Sunday, July 17, 2011

Arrival in Spain

Early on the morning of July 15th, I saddled my way up into the hunchback of a C-5 in Delaware, whereupon I promptly fell asleep (with three seats to myself!) and woke up at Rota Naval Air Station, Spain. Immediately I was at a crossroads: stay at cheap, English-speaking, familiar accommodations on base or venture off and out? I ventured. Not far for the first couple of days. I stayed in El Puerto de Santa Maria for two nights at Hotel El Gazpacho. The spartan room, with all the charm of Soviet Russia, was a godsend with its black-out roller blinds and its tidiness.

My first evening there, I walked toward the pier for seafood. I ate a salad of grilled peppers con atun, along with shrimp in garlic sauce and a couple of glasses of vino blanco. I wandered the streets of this little port town till about 11, but I think I was one of the earliest to go to bed.
The bullfighting ring in El Puerto de Santa Maria. Alas, there were no games while I was in town.
A street near the city center.
My second day in El Puerto de Santa Maria started off bright and early with a run along the water just after 8. Once I cooled off in my room, the bed was more alluring than breakfast so I took a nap. A seven-hour nap. Those blackout roller blinds are from heaven, I tell you! As it is a teeny tiny town, I didn't miss much and I was up in time for their annual celebration of their patron saint (not Santa Maria, and I forget the name that was so carefully told to me). For this celebration, they carry the sarcophagus from the castle in the center of town, parade it around, then load it on a boat and take it to a nearby city- this is all true if nothing is lost in translation. I witnessed the parade but decided not to stick around for the boat part. As I was walking back to the Hotel El Gazpacho, I heard what appeared to be a mock battle but as I turned a corner I saw the fireworks.

The people carrying the sarcophagus are underneath. They had to rest every 150 feet or so.

After not sleeping all night (damn jetlag...) I was up early to get to the train station. It was a regular train to Seville, then high-speed to Madrid. Watching the scenery pass by, I was surprised by the large, large percentage of the countryside that is cultivated- whether corn, sunflowers, lots of low-laying vegetation or miles upon miles (and as far as the eye can see) of olive tree orchards. Also, if you're wondering, the countryside has gentle rolling hills that instantly made me think of Don Quixote de la Mancha- particularly when I saw the occasional wind turbines on the horizon.

A few observations:
-red pants are not uncommon here.
-red shoes are very common here.
-my Spanish accent, unintelligible in Latin America, passes quite well here! Alas, there tends to be an assumption that I actually speak Spanish. Eek.


EcoGrrl said...

gorgeous! lovely! jealous as all hell!

EcoGrrl said...

oh yeah and my brother used to fly the c-5's before he moved over to the kc-10's! huge planes, holy cow!