My vacation plans are not yet complete, but I think I have found the perfect spot for my summer idyll, an enchanted isle where the gentle breezes blow across the water and play a lullaby in the swaying palm trees.
Caressed by the dappled sunlight through the languid days and lulled by the romantic rhythm of the rain in the tropical nights, I will kick back in my commodious personal accommodations without a care in the world. While some may think the rooms spartan, they seem perfect for the spa lifestyle that is so healthful and appealing to travelers like me.
I can’t wait to jump on a plane and wend my way to this gem of a resort where time stands still.
Why, the very name fills the ear like a Latin rhythm beating with the salsa notes of the islands – Guantanamo Bay.
The color brochure from Uncle Sam Freedom Tours is as seductive as a senorita’s serenade. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. Yes, I know, vacation destinations don’t always live up to their billing, but the brochure’s glowing reports are matched by incredible testimonials coming from some of the most respected figures in the land.
Just the other day, Vice President Dick Cheney said on CNN that the lucky residents of Guantanamo Bay were “very well treated down there. They’re living in the tropics. They’re well fed. They’ve got everything they could possibly want.”
Everything they possibly want! Well, I want some of that, and the price is right: In fact, it’s free room and board and all the beans and rice you can eat. It sounds as if those Vegas buffets have nothing on Guantanamo Bay.
Another important Republican, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, held a news conference concerning Guantanamo. Displaying some yummy traditional meals, he said the government spends $12 a day for food for each person. “So the point is that the inmates in Guantanamo have never eaten better, they’ve never been treated better, and they’ve never been more comfortable in their lives than in this situation,” he said.
Obviously we are spoiling people half to death in Gitmo, as the colorful natives call it. My fear is that everybody will now want to go and be coddled by that old-fashioned American hospitality, and in the rush I won’t be able to make a booking through my travel agent at the Justice Department.
But, you alert readers say, isn’t Gitmo reserved for the worst terrorists? Sure, but the government, being the government, is always going to make mistakes, and I think it’s probable that a few innocent Afghani goat herders – those lucky guys! – have been swept up in the general enthusiasm of war to live the life of Riley in the tropics.
But let us assume that Guantanamo does have its share of very bad residents; why would the rest of us want to go there? Well, I hear security is very good, and discipline will prevail even when the campers get together during those happy evening singalongs when everybody belts out “He’ll Be Coming Around Tora Bora Mountain When He Comes” and the sentimental “I Dream of Genie With the Light Brown Burqa.”
Besides, while bad boys they may be, they won’t be like those repulsive Euro-trash guys in their tiny Speedos you see on the beach at Club Med.
It doesn’t seem fair to keep such a seaside paradise off-limits to the American taxpayer, i.e. me. You will feel the same when I tell you that the government has spared no expense to keep the environment pest-free for the residents’ safety and comfort. Nothing spoils a vacation like the arrival of flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes or, in Gitmo’s case, lawyers.
As for me, I don’t need any constitutional protections to have a swell time. I look forward to the visits of the hostesses, who are said to be all Ann Coulter look-alikes dressed in Army-issue camouflage bras, purchased at the famous lingerie store, Rumsfeld’s Secret.
Because I patriotically believe everything I am told, I look forward to the interviews with the other charming, clean-cut interrogators as they tickle me with a feather for information. Afterward, I’ll go back to my room and do some light reading, perhaps sampling the complimentary Quran left thoughtfully by the El Gideons.
Oh, I could spend many happy years down there at Gitmo with everything I need. Although I am not a terrorist, I once got very cross with a Port Authority bus driver and said “darn.” I am hoping this will be enough to gain me admittance. My travel agent says not to worry: The government already knows I have taken out several library books written by bearded authors.
Hey, I’ll keep a light on for you.
(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com)