Tuesday, February 9, 2016

White Trash R Us; or, This Week in Pictures

A couple of weeks ago, we bought a new couch. Now we have our old sofa on the back porch.
To complete the total White Trash Decor, we now have this: 

Nothing screams "classy" like a toilet on your front stoop. Except a toilet with flowers in it. (I'm working on it, give me a day or so. . . )

We also have a now-broken tub jazzing up the sparsely landscaped front yard. I know, we move in, property values go UP. 

This is now my guest/children's bathroom: 

About 2 weeks ago, Son 1 was showering. He took a step back, and CRACK. The new(ish) tub split. After 5-6 phone calls and visits from housing to verify that yes, really, the new(ish) bathtub is indeed broken, we have 1 day and counting of sawing, hammering, and all sorts of fun noises coming from the house.  We will hopefully have a bathtub/shower that will work (as well as a toilet that they have to re-install). 

Plus: it's a free house and we don't own it
Minus: we don't own it, so we are at the mercy of the government to fix it (and hopefully fix it right). Historically, we've had some rather, um, interesting government contractor repairs the first time around (French doors installed backwards, A/C unit that flooded the house three times and warped the new-ish hardwood floors), so I'm hoping they'll do it right the first time. 

Hope springs eternal here in GTMO! 

Also today in pictures: goodbyes at Ferry Landing.  This time it's a wonderful family with whom we've shared lots of laughs. We spent holidays together, and our kids spent many a sleepover at each other's houses. We will hopefully be saying "see you later" instead of "goodbye." 
Another plus: they are moving to Macedonia, somewhere none of us has traveled. It's yet to be seen as to when we'll be released from our indefinite detainee status at GTMO, but if we ever get out of here, living somewhere in Europe is always a possibility.  A plus: it's cheaper to travel ANYWHERE within Europe than it costs to travel from GTMO to exotic Florida (our closest US option). I know some people would rather go to Florida, but I'm saving my pennies to go somewhere else. 

And on to creative ventures---this summer, both Boy 1 and I were taken with this colorful hotel in downtown Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We took pictures of various angles. This is my favorite: 
Saturday night, I asked Boy 1 about his exciting plans, and he said that he wanted to paint. So we sat side by side for a few hours and this is my not-quite-finished product: 

And that, 12 hours after beginning of this download of pictures, is my past week or so. It's only Monday so who knows what other (mis)adventures await. . . 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Baby Turtles and Guantanamo Phil, Oh My!, or, Hottest Spot North of Havana

After living here 3 years, 3 months, and 12 days (yes, I am counting), you would think there isn't much new to do (especially considering that this is a small, isolated base with most of it off limits).

However, I recently had one of the very best experiences of my life right here in little GTMO.

Last weekend, I spent Saturday night enjoying a bonfire with friends and colleagues at Windmill Beach. It was an overcast night, with no moon in sight. The usually brilliant display of stars was non- existent, and the only light came from a few of the pavilions on the beach.

This is also sea turtle hatching season. Female turtles come back to their birthplace every year to lay eggs at Windmill Beach, and there are usually cones set up in the most popular areas to prevent unsuspecting beachgoers from stepping on nests and damaging the hidden eggs.

Friday night was hatching night. Hundreds of tiny turtle hatched from their shells, pushed up out of the sand, and made their way to. . . the pavilion lights.

Without the moon, the baby turtles all went in the wrong direction.

Several of us took buckets and collected the tiny turtles. We set them out to sea and let nature take its course. I was amazed at how small and fragile they seemed. I'm used to the sturdy, magnificent turtles we encounter while diving or snorkeling. I have never seen a newborn turtle.

We gingerly placed them towards the tide and wished them well. Later that night when I got home, I read that only 1 in 1000 survives to adulthood. I'd like to think that one of our turtles will beat the odds. I can't even begin to tell you how exciting it was to hold a newborn turtle and set it on its voyage. I am still smiling thinking about it.

Another first this past weekend: H and I went to Glass Beach with friends, and we watched the sun set from the beach. I've watched more gorgeous, colorful sunsets here than anywhere else in the world, but never from that location. Every beach's sunsets are just a little different than the others. It was a sight to behold.

Of course, I didn't have my camera for baby turtles or sunsets, and frankly, I'm happy to live somewhere that we don't have cell phones recording every single one of life's moments. Please use your imagination and trust me that both were amazing.

What we lack in amenities, I guess we make up for in imagination here.

Someone posted on one of our GTMO facebook pages that Guantánamo Phil, an iguana, didn't see its shadow so summer is coming. While the post and picture were really cute, I like to think that Guantánamo Phil is not an iguana but a hutia. They are a little ground-hoggish if you look carefully.

In my version, Guantánamo Phil is too busy doing things like eating fuel lines and destroying vegetation to care about seasons. This is a good thing since we don't have seasons here. The two days of 70s-80s are over, so unless Guantánamo Phil is a complete moron (or a little high from gas fumes), he knows that we only have summer here. 

One last bit of happiness here---I was driving down Sherman Avenue tonight, tuned in to my favorite Santiago de Cuba radio station, and heard these words: "Her name was Lola/She was a showgirl." Before Barry Manilow got to the part about the feathers in the hair and the dress cut way down to there, I was squealing with delight. You better believe that I got my groove on while jamming down the street. We're not in the hottest spot north of Havana, but some days I do think we are in the hottest spot east of there (did I mention that it's HOT here?). Who would have believed that one of my favorite songs as a Mississippi girl of 8 years old would be playing many years later while I'm living not quite north of Havana, but on the same rock and 600 miles east of it? 

I love the surprises I find on Cuban radio as much as I love the surprises I find on the Cuban beaches.