Spring Break was a blast. We didn't deal with the nightmare that is GTMO holiday travel. No hastily packed bags, no regrets for the overindulging in too much rich food, no early morning wake up calls to make the airport. We didn't do much of anything. And it was glorious.
There were trips to the beach which included snorkeling and sea glass gathering. I have decided that the hundreds of pounds of household goods I am throwing out and giving away will be replaced with sea glass---five or six thousands pounds of sea glass.
Okay, just kidding. I dream of leaving much lighter, but who knows---I have a sort of OCD/hoarder sickness. I cannot walk by a piece of sea glass and not pick it up. Woe is me.
I went kayaking near the hospital with friends and to Ferry Landing for a kid's birthday party and I'm happy to see so many large, brilliant orange star fish. Those who haven't been here 5 years can't appreciate what disappeared and is finally coming back after Hurricane Sandy hit the month we got here (Oct. 2012). My husband spotted a pod of dolphins frolicking (do they frolick? dance? play?) in the Bay, too.
I caught up on literary pursuits. Okay, I'm lying. I watched a lot of television, mostly Netflix. At least it wasn't all junk; I did see a great documentary: Searching for Sugarman (2012). It's a story of missed opportunities and the realization that you haven't fulfilled your potential---and dealing with it with grace. It was a nice counterpoint to the seven part podcast that I listened to almost non-stop from beginning to end, "S-Town" (as in "Shit Town). It's is a true Southern Gothic cut from the cloth of Flannery O'Connor, with a little Faulkner, Welty, and Tennessee Williams thrown in. And it's totally addictive and will have you calling your friends (especially if you, too, are from a little southern town) and talking all the finer points of what makes it so disturbing and intriguing at the same time.
I also finished the HBO mini series, "Big Little Lies," based on one of my 40 book challenge books. I couldn't manage to keep up with it pre-break (and it's less than 10 episodes). Read the book first, then watch the show. It will bring more depth to what you're watching, and the director/producers made some interesting changes in the storyline which also brought some depth. That being said, it's guilty viewing and not that much depth there. But that's okay, because I'm on break and I'm a little weary of my last 6 weeks of so with the Bard (Hamlet with seniors, Romeo and Juliet with freshman).
I didn't read much. Okay, I read very little. I am damned and determined to read that "great Spanish novel" Don Quixote, but god gawd, y'all, it's slow. Sorry, I'm just not digging it thus far---but I AM going to finish it.
I enjoyed the great outdoors (thanks to some DEET to make it more bearable). In addition to swimming and kayaking in the Bay, I went on some hikes with my husband. I had a few very close encounters with iguanas---we all know I'm blind as a bat, but even for those who can really see---because they blend in so well sometimes, you don't see them until you almost step on them. Or sit on them. Thankfully I didn't do either, but I did get thaaaaat close.
Best wildlife experience: the feral cat who, upon my opening of the closed garbage bin, let out a howl from hell, and shot out, claws first, narrowly missing my head. My life flashed before my eyes. Okay, I'm being hyperbolic. It did make me almost pee my pants (sorry, TMI).
In an unrelated trip to the garbage bin, I stopped by a neighbor's house and ended up staying and talking until well past midnight. I love that sometimes you just find the right person for the right evening of good conversation (and good wine) if you look hard enough. Or if you are just taking out the garbage. (My husband to another neighbor: "She takes out the garbage at 8 pm. She comes home at 1 am. I'm not sure how she does it." )
Also I am amazed that in 4 Years, 5 Months, 2 Weeks, 5 Days of living here (heck yeah I count; sometimes it feels like a prison sentence), I still find firsts.
There was the first time to the top of the lighthouse. The restored lighthouse is open and we can go to the top for the first time in the five years we've been here.
The stairs are steep, and the windows offer little in ventilation. It's not too unbearable now, but come summer, it will be hellish at the top, since it's all enclosed in glass. I felt like I was in a huge gazing ball, and I'm glad I chose the hot spring instead of the hotter than hot summer to see it.
There was my first time to go to a party for someone who gained their U.S. citizenship. During break, a colleague's spouse was sworn in as an American in Florida and some of the staff threw him a surprise party when he returned. Call it a "we're glad you are now officially an American" party. There's a party for everything---and there are thoughtful people who put them together, too.
There's magic here, too.
All during the break, the base was covered with butterflies.
I was reminded of my favorite novel: “It was then that she realized that the yellow butterflies preceded the appearances of Mauricio Babilonia" (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez).
Nope, they aren't yellow, they don't announce the arrival of a guest, but they are everywhere. And there is something magical about the glistening of white wings in the hot sun, and having them tangle in your hair in the breeze. I tried to capture them on film, but I'm afraid I didn't do a great job.
You know what I didn't do? I didn't go in to work. I didn't grade papers. I didn't work on the yearbook. I didn't think about lesson plans. And with very, very few exceptions, I didn't wear shoes.
I chased butterflies on trails. I dodged iguanas on the beach, and spotted several species of fish in two beautiful afternoons of snorkeling. I managed to climb rocks and a narrow trail and found a cave I've been wanting to visit before leaving (another GTMO first).
And while driving Sunday night with the windows down in my car, pondering the end of break and listening to one of the few CDs I managed to salvage (because you never, ever get rid of the Dead), I heard these lyrics and thought how it could be my eternal-summer, beach-life, trail-hiking, Bay-kayaking, GTMO-living theme song, if I had chosen to stay here indefinitely:
"See that girl, barefootin' along,
Whistlin' and singin', she's a carryin' on.
There's laughing in her eyes, dancing in her feet,
She's a neon-light diamond and she can live on the street. . .
Well everybody's dancin' in a ring around the sun
Nobody's finished, we ain't even begun.
So take off your shoes, child, and take off your hat.
Try on your wings and find out where it's at"---
"The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)Find"
the Grateful Dead
Instead, I'll be dancing a jig barefooted on another beach, but undoubtedly missing the iguanas, the plumerias, the neighbors (but most likely not the feral cats or the hutias). I loved spring break and now I'm nervous but ready to move onward towards closing out the year---and this chapter----in Cuba.