Monday, October 29, 2012

It started with bacon; or, the best laid plans of mice and men

So far, everything has gone smoothly.
Relatively smooth, anyway. That is, if you don't consider being in a hurricane in a strange place by yourself, or being in mourning from losing your dog the day before you move to another country, it's all been quite splendid.
We've tried to keep the glass-full mentality on this whole move. Within five days of getting a job offer, we managed to jump through some difficult hoops rather unscathed and got passports, physicals, and pounds of paperwork completed. Within 3 weeks of a job offer, I was in Cuba. Whoa.
And today started with BACON.
I was eating with some of my new Gitmo friends Friday night, and I was bellyaching over the lack of bacon at the NEX. There is a ton of turkey bacon (really, who eats that stuff?), but for two weeks in a row I haven't been able to get REAL bacon because it has been sold out.
So when a co-worker came up to me first thing this morning and said, "Welcome to Gitmo!" while presenting me a gorgeous slab of bacon, I knew this was going to be a great day.
A happy bacon story is, of course, preshadowing that the other shoe is going to drop.
Texas freak cold front means right before boarding the plane this morning to come here, the husband is pulled aside and told he can't board the dog because it's two degrees too cold.
Then the Tuesday flight from Jacksonville NAS to Gitmo was rescheduled for the next day. They will stay in Jacksonville for two nights before arriving on Wednesday.
So Spike is now at his (human) grandma's house in Georgetown until some time that one of us can travel back to get him. I'm glad he has a home to go to with someone who loves him (and another dog that he loves, too), but after losing Katie, I'm going to be selfish and say I really miss my dog and wish he could be here. I'd already bought him food and treats, and I'm going to give them away so I don't have to see them every time I pass the pantry. Yep, I'm a little sad. Actually, I'm a lot of sad.
I would have a celebratory bacon sandwich tonight in anticipation of (most of) my guys' arrival to raise my spirits, except I left the damn package in the staff fridge. Doh! At least I didn't leave it in my desk drawer. . .
I've been grateful, I'm counting my blessings and my lucky stars, but I'm ready for everyone to be here. Like, right now.
On a random tangent, here's a picture of the Halloween decorations I put up for Henry. When I told him we're moving, he was very concerned that we would be getting here right at Halloween, and the number one thing he wanted to know was if I could get "some of those fake little headstones" to put in the Cuban yard. Thanks to my pal Beth, I got plenty, and instead of packing shoes, clothes, or other necessities, I made room for fake little headstones in my suitcase so Hank will be a happy boy.
Plus I now have bacon. And if anyone loves bacon more than I do, that would be Hank.
Thinking of my east coast friends and family. Stay dry, stay safe, and I'm crossing my fingers and toes that this storm fizzles out.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The birds and the bees (or an iguana); or, I'm still here

As a young child, my sister Susan would, without any hesitation, tell you that her favorite bird was the buzzard. Not a mockingbird (the Mississippi state bird), a parrot (mom's African Grey Rhett killed all love of parrots for us), or a blue bird (my favorite---thanks to a little Bukowski poem). Nope, she was unabashed in her love of the buzzard. Some people call it a turkey vulture----I call it a buzzard.
Here in Gitmo, there are tons of buzzards everywhere. My first few mornings here, I was greeted by two rather ominous looking ones perched on the lamp post across from my house. It took a few days, but I finally got used to them.
Then Sandy came, and just like that, they are gone. Never thought I'd say this, but I hope the buzzards are okay.
I kind of miss them.
I have often thought this place looks like Kauai, Hawaii---wild vegetation and lots of undeveloped land. It is beautiful. The only exception is there are no hens running around or roosters crowing all hours of the day and night.
Well, except for a pair I saw the day after the hurricane, taking their time crossing the road (and no, I don't know why the chicken crossed the road). I haven't seen them since---think my favorite buzzard pair has been reincarnated as a rooster/hen? It would be an improvement. . .
Then there are the spectacular hummingbirds outside the den window, loving all over the bright red hibiscus.
No pictures of birds (or bees---almost stepped on one of those this morning), but I did manage to get a picture of an iguana.
As for the hurricane---I'm not even sure what category it was, but my house is, indeed, hurricane-proof. Other than the one and only big tree in the yard that is now at a 30 degree angle, everything is fine. There were some large trees uprooted, a few houses and buildings damaged, and some structures on the beach and the ferry landing didn't fare well. But this place is well prepared for hurricanes---the Commissary went into hurricane mode the day of, with water, flashlights, non-perishables, and even generators replacing usual end-cap merchandise---and you wouldn't believe how fast different crews got the power up and running, the roads cleared, the commissary and restaurants open, and we even had school on Friday. I can't complain at all. My short-lived addiction to cable television is over since it's still out thanks to Sandy, but I can access the base news, and that's all I really need. Plus I did finally dig into that stack of neglected library books. Why am I just now reading Cassandra Clare?
Kids/husband/doggie will be here on Tuesday! I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baching it; or, that one time I was in Cuba for a hurricane

