Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two Posts in One Day? Are You Trying to Make up for Something?

My thoughts on aimless wandering:
I am a planner at heart. I love lists and calendars and being packed a week in advance. When getting ready for an out of town wedding and another bridesmaid needs a q-tip or some cuticle scissors, I simply light up when I'm the only one who thought to bring some. That being said, spontaneity can be rewarding, as witnessed by the above picture of a ramshackle monastery found when off-highwaying on the way to Seville.

When planning to not plan, be sure a GPS or good map and enough food for getting lost are involved. Otherwise, us planners may grow nervous for our well-being.

Don Juanito, oft-referenced and only now shown. He is the blue one that I am about to crush. He got very good gas mileage and had a cigarette lighter to charge the necessary-when-one-does-not-speak-Spanish-to-understand-roadsigns GPS. Therefore, we liked him.

I now plan to eat something. Dinner is asking for me.

Spain Wants Recognition

Brocheta. Not a male-friendly bruschetta, but a big luscious kabob in Rota.

Pastries are unattainable during siesta. Which is unfortunate.
Catedral de Jerez de la Frontera. Any city with "de la Frontera" tacked on the end was a frontier city on the Christian line during the Crusades. I love you, guide books.

My thoughts on the above:
It's interesting to be able to see historical layers in Moorish fortresses, reconstituted as Christian strongholds, resconstituted for Spanish medieval uses, but it's a bit sad to think that it all resulted from hate and fanaticism. It's a somber thought that both good and evil are done in the name of God.
Goodbye, Jerez. You have been fun, but not enough fun to make us stay.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bad Mood Bek

When in a bad mood, get on gmail and gchat your college friend. Then commiserate about things. After commiserating (and realizing that the word "commiserate" has only one 's'), bring up things that you are truly happy about.

If you do such a thing, you may come up with cheering answers such as these:

1. Fathers
2. Clean Houses
3. Chocolate Milk
4. Visiting Eachother
5. Good Wine
6. Island Music
7. Things from Trinidad
8. Fresh Flowers (see the ones on my table in the picture above)
9. White Christmas Lights

Space A to the Wrist of Spain

Rota isn't really the "armpit of Spain" many people told me it was. It's actually pretty nice, in a "less-interesting-than-the-rest-of-Spain" kind of way. It's more like the wrist of Spain. Pretty, but not particularly captivating as a body part in and of itself.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I insist on these Spain posts being as organized as possible, so first of all, for anyone traveling Space A, here are the things we were told and learned that will benefit you. For those of you who are not interested, please skip to the pictures.

1. Plan ahead. Know where you want to go and the best terminals to get there. Try Dirk Peppard's for information and sign up at each terminal at www.takeahop.org.

2. Officially, you have to follow all FAA regulations (for instance: no liquids over 3 oz. in your carry-on), but we got away with bringing some.

3. If flying to Rota, before you go off base, make sure to get the leave papers stamped at the airport and the little stickers for your IDs at the gate security office. Also, before you leave town, make sure to get your passports stamped at the Rota Police Station, so that you can get a hotel room wherever else you go.

4. Ask me more if you want to go. This is boring.


Our first trip into Rota, off American property, into the real Spain... we pack up, make sure we have Euros, and set off. And step into a muddy swamp. The Wife of the two insisted on going back to change into our only other pair of shoes. The Hus of the the two was very glad for this later.

Not 24 hours, no, we are open 2,400 hours for your daily convenience.

Manchego Cheese. Yummm....

More cities and more pictures to follow

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We're Not in DC Anymore, Toto

The Civic needs a new battery.

"Bek? Um. The battery died and I'm stuck at the intersection of Creighton and Walmart, " Jon said half an hour ago, "I don't know what to do. Come and you can steer while I push the car into a better spot." I hopped in the car and headed out to help my Hus-in-need.

On my way, he called again, "I got a push into the opposite parking lot. Meet me there."

When I arrived, a big red truck was attached to our little white '94 Civic with jump cables and Jon was talking to the truck's owner, who was giving battery advice.

Here's how I know we're in the south:

TWO (not one, but two) people ran over and helped Jon push the car into a parking lot from the intersection and a wholly separate stranger pulled up to give him a jump... all within 3 minutes. They were all friendly about it, too. Welcome to Pensacola. We may not have any jobs, but the people sure are nice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's About That Time, Mrs Butters

The Hus and I are home. We got in this morning at 6am, after driving all night. So our fridge was empty and I got some food to fill it.

I got corn dogs for the freezer. (So that it didn't get jealous of the fridge, of course)

I say that to say this: Soon I will post interesting things and pictures. But not yet, because I haven't uploaded any pictures, and what are interesting things without pictures?

In conclusion, here is a picture of the blender/food processor we purchased today. Our old one broke. And by old, I mean it was only a year and a half old and the plastic container cracked during the routine blending of a smoothie, which I think shows very poor craftsmanship. It is also why we did NOT buy an Oster this time around. We bought one that will also process basil and pine nuts etc into pesto. Yummm.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Don Juanito Takes us There

The Hus has found his second calling driving our little Don Juanito around Andalucia. He drives like a European and I have reminded him multiple times what a great wife I must be for not complaining or nagging during the hair-raising ride.

