Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It don't GTMO extreme

This is Jerry once again posting by popular demand.

Last Saturday found us participating in the GTMO extreme which is an event similar to a triathlon but thought up by people less physically fit with a similar pain tolerance. I should also mention describing this event without prolific profanity will be difficult as it was not well planned (interns) .
The event consisted of  a 3-mile team canoe, 5-mile mountain bike, and 5-mile run with obstacles. The canoe circumnavigated 3 navigation markers. Each buoy had a 12 ft rope with team tags hung at 4 foot intervals. Once at the navigational marker a team member left the canoe and dove to retrieve all three team tags for a total of 9 tags.  At the first buoy the water looked like parana going after prey; thrashing gasping, and looks of panic as people were trying to find their team tags with 12 other swimmers, trying to find a gap to breath, with 12 canoes, and not becoming fouled in the line.

Many didn't far well during this event. We left the water 6th of 12 and transitioned quickly for the 5-mile mountain bike. 

What a ride, about half the route competitors were carrying bikes up hills because the hills and loose gravel made it impossible for tires to gain traction. During the bike I lost my seat, went over the handle bars, and had to replace the chain. Despite all this, two of our three-man team  were first and third finishers.  Our third member struggled with the bike portion but God Bless her, finished the bike and pressed on when many around her quit. 

The 5-mile run  sounds easy but this was no ordinary run. During the 5 miles, each runner had to complete the Marine Corps Obstacle Course, Carry a 45-pound weight across an olympic pool, and run through a paint ball gauntlet, not to mention the run was on the same terrain as the bike route; steep and unforgiving.

Since two of our team finished early we decided to run to obstacle course, run the course, and wait to assist our remaining team member. On the way to the course, within the first half mile, I rolled my ankle and knew it was going to be a very painful remaining 4.5 miles.

Our team made up a lot of time in the pool as we moved the weight through the deep end more efficiently. We threw the weight in and held it in front of us with arms extended, allowing gravity to help us walk on the bottom. When it was time to breath you threw the weight in front of you, popped up for a breath, and returned to the bottom to pick up where you left off. 

We then ran about 3 miles without water, in high heat, and humidity to the paintball course. This is where I have a hard time not using profanity. Imagine 20 or so paintballers, which are much worse than dungeons and dragons people because paintballers actually believe they are better than gamers. We had to run through a gauntlet of these nerds too afraid to do something significant with their lives, we are unarmed, and had to protect a member of our team.  All while these paintballers indiscriminately fired. For the first half of the course we did really well. We moved quickly from one covered position to the next. When the paintballers were not hitting us they simply left their perches and walked up (within 15 ft at some places) and opened fire. They could do this of course since we did not have weapons to return fire. Once again, interns planned this. As the Marines returned we informed the interns that if they didn't fix the paintballers taking intentional headshots at close range, the Marines would return to take headshot of our own, with fists and in the parking lot. The problem was immediately  corrected.  Paintballers!

This is the team running in after 4 hours 43 minutes, and 51 seconds of moving. Below are five of the shot from the paintballers I can show you without the site being reclassified as pornographic. 
Finally, This is my right ankle and the condition I had to run the obstacle course, pool, paintball range, and remaining 4.5 miles of the 5-mile run. 

I had a blast running this event with the young Marines. It was especially rewarding to watch them hit a challenge and watch them work through the challenge.  I am very fortunate to be surrounded by people who love to do this and look forward to doing better next year.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Guantanamo River

We decided to rent a pontoon boat on Sunday and test out our new driving skills. We invited five brave souls to join us. I was the Captain for the trip that lasted three hours. We cruised around the Bay and stopped for lunch at one of the small islands. We then cruised up the Guantanamo River to the bridge where you must turn around before you end up in Communist Cuba.

While on the river you are not allowed to get out of the boat. Maybe this is due to the fact the GTMO River is home to the American Crocodile. People have also spotted giant Cuban Boas hanging out in the trees. Yikes!
I know it's hard to tell but the fish in this picture are huge. Some looked two feet long, and that's no fish tale. Everyone was ready to jump out of the boat, swim to the exchange, and buy some fishing poles.

A good time was had by all and I didn't run into anything. Only 17 more Captain hours and I can rent a speed boat. Hot Dog!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hola, Fidel y Raul, Part II

This is the Northeast Gate. The only way into Communist Cuba. Before Fidel thousands of Cuban workers passed through the gates each day. After Fidel the original workers could still work on base but no new workers were permitted into GTMO.  These workers are very elderly now and there are only a few. This article is so interesting. It goes into the history of the Northeast Gate. It is really amazing how the Cubans and Marines would harass each other.

