Monday, May 5, 2014

Our News

January 23, 2014 - Not only did Vic and I celebrate our 17th Anniversary, we also signed a contract that extended his employment with the NEX in Gtmo to July of 2016!

January 28, 2014 - Vic developed sudden shortness of breath and had to be taken to the ER.  After a few hours of running various tests, it was determined that he had a massive saddle pulmonary embolism. Translation - he had a very large blood clot in his pulmonary artery leading out of his heart and down into both of his lungs.  Within four hours, him and I were being whisked away in an ambulance which then transferred us to a waiting jet headed for the nearest hospital in Miami.  There he underwent a procedure which placed catheters in his heart and both of his lungs which injected a clot-busting medicine directly to the clot.  His heart was under extreme stress.  Testing revealed that his right ventricle was dilated three times the normal size, his pressure was greater than 50, and it wasn't pumping the way it should be.

February 5 - After spending 3 days in the ICU, and then 5 more days in a regular room, he was discharged from the hospital. The placement of the catheters dissolved nearly all of his large clot and his heart was almost back to normal size, pressure was 35, and it was pumping correctly. We spent the next 4 weeks in FL while he recovered enough to make the trip back to Gtmo.  Doctors have given him a great prognosis!  

March 5 - We returned to Gtmo, met with the doctors here, and together determined that the best choice for Vic would to not continue to live on the island.  We have wonderful doctors here, but they are very limited with their facilities.  Any major emergencies require patients to be sent to the states.  That process can take precious hours that some patients simply don't have.  It is a risk too great that our family isn't willing to take.  

All of this brings me to this week.  Our family is leaving GTMO permanently, headed for another Navy Base back in the U.S.  We leave in just a few short days.  Our hearts are broken, and yet full of hope knowing that God is fully in charge.  Wherever He leads, we will go!  Above all, we are thankful for the experience of living here and that Vic is alive.  I will cherish every bit of our time here and look back with the fondest of memories!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Treasure Hunting

One of my favorite activities is treasure hunting on the beach.  Sea glass and shells are plentiful and I never tire of collecting it.  I collected the items in this picture below in less than two hours this morning.  Notice the large piece of cobalt blue.  Cobalt is hard to find, even harder to find in large pieces, and harder still to find one that is nice and smooth.  Also, it's hard to see, but just above the large blue pice, there are three pieces of light pink and just above that to the right, some lavender purple.  To the left of the purple, there is a clear glass piece that looks like either a bottle stopper or maybe the remnants of a wine glass.  Not sure, but either way, I love it.  In the background, there are piles of shells.  I love to sort my treasure by color, size, or style and then fill clear jars for display.  

Besides sea glass and shells, I often find sea urchins, sea fans, sea sponges, old bullet casings, and broken pieces of pottery.

I also love when I find pieces of glass with wording on it.  It's not uncommon to find old Coca-Cola bottles with "CUBA" stamped on the bottom.  I have a cobalt blue piece that was an old Vick's Vapor rub jar, before they starting using plastic.  Notice the large chunk of dark brown in the foreground, it has "...LLA COMPANIA..." stamped on it.  Not sure what kind of a bottle that would be, but it's fascinating to me none the less.  To many, theis is just trash, but I view it as a small glimpse into history. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rain, Rain, Come Our Way!

Rain is a rare commodity around these parts.  Yes, living closer to the equator automatically makes my mind think of lush rain forests, and while that may accurately describe other parts of Cuba, it isn't how Guantanamo Bay is.  Remember back to the weather science lessons in grade school about how when there is a mountain and the rain clouds come and the hit the mountain and all the rain dumps on one side and not the other?  Yup, that is pretty much what we are dealing with here.  GTMO is considered a semi-arrid region.  Not quite on par with a desert, but certainly not a tropical climate either.  

It can seem as though months will go by without a drop.  Everything turns brown, except for the gorgeous turquoise waters and the lush mangroves.  Rain is so uncommon that when it does, all the children scamper out to play in it and facebook explodes with posts like, "wow, it's raining!" or "thank goodness for the rain!"  

When it does rain though, plants and grasses suddenly turn green overnight and flowers blossom.  So do bugs.  Pesky little mosquitos and gnats seem to be reborn by the millions.  Thankfully the bugs don't last too long and return to manageable numbers fairly quickly.

***Tip for anyone who may be coming here***
We deal with mosquitos and gnats ( no-see-ums).  Standard bug sprays with deet works great for mosquitos, but not the no-see-ums.  For those bad boys, and they are bad, I've found that the absolute best repellent is Avon's Skin-So-Soft.  I buy large bottles each time I go back to the states and I try and share the wealth with newcomers to the island.  Bugs seem to feast on "new blood" and while I know that sounds silly, it is the honest-to-goodness truth.  Bring your Skin-So-Soft!  I promise you will need it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Common Scenarios

To give a glimpse into how life works here, I thought I would share a few common scenarios that I only get to enjoy here.

1) When I shop at the NEX, I drop some kids off in the electronics section to watch a movie while I shop.
2) My kids are at the pool.  I need them to come on home.  I simply pick up the phone, dial the number and ask the lifeguard to send them home.  No need to say who I am, no need for last names or descriptions.  They know exactly who I'm talking about.
3) Someone I need to get in touch with has just landed on a plane.  I know they are headed home and will have to wait at Leeward Ferry Landing to catch the ferry to this side.  I simply call the operator, ask for the number at ferry landing, dial the number.  Then whoever answers just yells out to the crowd to summon them to the phone.

Love the simple life!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Some Firsts

Yesterday was my 17 year anniversary of being married to my fabulous husband.  To celebrate, we spent time at the beach and also on a boat.

Two very cool things happened!

First, I found a huge piece of RED sea glass!  Red is one of the rarest, and most coveted colors to find.  I have been here for a year and a half and this is my first piece.  Funny thing is is that while I was descending the stairs to Glass Beach, I said a little prayer and asked God to help me find a piece of red for my anniversary.  God was certainly kind to me!

Second, we saw some manatees!  During our first boat ride up the Guantanamo River, four large manatees made an appearance.  I thought about trying to grab a camera, but knowing that the moment would only last a minute, I decided to simply take in the scene instead.

That brings me to the subject of the Guantanamo River.  Oh what an absolutely beautiful and serene place.  The water was calm and a most stunning shade of blue-green.  Both sides of the river have mangroves growing all the way down to the water's edge.  In fact, I couldn't see the banks of the river at all, only gorgeous, green mangroves intertwined with other trees.  We will most certainly be making more trips up the river.

***I originally started this post on Jan. 24th.  Some crazy life things happened and I didn't get a chance to post this.  I wanted to take a picture of the sea glass, but didn't get a chance.  We are currently off-island and won't be back for awhile, so this picture-less post will have to suffice for now.***