We have seen four more cities since my last post. Jerez de la Frontera, Seville, Zuheros and Granada. I have much to write on each, but will limit myself to short glimpses until our pictures can say more than my poor descriptions.

Seville´s grand cathedral reminded me how even man-made splendour can remind us how large and very great our God is. It´s high bell tower enabled us to look down on flying buttresses and pigeons, which was barely worth the 30 or so floors we climbed.

Zuheros was God-made splendour at it´s finest. Perched on an outcropping of rock in the Sierras, the remnants of it´s moorish castle jut proudly over the miles and miles of olive groves it looks down on. It´s white-walled city has steep ¨thank God Jon is driving¨ streets and at the top of the mountain (which my Europeanesque driver of a husband tore up the side of), it has caves with neolithic (3000 BC) drawings, which we did not get to see, since it is Sunday.

Granada we breezed through. Divine blessing got us a parking spot right next to the entrace to la Alhambra, we climbed, we saw, we left. There are no words to describe, so pictures shall suffice at a later time.

We are now in Nerja, the home of the ¨Balcon de Europa¨, which I am sure, more pictures will show to be beautiful.

Love to all!

PS... we drove through the Sierra Nevadas on our way here and they were quite awesome.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Update from the Iberian Peninsula

Rota is cute. The Hus and I spent yesterday walking around, looking into a church, a baby castle and out to the beach (it was very windy, someone insisted we should walk out onto the sea wall and I got beach-hair (sand, salt, water) in a dreadful way). We got some cute pictures and tried to be artsy with them. You can be the judges when we return and post photos.

Our shoes (and my boots) are showing their trustworthiness or lack thereof. Yesterday we put them through 7 or so miles of use and have picked our favorites (out of two pairs each) to walk in. In related news, we just rented a car for the week, so yay for our tootsies. We'll still do cities on foot, but it makes things easier. And get this. Seven days. One week's rental for $200. Dollars. Not even euros. And if we bring it back sooner, we only pay for the days we use it. I love you, NEX car rental. I really do.

'Don Juan', our little blue rental car, is very cute and has excellent gas mileage. He is manual with automatic windows and a cigarette plug for our GPS to charge. We like him.

Last night we went to Las Tinajas, a local restaurant, on recommendation of the base CO's wife. We had a tapas-type meal, including toasted bread with Roquefort cheese and Patatas with varied sauces. Our main dish was Brocheta de la Casa - one large kabob with pork, red pepper, chorizo and onions. It was so very Spanish and so very delicious. They also had fresh local olives (little green ones with pits) that I ate all by myself, as the Hus is not a huge olive fan. I didn't complain.

One of our waiters looked like a Spanish version of Ross from friends. We wanted a picture of him, but didn't want to make him feel bad. He was so awkwardly lovable. When Ross brought us little shot glasses of amber liquid, he tried to explain something in Spanish. Our dumbfounded expressions didn't change, so he mimed sipping from the glasses and said, "Dulce". Okay, I nodded, we'll sip it and enjoy the sweetness (unlike the other table of Americans who had taken their's like shots). It was yummy. When I asked what it was, he said something from across the room that sounded like "romil". I want more, but no one seems to know what I'm talking about when I ask.

Also, on base there are herds of rabbits. I didn't know they came in herds, but apparently Spanish rabbits do. It's fun walking back to our room at night and seeing the outlined sillouettes with long ears against the lighted hotel. So far, they are not interested in meeting me or letting me pet them. In that way, they are very much like American rabbits.

Tonight, the Hus and I will spend some more time in Rota and tomorrow, we're off and away. We have no plan yet (so far that has worked out well for us), but we have a rental car, a GPS, maps and lots of guide books. We have about thirty words of Spanish between us and semi-proficient, albeit useless, German. However, armed with my new boots and some euros, I think we'll do just fine.

Mom, we're going to Seville, where the biggest cathedral in the world awaits us. I'll take pictures.

Let's hope we can find a couple cheap internet cafes on the way - I'm using the blog as my journal to remember things :).

The Hus and I are hungry. Tapas and Cruzcampos, here we come.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ta Daaaa!

We made it! The Hus and I are currently in Spain, at the base library.

After a wonderful couple days in Charleston with my extended family, where we got our pre-trip relaxation, we realized that Charleston didn't have the flights we wanted, and drove Monday night up to Springfield, caught 4 hours of sleep and a couple hugs from the in-laws and then drove as the sun rose over snowy Delaware to Dover AFB. We walked in at 8:15, were immediately pushed to the front of the line in front of all the retirees and caught a flight out at 11:55 - the first one. 7 hours of alternately napping and playing sudoku (this must be what it's like to be a dog), we arrived safe and sound in Rota, Spain at 2:30 am, local.

Now, having a full night's rest under our belts, we're on our way to the NEX and then to walk around Rota. I hear there's a lovely little Gypsy market outside the main gate.

To all of you following us through the blog, we will update as much as possible without planning around computer time. Pictures will be posted upon arrival in the US.