Castillo San Marcos

Castillo San Marcos
13th-century castle, El Puerto de Santa Maria. That WAS our house to the left and behind the tree!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Odds and Ends

“Life is good.”  That’s what my facebook profile says, a picture Tia took of my chest after I’d completed my first triathlon.  I’d bought that T-shirt in our base thrift shop (my favorite haunt, as nearly everything costs a dollar and families PCSing back to the States throw away the most amazing stuff).  And life continues to be good, despite the piercing reminders at unexpected moments of my immense loss.  I feel my mom with me, happy to see me so happy.  My greatest regret is that I can’t call her up and laugh with her about our crazy life here in Spain.

Three generations

Spain is a whirlwind of social events and festivals.  After the Puerto feria, the Motos came to town.  This deluge of motorcycles resembles the fabled locusts of the bible, albeit with roaring engines.  They filled Puerto’s plazas, every nook and cranny, for a noisy weekend.  We hid in our house.

Motos, motos everywhere
Watch the motos!  Click here.

Our social life here has blossomed.  I inherited a number of fancy dresses from both my mom and my sister Suzanne which supplement my thrift-store finds.   The constant shifting of personnel provides ample reasons to throw parties.  The Naval Hospital had a fancy change-of-command ceremony at their beautiful campus, and our friends Rowena and Dave hosted a Hawaiian-themed bash to celebrate the end of four fun-filled years in Spain.

Change of Command Ceremony...

and Change of Command dinner!
Goodbye Rowena and Dave!

It is also la temporada de las corridas de toros.  I am torn—both fascinated by the spectacle and mildly disturbed by the sheer brutality of stabbing a large animal multiple times.  But as I am an avid meat-eater, I still feel that the life of the toro bravo is infinitely more desirable than that of the McDonald’s-bound steer.  We visited a campo where bulls are bred, and they lead a truly idyllic life up until those 15 minutes in the bullring.  We attended a bullfight in Sanlúcar de Barrameda with the famous bullfighter Juan Jose Padilla, a matador who two years ago lost an eye in a goring.   He is astounding, bordering on reckless.  We watched him get lifted up onto the bull’s horns at one point, and the following week led to this series of photographs in Madrid. 

We also finally made it to Portugal.  Albufeira is a mere 3 hours from Puerto; we went with 6 other families, overwhelming the local restaurants with a party of 27.   It was lovely and fun, although we saw more of the hotel than anything else.  Portugal will see more of us!

Top of the hill in Albufeira, Portugal

Our German sister/cousin/daughter Sophie (in reality my cousin, but she lived with us for a year in California, so her status was seriously upgraded!) also graduated—finally—from school.  The girls and I flew there for a long weekend to congratulate her.  The German Abitur is nerve-wrackingly rigorous, and I’m proud to say that Sophie scored a 1.6 average—an A- on the American scale.  We went klettering to celebrate—a sort of German ropes course high in the trees. 

High in the German forest

Checking out universities, Heidelberg

On the home front, Tia got braces!  She looks so much older now, my little baby growing up into the most wonderful young lady.  We got two hand-fed cute little lorikeets, leaving them in the care of Todd during our trip to Germany; we returned to one lorikeet (long story).  And I ran my first-ever triathlon, the “sprint” version, without even training.  An impressive 2nd place finish for my age group, until you find out that placing included just the American women.  My friend Mati (una española) finished a full five minutes in front of me! 

The sweetest brace-face

Bye bye birdie

Mati (on right) the true first-place finisher

The girls and I continue to dance.  Todd said to me recently, “I never realized you were a show-off!”  I looked at him in amazement: what was his first clue?  It took him 27 years to realize this??  Here’s me dancing a buleria in our end-of-year performance with my teacher Lola de Cai, and Tia and Sasha in their own flamenco performance.  Then Tia performed with her class at the local theater, a recorder concert.  ¡Óle!  ¡Vivid las show-offs!

Two other events stand out in the past couple of months.  First, I was invited to a Spanish wedding, something I have longed for as the churches here are breathtakingly beautiful, and the Spanish have a knack for putting together first-class fiestas.  My friend Fernanda invited us to her son Carlos’s wedding at la iglesia de San Miguel in Jerez, followed by a reception at the Gonzalez-Byass bodega down the street.   In classic Spanish style, the ceremony started at 9:30 pm, followed by sherry and appetizers in the bodega.  Dinner was served around midnight, and cocktails followed in the dance-floor bodega at about 2 in the morning.  We danced our feet off, fueled by ample gin-and-tonics as well as a chuches (candy) table and little sandwiches that appeared around 4 am.  At about 6:30 am I cried uncle and we went home, tired but exhilarated, leaving the rest of the guests to welcome the sunrise.  I have never been to such a beautiful and all-out fun wedding; my feet will forgive me. 

Carlos and Maria, the happy couple

Magical night


Finally, June ended with the festival Noche de San Juan, a summer solstice event consisting of bonfires on the beach and a swim in the ocean at midnight.   The bonfire burns not just wood but anything you want to get rid of from your life.  Just write it down on a scrap of paper and throw it in the fire.  Poof!  Gone.  Legend also has it that if you walk backwards into the ocean at midnight holding hands, and completely submerge yourself, your wish made at that point will be granted.  Tia, Sasha, Ida and Narissa were daring enough to attempt this; I—being fully satisfied with my life—opted to stay dry and warm around the fire.  Life is good.

Hotdogs with Miguel

May all our wishes come true!

1 comment:

  1. Boo really wish I had a chance to catch you while you were back here.

    I know this sounds wistfully out of character for me, but I remember tiny Tia and Sasha swinging from my arms...they're so big now!


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