23 February, 2010
My Banana Rat friend as I spotted him.
Guantanamo Bay Cuba is known for two animals in particular. The Banana Rat and the Iguana.
In my weeks spent working on the base. I only encountered Iguanas and dead Banana Rats (they get hit by cars crossing the base streets a lot). Some of the Iguanas were quite tame and would come right up to you. We had one named pedro that would come running over whenever we were around. She had come to expect food from us.
I knew Banana Rats were nocturnal by nature, but I never saw one up close. Until the day before I left to come home.
I was out exploring with my Chiefs and two of us were between the cliffs and huge boulders that had pulled away from the cliff face. It was a nice little spot. Trees were growing and absurd angles out of the cliff face. We had taken all the photos we wanted of the scenery and turned around to head back down the path to the truck. It was then I spotted a rather large Banana rat on a branch staring right at me. It was holding still except for it's claws that were gripping the log and it was quietly chattering it's teeth.
I had no idea if this animal was preparing to charge at us ir was holding still hoping we would leave it alone. Chief climbed a nearby tree to get away. I was left standing face to face with this rather large wild animal.
We both snapped photos, and then the Banana rat simply turned and walked into a small crevasse between two boulders.
Quite a memorable experience!!
After two weeks spent in Port Au Prince, Haiti. I got reassigned by my C.O. to take command of a different detachment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The cold war never ended in Cuba. It is in fact, still happening there. Since we established a base permanently via perpetual lease on 23 February 1903 ( 107 years ago today). The confined space and isolated nature of the facility made it ideal for layers of history to be seen exposed for those with an eye for observation. Gun emplacements from 1906 still exist. Bunkers built during the Cuban Missile Crisis still dot the landscape.
One interesting area is known as "Glass Beach". The area was a dumping ground for all kinds of bottles and items such as plates. As the broken shards of glass get tumbled back and forth over the sand, they get smooth and much more safe to handle.
It reminded me of collecting sea glass with my Daughter in Massachusetts and in Maine. Except here it was not a hunt for the little pieces of glass. It was everywhere!! It took only 10 minutes to fill a zip-lock bag with brown, blue and clear sea glass and find 5 or 6 large shards of what used to be white porcelain plates.