Hello From Our New Home
by Evelyn Jordon
Yoooooooo!!!! We have some big news to share! We got married and moved to Cuba! (Believe us, we are just as surprised as you are…)
When we say it has been a blur… there is no other description. It’s almost hard to remember everything that has happened. But I’ve tried to chronical it here. Keep on reading…
First, about the business, don’t worry. We’re still here, and we can still ship anywhere in the world.
Now, here’s the story:
Back in May, we were living in northern Virginia and TJ got offered a job in Florida, starting at the end of June. It sounded like a great opportunity, so we shut down our wood shop, packed up all our stuff, and got ready for the BIG REVEAL of our larger, expanded 3-car garage wood shop in Orlando.
The move was a long and arduous process, since we did it all by ourselves. Packing took a full month and there were multiple trips back and forth to transport our two vehicles, our two boats, and all 8 tons or so of our household goods. We sold off about a third of our wood inventory as well as some of our furniture and odds and ends in order to fit everything into the 26′ moving truck and small uHaul trailer. We also got some family members and friends to assist us, which was a tremendous help. Special thanks to 3 of my sisters who stayed with me for several weeks to pack and clean while TJ was already part time in Florida, and special thanks to TJ’s cousins and best friend who helped with a lot of the heavy lifting, driving, and house repairs.
Trouble in Paradise
Once we got to Florida, we were met with some unexpected obstacles. Our rental house was in a beautiful location on a private lake with a huge yard for the dogs.
But the house came with innumerable problems: septic, plumbing, electrical, insects, mold, overgrowth. You name it, we had someone coming over every single day to fix the next thing that was broken, leaking, backing up, infesting, or smelling.
Before we could get fully settled and re-open our shop…
TJ got a new job offer, this time in our dream location.
The Chance of a Lifetime
We are both people who love to travel and live in exotic locations. TJ has lived in places such as Korea, Japan, the Marshall Islands, and Hawaii. I have lived in Alaska, Armenia, Australia, and Antarctica. (Just kidding about Antarctica, but it does start with an “A.”) We had been trying to get overseas for the past few years, and TJ had been applying for both international and domestic positions.
His most recent interview took place right around the same time he accepted the job in Florida, but then he never heard back from them. So there we were in Florida, steadily unpacking our belongings and getting organized, trying to stay positive about the housing situation, and dealing with our concerns about the then-rampant Delta variant on top of it all.
One evening in August, he got an email. It was a job offer to a place he had lived before and wanted desperately to get back to, on the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (aka “GTMO.”)
There were so many reasons to say no: we had JUST moved and were 80% done unpacking. The house finally seemed like it was coming together. We had spent SO MUCH MONEY. We loved our location on the lake. Our neighbors were awesome. There would be SO MUCH MORE TO DO if we uprooted our lives again. But after much deliberation, we decided to go for it. It was an exciting proposition, a great job opportunity, and would set us up financially to be able to pursue our long-term goals.
We Said “I do.”
There were a lot of things to take care of before we could leave, and the most exciting and most important was that we had to get married more quickly than we had planned on. It was a step in our relationship we were already planning to take, but in order for both of us to go to GTMO together, we had to get married right away.
So with the help of our friends, we got it done in 8 days, complete with flowers, a dress, a venue, an officiant, a photographer, and a bridal reception.
Then there was paperwork and logistics and planning and scheduling. We had to get Zuzu spayed, which added another level of stress and worry, because she did not have a good surgery or easy recovery (fortunately she is fine now). I had to quit my job because my employer said I couldn’t be employed from an overseas military base. (I quickly found a part-time marketing job on the base and will also have more time to devote to Tazboards, so this was not a major concern.) We had to travel separately because there was not enough pet space on the plane for both of our dogs at once. We didn’t know if we would have a house to live in once we arrived on the island until the day before we arrived. And on and on, but all the moving pieces came together, and it was a relatively smooth process, all things considered.
First Impressions of GTMO
TJ was concerned about whether I would like the island life. GTMO is considered an “isolated remote.” There are only a handful of flights back to the US each week, and we don’t even have access to the rest of Cuba. We are limited to the ~45 square miles of the base and about 64 miles of paved road.
There is absolutely nothing to worry about. So far I love it here. Every single person I’ve met has been welcoming and friendly. I love the hot weather. We still have a large back yard with a beautiful view, and we are only a half a mile from the marina. I love that I was able to plant vegetable seeds and have them sprout in literally a day. I love that we are growing a banana tree in our back yard. I am not bothered by a “lack of amenities,” as we have been able to get almost everything we need so far at the store. I don’t mind that the max speed limit is 35 mph anywhere on base. I have 0 complaints.
Waiting for the Wood Shop
So where are we now? We have been here for about a month now, living in our house in GTMO and we are waiting… Waiting for our household goods to arrive so we can set up our wood shop. We have officially opened our order form, so if you’d like to place an order and get in the queue, you can now do so. However, we are not fulfilling orders yet until we get our wood and our tools. We are excited to get started, and we are already planning and dreaming and designing our next set of products. Stay on the look out for spoons, coasters, charcuterie boards, GTMO signs and souvenirs, and more.
We participated in a craft show for local crafters here, with no products for sale, but as an opportunity to get the word out about our business to the local community. We borrowed back a few cutting boards from customers who live on the island who had ordered boards from us in the past, so we had samples to show.
We will be participating in another craft show on December 11, hopefully with products in hand, pending the arrival of our wood shop equipment.
And we are planning our next upcoming pyrography classes, so stay tuned for information on those as well.
Questions? Let us know! Happy to answer anything!