Christmas Base of Ops

Christmas Base of Ops
Rota, Spain
Rota, Spain I call this Christmas Base of Ops because we will stay in Rota and head out from there for several day trips. The four of us departed from our home this morning at about 05:20. We ultimately arrived at the Rota Naval Base at about 11:30. The drive was a little taxing, much as it was 25 months ago when we spent Thanksgiving here. On the trip two years ago, we drove the entire distance in the rain. On this trip, we were in and out of fog until we were about 200 kilometers north of Rota. We were thankful when we finally drove out of the fog. We were able to enjoy the scenery as we dropped out of the higher ground to the city of Seville. Seville’s average elevation is 25 feet. We drove through Seville and headed on south via AP-4 (toll road). When we were about 50 kilometers north of Rota, we drove back into the fog. It remained foggy all the way to the Navy Gateway Lodge. At the main gate to the base, we stopped to obtain a pass for our vehicle. This time, because of our license plates and our diplomatic passports, we were told we could just pass through. The staff at the lodge were very friendly. While we were checking in, one of the men printed out the weather forecast for our stay. We have two rooms here, both nicely appointed. There is a bedroom, bathroom, and a living room. There are large, flat-screen televisions in the living room and bedroom. In the living room, there is also a coffee maker, microwave, and small refrigerator-freezer. During our drive, at about the halfway mark, we stopped to get gas. While we were there for our “pit stop”, we bought some of those small chocolate donuts. Tyler and I ate those because the women did not want any. They were not great, but they did take the edge off. By the time we arrived in Rota, both of the ladies were ravenously hungry. When we got to our rooms, we literally tossed our luggage in the rooms and went back to the car. We drove a couple of the blocks to the base exchange complex. We went inside and immediately had Subway sandwiches. They were very good since we have not had one in a long, long time. When we finished our lunch, we walked into the NEX (the portion that sort of reminds me of a Walgreen’s store). Leslie and I bought several things, including some wine and snacks for later. After leaving that part of the NEX, we walked into the part of the NEX that reminds me of a Wal-Mart. Of course, we bought several things there too. Lastly, we walked into the commissary. That is the grocery store. We bought a few grocery items that are hard to find in Madrid. After all of that, it was back to the room for a well deserved nap! We woke up and headed into Rota. The waterfront is only about two kilometers from the lodge. We parked at the port and began our walk. We walked to the plaza in front of the parrish, Our Lady of the O. There was a nativity scene in front of the church. Just about 100 meters from the church we stopped at a small souvenir shop. Leslie bought a magnet for her collection. I bought a sticker for my journal. We continued walking, heading in the general direction of the pedestrian mall we had stumbled upon last trip. On the way, we found the Plaza de Espana. Just around the corner from there we found our way back to la Plaza bar. We had stopped here the last time we were in Rota. The bar takes its name from the Plaza de Andalucia. We had two vino tintos, one cerveza, one Coca Light, and a small bag of potato chips. All of that came to a whopping 7.30 Euros. I love small towns in Spain! There were several Christmas lights in the plazas and the pedestrian mall. There was also a group of three young women dressed up in white clothing and wearing fake carrots over their noses. They were pushing a shopping cart that had been decorated as a small float. They had a CD player with them, playing Christmas carols. They were also making baloon animals. At one point, Leslie approached them and asked if they had any carols in English. They did not. So, she asked if they knew the song Feliz Navidad. Of course they did. So the three of them and Leslie sang for a while for all passers-by to enjoy. From there we made our way to Plaza San Roque. There, the church of the same name, was open. We went inside and bought a rosary for a friend in the U.S. The church was nice on the inside. I took a few photos. We began our march back to the car. In doing so, we went back by the parrish of Our Lady of the O. It was open this time. Tyler and I went inside. It was quite a beautiful church. I took several photos of the interior. I went to get the car, came back near the church, picked everyone up and drove back to the lodge. Once there, we opened a bottle of wine and ordered a pizza.

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