October 31, 2015
Flying into Guantanamo Bay…
This morning, we flew back into Nassau…with Captain Bullet, in the tiny plane, to the tiny plane airport, which had no food options. And since breakfast ended at 7:30 am on base, most of us didn’t eat anything, because we were sleeping in from the crazy night before. Steve talked one of the ladies at the terminal into driving us over to the commercial airport to grab food, so we didn’t have to pay a $10 taxicab fee. The only place to eat over there was Wendy’s and we didn’t even have to walk in! The Nassau airport has a Wendy’s Drive-Thru window!
After finishing lunch, our pilots showed up; they introduced themselves as Chris and David. We shook their hands; got the safety briefing of our slightly larger plane, a C-12, which fits 10 people, including the pilot and co-pilot; and boarded the plane. Once we reached cruising altitude, Steven, who was still hung-over, asked if he could lie down and sleep in the aisle. David said yes and Steven slept. He slept hard. The flight from Nassau to GTMO was uneventful and lovely; clear skies and beautiful blue water.
When we arrived at the GTMO airport, we noticed framed pictures of the high level officers on the wall. The highest-level officer, the Commanding Officer, looked an awful lot like our pilot David. We asked our new friend David if this was indeed he and he humbly replied, “Yes.” It turned out that Captain David C. Culpepper, the guy in charge of ALL of Guantanamo Bay, just flew us in. He is a Top Gun pilot and needs to record a certain amount of hours flying to keep his status. To top it off, he didn’t make us wait for the ferry; we got to travel on his personal boat. WOW. Just wow.
About Cuba and the Base: Cuba is green and lush; we later found out that they’ve been getting a lot of rain, which I guess doesn’t really happen. Culpepper meets with Cuba’s government officials once a month to keep a good relationship. However, there is still a struggle between Cuba and the US, in regards to a couple things. One of those things: Cuba wants Guantanamo Bay back, but that’s not going to happen until all of the detainees have been through trial and released or sent to prison. No new prisoners have been accepted since 2010, but there are still about 150 terrorists awaiting trial. It sounds like it will be at least 10 years before the detainment center will be able to close.
This base is home to about ?? military personnel (I can't remember...but will edit this post when I find out), made up of all branches of the military. The rest of the people are civilians. They have a bowling alley, an outdoor movie theater, wind turbines, bars, restaurants, the commissary/grocery store, recreation center, a radio station, a marina, a hospital, and much more. It’s like a small town, almost, just like the others. Pretty much everything you need is right there. But because it’s a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business and perhaps there’s a little cabin fever and a feeling of disconnect from the outside world. They get a lot of bands in GTMO, but they haven’t had a comedy show in a year and a half!
For lunch, our MWR guide, Gloeth, took us to a place called the Wind Jammer, which is one of the biggest hot spots on the base. Then, we checked into our rooms at the BOQ, which stands for Something Officer’s Quarters, and prepared for the show.
The Show: Show order: (1) me, (2) Melinda, (3) Steven, and (4) Matt. This venue had the BIGGEST stage Apoca-Laughs Now has seen so far. It is the BIGGEST stage I’ve ever performed on…and probably the BIGGEST audience I’ve ever performed in front of. (ending in a preposition, I know!) There were over 350 people at this beautiful outdoor venue called the Tiki Bar. Though it was nighttime and you couldn’t see the water, it over looks the bay. Every seat in the place was filled and people were standing. At least half of the audience, if not more, was dressed up for Halloween. There was a Big Baby, a bunch of guys wearing short shorts, Darth Vader, a pirate, a prisoner (ha), superheroes, and Macho Man Randy Savage. We even got our own trailer for our green room, in which a reporter named Ian from The Wire, a weekly Joint Task Force Guantanamo publication, interviewed us. I think the next publication date is November 6th.
After the show, we signed autographs and shook hands with the guests. It’s difficult to tell who is military and who isn’t, when so many people on base are civilians, but people were genuinely appreciative, once again. We were invited to a couple parties, but we ended up back at the Wind Jammer with our guide Denise for dinner. I ate a chilidog and it reminded me of my grandmother, which makes me smile. We took “Safe Ride” home, which is like Lyft Line, but free. The driver didn’t know what the BOQ was. Maybe she only knew the BEQ (housing for enlisted only…not officers). Yes, we feel special. Everywhere we’ve been so far, they make us feel special.
Before heading to bed, we located the Jello shot party. It was the perfect nightcap to a memorable evening. Halloween will never be the same.
Tomorrow, we hope to go fishing or at least go on a boat ride around the bay.
Every day, I strive to…
Be the light I wish to see in the world.