It's been a long time since I've been bach-ing it. The exciting Bachelor Life when you don't have a phone or internet consists of watching lots and lots of mindless tv (I do have cable! And HBO!). I usually watch 2-3 hours a week on average, but now I am completely absorbed in the world of television. Cartoons, talk shows, the news, sit-coms, I watch it all. I watched a Tyler Perry movie last night, not because it was good (if you've seen one, you've seen them all), but because it was more exciting than laundry. While all of America was watching the last presidential debate, I was watching "Rosemary's Baby" for the 100th time. It was on the Armed Forces Network. Of course. What else would you expect during the debates???

On a more exciting note, it's hurricane season, y'all.


Sometime in the next 24 hours, a hurricane named Sandy is coming this way. (I keep having visions of John Travolta singing in Grease when I hear that name---"Sandy, can't you see, I'm in misery").

Jim Cantore has NOT shown up, so I'm not too worried. Neither are the people who have been here a while. Sure, I bought my hurricane-kit supplies (flashlight, water, food, etc), and I'm not stoo-pid, so I will be taking precautions, not doing anything crazy, etc. I've done this before, and it is what it is. And as an extra bonus, our house is in a newer complex and it is "hurricane proof," so we don't evacuate. (Those of you who have actually lived through a hurricane can stop laughing now, since there really isn't such a thing).

I am sad to think that The Most Interesting Man in the World will probably not make it to the NEX tomorrow (see my previous post if you have no clue). I have picked out several good library books, I have extra batteries in case of power failure and I have to read by flashlight, and I have managed to meet more neighbors in less than a week than in 10 years of Texas, so I do have people I can hang out with once it (literally) blows over. School's out tomorrow, but we are slated to come back on Friday.

And that's how they do hurricanes here in Cuba.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Dispatch; or, You Don't Get This in Texas.

Hola from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, our new home!
Yesterday I arrived around 1 pm (that would be 1300) and got to see much of the area. There are tons of iguanas here. And by iguanas, I mean huge, scaly creatures, not those homely little reptiles they sell at Petsmart (bless their little hearts). I don't have a camera yet, so just trust me when I say they are gargantuan. Or google "Guantanamo Bay" and "iguanas" (ignore the fact I am a librarian and just google it). Being from Mississippi, I thought the first one I saw was a little alligator. Yes, they are that big.
Anywho, yesterday I got to experience traffic stopping to let an iguana cross the road. I thought it was cute. In a few months, I probably won't think it's so cute.
You don't get iguana crossings in central Texas.
Also, "the actor playing the 'Most Interesting Man in the World' is coming to the NEX!" according to a sign outside the NEX/Commissary today. Not only do we get first-run movies at the outdoor theater for FREE every single night (yep, gratis), but we have celebrities at our grocery store.
Let's see HEB match that for awesomeness!
And now a big Hee-Haw style shout-out to my friends and family in Monticello, Mississippi, population 1,726 (SA-LUTE!). Growing up in a small town prepares you for a lifetime of creativity and resourcefulness when you have limited shopping options. I read dozens of bulletin boards, blogs, and forum postings about Gitmo before my arrival, and many folks lament the lack of proper shopping choices. There is only one grocery store (the Commissary) and one store for almost everything else (the NEX) and they are in one building. (Washington folks, think of a mini, mini, mini Fred Meyers). True, the options are limited, but really. . . the people complaining need to get a life. There are options. If you haven't lived in a really small town, you don't know that just the fact you have options is a plus. For the millionth time in my life, I will now declare that living in a small town will train you for living almost anywhere. And the people are nicer. If you don't believe me, visit Monticello, Mississippi, one day.
The speed limit tops out at 25 mph, internet wireless is excruciatingly slow, and there are 20 instead of 60 types of cereal. AND the sun is shining, the wind is blowing, the sea air is refreshing, and after I get off the internet at the public library (which has a cute children's room and an AMAZING selection of YA and adult literature, by the way), I'm headed for one of the local beaches to check things out. My neighbor has lent me a car (and also made sure I had lender furniture, linens, kitchen things, and food in my fridge). People are just that nice here.
So far, island life is really, really rough. *wink wink*
Can't wait until the 30th, when the boys all get to take the beautiful ferry ride across the bay and see our new home. Thanks to all of you for the well wishes, prayers, positive thoughts. And the advice from you peripatetic types has been invaluable. Thanks for being my inspiration and paving our way here!
XOXO, lori