Rota, Spain – November 26, 2009
We were fortunate enough to spend our Thanksgiving holiday in Rota, Spain and the surrounding area. At nearly six hours away from our home, it is a substantial drive. However, it was really worth the effort to get to Rota.
This trip marked the first time the kids had ever seen an ocean. Being on a point, Rota is bordered on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean. It is just north across the Bay of Cádiz from the town of Cádiz. On this trip, we did not have time to visit Cádiz. We will try to visit that city during a future adventure.
The Navy Lodge, on the U. S. portion of the Spanish Naval base, is where we stayed. Our entry to the base was thanks to our affiliation with the embassy in Madrid. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the mess hall on the base. We were able to enter the mess hall, pay for the meal, and then have it served to us by the U.S. Captain, the base commander. Many of his officers and their families helped serve the meal. It was really quite good. However, it was a little odd not to have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home.
The base also had an extensive commissary and exchange store. For “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving, we stood outside the Navy Exchange waiting to get some Christmas bargains. Other businesses on the base that made us feel at home included Subway, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Baskin Robbins. It was like a little piece of the United States!
Rota has a spectacular lighthouse which is just across the street from the Port of Rota. On the day we explored the town, the weather was either cloudy and rainy, or there were spectacular blue skies. One of the locals told us the population of the town at this time of year was around 25,000 to 30,000. In the summer, the town swells to nearly 300,000. Many, many people come to enjoy the beaches in the summer.
City hall is actually in a 13th-century castle, Castillo de Luna (Moon Castle). On the southeast side of the castle is the Plaza Bartolomé Pérez. On the wall of the castle is a plaque commemorating Bartolomé Pérez, one of the men that sailed with Christopher Columbus. The plaque reads, “The son of this town Bartolomé Pérez was a fearless crew member of one of the caravels commanded by Christopher Columbus, discoverer of America. And on the second trip to the new world, the Roteño (a person from Rota) sailor led the San Juan caravel as a pilot.” Caravel is a type of Spanish ship.
The church and fountain we came across was Our Lady of the O. Just across the plaza from the city hall. On the side of the church is a tile rendition of Jesus carrying the cross. The inscription below the figure reads, “In the persistent drought of 1917, the town of Rota, suffering at the prospect of tremendous misery, fervently implored Jesus of Nazareth and the triduum; and on the night of the last day, December 21, His venerated image was taken out in a procession of penance, the sky suddenly darkening, providentially falling copious amounts of rain during the course of that and successive days until remedying the prevailing calamity. In perpetual memory, the children of this village dedicate this memorial of gratitude to their most loving Father.”
We were allowed into the city hall and told we could take photos on the lower level only. That is where we came across the suit of armor, a beautifully carved staircase, a stained glass window, and a beautiful fountain in the central courtyard.
Upon emerging from city hall, we found ourselves looking down a side street. The view of the old and new lighthouses was quite a contrast.
Rota is a very quaint town which we very much enjoyed exploring.
On our final day in Rota, Hillary and I returned to the beach to watch the sunset. It was interesting to see the police driving along the sidewalk near the main west beach. The day was topped off with a tremendous sunset across the Atlantic Ocean.