This is where the Cuban workers would enter GTMO

This is the building where the Marines would sleep. The fencing to the left of the photo was put up when the Cubans would throw rocks on the tin roof and keep the Marines awake. After the fence was put up the Cubans would hang coat hangers with wind chimes to keep the Marines awake. The Marines put up barbed wire. Then the Cubans used a big spotlight to shine in the windows of the building. The Marines put up a big tent and built the giant Marine symbol, where you now see the eagle, globe, and anchor. After 30 days of work the Cubans turned on the spotlight and Marines removed the tent. When the Cubans realized they were lighting up the Marine symbol they turned off the spotlight. The Marines built there own lighting to keep the eagle, globe, and anchor lit up. 
After Fidel Castro Accused GTMO of stealing water the CO of the base ordered the water line cut to prove the pipe was dry. He did this in front of the media. 
This was an embarassment to Fidel.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hola Fidel y Rual

Jerry took me on a fantastic tour of the fence line restricted to GTMO residents, unless they have special permission and a Marine escort. This is a hill in Communist Cuba with a security tower on top. You may need to get your reading glasses, Mom, or you can make the picture bigger by clicking on it. I waved and said hello. They didn't wave back.
GTMO shares a bay with Guantanamo City. Many Cubans use this passage to escape Communist Cuba. This sign is basically telling these Cubans what to do. It also advises them we are not going to shoot them and will care for them.This is the barrier across the bay, put up by the Cubans. 

I will make this a two part post. The next post will be of the Northeast Gate. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Glass Beach

Beautiful glass beach may be my favorite so far. It's nice and sandy, there is sea glass everywhere, and the snorkeling is great. Yes, I tried it again but only lasted 30 minutes before getting queasy.  I did not add any sea glass to this picture. I just took my camera out and took a picture of the ground.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oh Captain my Captain

Jerry and I passed our captain's test today and now will be able to rent boats and explore Guantanamo Bay. I must say I'm a better driver than Jerry. I think woman are just naturally better. Don't you agree, ladies? In these pictures Jerry is driving, I am parking a big pontoon boat, and our instructor is showing us where we can and can't go. That's a good thing to know. I don't really want to get captured by the Cubans. Now that we have Turbo's life vest we can take the pups.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

He's cute and he knows it

I promise not to make this blog an ode to my dogs but I had to share this with you. As you may or may not know Bulldogs can't swim. Turbo, our bulldog, can swim for a few seconds and then begins to sink. We think it would be fun to take our dogs out with us when we rent a boat but didn't want to take the risk of Turbo falling in and sinking to the bottom. Our solution was buying him a doggie life vest. We tried it out the other day and he really seems to enjoy swimming. He got the hang of it very quickly. Enjoy the following photo and  video.   

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunken Treasure

This is the booty from yesterday's beach excursion. Sea Glass is one of the few natural resources found in GTMO that residents are permitted to harvest. This is a renewable resource since most Caribbean nations don't recycle and simply throw their bottles in the sea when finished. After hundreds of miles, and constant micro-abrasions from the sand, the glass shards are smooth, shiny, and have a gem-like appearance. Several of the ladies here make sea glass jewelry.   

Several of the beaches here glisten with these little gems.  I had Jerry collecting sea glass to put in candle holders. We went to the beach as our day's first activity so we could bring the dogs. Both dogs played, swam, and chased tennis balls while Jerry and I hunted for treasure.  The beaches are so beautiful and we are frequently taking advantage of these opportunities. 

Friday, July 4, 2008

Damn Yankees

This hotel web site cracks me up. It is directly north of us in the town of Guantanamo. I have a feeling they don't want us here. Make sure you read the hotel description. 

Turbo is exhausted this morning.  We attended the Marine's baseball game last night and took Turbo with us. The kids fought over holding his leash for over two hours. He is quickly becoming a celebrity here. Jerry takes him to work from time to time and lets him wander the halls. He stops in each office for a visit until he makes it to the recreation room, where all the fun is. Lots of young Marines, missing their dogs, eating chow. Jackpot. 

We have lots of festivities to attend this holiday weekend but I figured out a way to squeeze in a trip to the beach this morning. 

Happy Forth of July. God bless America!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sunday Drive

Jerry worked on Sunday morning and I had Brunch with the Marine wives. When we finally both came home we were bored and decided to take a Sunday drive. So we headed out to explore the island. We came across the GTMO Lighthouse took a few pictures and headed out again. We saw some really cool things, but if I told you about it I would have to kill you.  I'm totally kidding. Our dive didn't take very long. This place is really small and seems to be getting smaller by the day. Is that a symptom of island fever? Jerry suggested scuba diving to improve my bad mood. I guess I forgot to mention I was in a foul mood and what I really wanted was to shop at Target followed by a hot coffee at Starbucks followed by a pedicure. So we hit the dive shop. grabbed our gear, and headed to the beach. Jerry is a great scuba diver. When we decided to start our dive he was already at the bottom and I was still looking for the button to deflate my vest. He is like a sea monkey. I would look over and he would be standing on his head smiling at me.  I let him navigate. I left the dive in a great mood.