Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Transfer News; or, Maybes

Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.

Smashing Pumpkins, "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" 

This was what I found in my front yard this morning.
He will be "relocated" sometime today.
No, you don't want to know what that really means. 
Here's the GTMO version (it's a banana rat in a cage).

It's an appropriate metaphor for how I feel right now.

I tried SO hard to get a transfer this year. I wrote letters and got moved to A+ status. I put down every single school that had an opening with my certifications (13 total) and was sure I had a shot.

But alas, there was only funding to fill 132 slots, and all of "my" slots were filled with people with a higher SCD (Service Computation Date).

In other words, we are indefinite detainees of GTMO just a little bit longer. Or a lot longer. Who knows.

The money is great. I get free housing & utilities, a return flight to the States in the summer for all of us, and a salary better than any of the four states where I have worked.

But. . . money can't buy everything. I've spent the last couple of days dealing with the sad truth that I have no control over budgets, and I really, REALLY would like to live somewhere else. I want to travel and see the world. I wanted this to be our next year's Christmas card:

You know you want to see this on a Chrismukkah card. 

And not something like this:
Thank you, Google Chrome, for the dinosaur game built into "The webpage is not available"
because of no connectivity.
I've gotten lots of practice thanks to our internet and I can probably kick your butt in this game. 
Nobody else here got a transfer. Misery does love company. . .

Maybe we'll get out of here before #2 graduates. (That would be 2024).

Maybe I'll finally unpack those boxes from our 2012 move.

Maybe I will plan a nice little vacation with some of the money I was hoarding for a big move.

Maybe I will be here to see a little Cuba history in the making.

Maybe I will enjoy my much spacier house with an amazing back porch.

Or maybe I'll just feel sorry for myself a little longer and then come back with some brilliantly funny (or snarky) comment.

Here's to another year of banana rats and iguanas, grocery shortages and no mail service, lots of wine (whine) sessions on that amazing back porch, and hopefully a cure for island fever.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Check, Check, Check; or, Make My GTMO in Miniature

GTMO never ceases to surprise me (and usually, in a good way).

Take a few weekends ago at Rasta Hill.  Rasta Hill is located on the way to the beaches. It's a spartanly decorated food stand/barbecue setup on the side of the road. There is a large grill manned by Jamaicans and where, for a donation of $7 or so, you can get spicy fish or chicken, rice and beans, and festival bread. Good stuff. People from all over base line up for food and they run out fast, so you have to get there early. While there, you can listen to music blasting from huge speakers, manned by a dj. You can smell the food cooking and hear the music blaring from blocks away.

As we stood in line, we heard some good reggae, some old school R&B that I haven't heard in ages (Al Green, Betty Wright, Gregory Abbott), when suddenly the dj broke out some Kenny Rogers. Kenny Rogers, ya'll. Right there on Rasta Hill. It's those unexpected things that make me smile about this place.

For the second time during a Cuba Spring Break, my parents came to visit. Navigating a military base while civilians (and filing out the crazy paperwork required to get here---not to mention that you are never 100% sure that you are actually leaving Jacksonville for GTMO until the plane is in the air) is easier the second time around. They have learned to relax and go with the flow. It's like our life here---you can't change things, you get what you get (and don't throw a fit), it is what it is, and so it goes. Each of those phrases have  worked as my GTMO mantra at one point or another in times of absolute frustration over the ridiculousness of life here.

Now that school year 3 is coming to a close sooner than later (only 9 or so weeks left of school), I am thinking and re-thinking my *not bucket* list of goals in GTMO. What better time to check off some of those goals than when you have unsuspecting guests to drag all over island?

We finally went to the Lighthouse Museum (check!) and got to walk around inside. And guess what? All the conjecture and rumors and bellyaching about how GTMO is losing part of its culture (the lighthouse) is completely unfounded. They are repairing it! And no, they didn't get rid of all of the refugee boats that surrounded the lighthouse, either. Good grief, people, it's not like several were termite ridden and collapsing from the scorching heat (and Hurricane Sandy) anyway. There are now parts of the ones that couldn't be completely salvaged on display in the museum. A group of volunteers on base is lovingly taking care of the relics of GTMO, and I'm so glad I saw it for myself instead of listening to the crazy rumors.

And as an extra added bonus: on the way home from watching the sunset near The Slot, we saw a deer and actually had a camera this time. So another goal is met: I have finally gotten photographic proof of the deer at GTMO (and thanks to my son who took the picture).  Check! 

During this break, there were lots of board games (and card games---my family can't get together without playing cards). Check!  I've also been enjoying reading this week (check!). It is so sad to say that as an English teacher, you really have no time to read for enjoyment because the job sucks every free minute from your life. I even got so into reading on my beautiful, huge back porch this break (and with a perfect breeze), I took a nap while reading. Now that's a perfect afternoon. In the last couple of weeks, I have cleaned my car like it's never been cleaned before (check!) and took another painting class (check!).  I recently had a large garage sale and I have downsized my clothes (including shoes) even more (check! check!).

Not on the *not bucket* list was another trip to my favorite banyan (and my parents' first trip). This time, my youngest and I both enjoyed the tire swing. I've been many times but for some reason I've never been on the swing until this week. 

Also not on the list was a round of goofy golf by the Denich Gym. I know you shouldn't rush through everything there is to do here, but I wish we would have found it earlier. 

Look closely and see if you can find clues of how Goofy Golf  is sort of the perfect GTMO experience and yet something else unexpected that made me smile.  

It's sort of perfect---if you can't get everything crammed into your GTMO trip (or your tour here), you can reenact what you imagine those experiences would be like with Goofy Golf. Want an up close and personal trip to the lighthouse, but you don't have time? Check out Hole #8 above. It's a tricky one, and unlike the real one, it doesn't need extensive repairs to get it back to its original glory. Don't think you'll be making the steep climb up JPJ Hill to the windmills? It's okay! We have the golf version, Hole #6! And unlike the real thing, you can take pictures of this one. No time for a North Gate Tour? It's all fine, because we have a special par 2 rendition for you (and boy is it a tough one---what you can't see is the dried out water hazard you are supposed to jump and then navigate the ball through the guard tower before getting your par 2). 

Just think of how much of GTMO we could experience in miniature! We could have a mini outdoor theatre (sadly we didn't experience on this spring break together this time around). There could be miniatures of Cooper Field, of the Chapel, and of WT Sampson Schools. You could have the Hospital, Marine Hill Mini Mart, and the NEX. All the landmarks of GTMO could be here in 18 holes and under one canopy (or not---it's only about 1/3 under the canopy now). Goofy Golf was a nice way to spend our last full day together, and we shared lots of laughs along our diminutive view of GTMO life.