's favorite part of this tree are these huge seed pods.  I'm pretty sure I've opened no less than 50 of these for him!

These grow right outside my front door.  The tree is very spindly though and there are only a few branches with sparse blooms.  Vincent loves to pick these and bring them to me by the handfuls.  I try and encourage him to leave them on the tree to enjoy, but he doesn't quite understand that just yet.  How can a mother say "no" to her son picking her flowers?

This one grows in our neighbor's yard.  Again, not sure of the name, but it looks and smells wonderful!

I do actually know the name for this one.  It is the pink plumeria and it smells even better than it looks! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Mango trees are plentiful here in gtmo and the season for the ripe fruit is upon us.  We have been enjoying fresh mangos for the last couple of weeks.  Mangos are one of our family's favorite fruits, so this is spectacular!  Not only is the fruit the best I've ever tasted, it is free!

Science fact of the day: Mango leaves, stems and sap contain a substance called urushriol - the same  substance found in poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak - and will cause a similar reaction. Vic learned this the hard way when he first arrived last summer!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Activities Galore

Has it really been over a month since my last post?  Trying to keep us with the busyness of life has kept me from the chance to stop and blog.  Anyone who says there isn't anything to do here is mistaken!  Along with my regular commitments of homeschooling and housekeeping, we have managed to keep a full (and sometimes overfull) schedule.  Baseball games, Soccer games, National Honor Society induction ceremony, Manatee watching (planning another post about this), Girl Scouts, VBS planning, and Birthdays are just a few of the activities that have managed to keep me on my toes.

So, I really hope to be back to blogging on a more regular basis!  Please stay tuned...