April 24, 2014 WALKS IN HISTORY: La playa de la Costilla… continued Story & photos by J.A. Pilares
n our last article we took a long walk down the Paseo Marítimo, Rota’s sea promenade in la Costilla beach, ending the trip at Virgen del Mar. From here on the promenade becomes a winding path in the pinewoods to the west of town for some three kilometres to Punta Candor. Let’s take a walk, but first we should get us a six-pack of beer… Our walk will start in the path that leads away into the woods that begins next to the Parque Atlántico. These woods are not natural, but rather man-made. Over the centuries wind and sea erosion have gnawed away at the shore, while sand dunes would be pushed and pulled along the coast, sometimes invading the nearby farms. Humans realised that a barrier was needed to protect their homes from this “invader” and over the last two hundred years several species have been planted into the dunes to immobilise them, with a great deal of success. This forest is known both as “Los pinos” or “La Forestal”, although the second term tends to refer to the old military installations in the woods. Rota was already a military outpost before the Base was built, but not navy or aviation… but artillery. The Spanish 4th regiment of coastal artillery had several batteries
in Rota to defend the entrance to the bay of Cádiz , most of them hidden from view inside the forest; hence the name “La Forestal”. Most of these batteries and bunkers where built at the end of World War Two as Franco’s dictatorship expected an Allied invasion of Spain as part of a campaign against Nazi Germany, even battleship cannons –like those of the cruiser “Cataluña”- where emplaced here. The so called “pieza Guillén”, of 240/42,5mm, served in Rota from 1944 until 1996 when it was taken to Tarifa –in the Straits of Gibraltar-, from where it still defends Spain’s sealines. The Regiment finished moving away from Rota in 2002, and since then the entire forest is open to all that want to enjoy it.The old bunkers can still be seen, slowly sliding down from their original positions on top of the dunes (one has even made it to the beach), some turned into viewpoints from where great sights of the sea are to be enjoyed from over the forest canopy.The artillery emplacements are still there, albeit devoid of cannons, and turned into resting places with wooded canopies and benches. About halfway to Punta Candor, the forest is interrupted by a residential area and the hotel Playa de la Luz. Most of this area was built on top of the old –rather, ancient-
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almadraba of Rota. “Almadraba” is an arab term meaning “killing grounds” and refers to the areas where people would trap and hunt down tuna fish during the autumn months as these animals migrated from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean. “La almadraba” had two distinct areas. In the sea are the fishing weirs, probably built there originally in Roman times, where the tuna would be trapped and hunted down; and on land the factory, where the fish would be quartered, sometimes salted, and all the equipment kept.The factory burned down in the 1930’s and was never rebuilt because of the hardships of the Great Depression; only the empty warehouses and the concrete foundations remained. These warehouses were put to use during –and after- the Spanish Civil War by the Nationalist army, at first, and the Dictatorship, later. The warehouses became a makeshift POW camp and later a concentration camp for political prisoners. These were put to work in road-building in Rota and around town; the Avenida San Fernando or the rebuilding of the calle Calvario are just two of the projects they were put to work in. Again in 1956 many came to live here against their will. At that time the naval base was being built and the inhabitants of
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the farms within the perimeter had to be resettled. One-hundred and one families where moved here by the government, paying 30 pesetas each for the rent… although on official documents the money would figure as a “donation”. With time these people would move away to better housing and eventually the settlement became today’s Hotel Playa de la Luz. After the Hotel and the fishing weirs –or “corrales”- the forest continues on to Punta Candor along the beach. Before we reach the Hotel the beach is young and sporty, with groups of people playing all types of games on the shore while the more adventurous ride surf-boards or fly while kitesurfing. Beyond the hotel, the mood changes. The beach is usually sparsely occupied, which has given rise to a more “adult” use of it.The beach has become an unofficial nudist area… while the woods and dunes behind it have been turned into a gay “cruising” area. We are almost at the end of the beach and the coast begins to turn northwards towards Chipiona, but first we have to cross the Alcántara stream. At high tide it empties into the ocean and can be hard to ford, but by low tide a large sandbar isolates it from the sea, turning the estuary into a haven for wildlife such as migrating ducks. After we cross the stream we cease to see Cádiz as it falls behind the woods, but on the right, the town of Chipiona comes into view in the horizon. As we look at the sun beginning to set in the sea we can sit back in the sand to watch.The first stars begin to come into view as the twilight fades away and to our right the lighthouse of Chipiona blinks into the night, warning mariners of the Salmedina rock on the approach to the mouth of the Guadalquivir. The wind whistles through the pine trees behind us and the waves softly crash into the sand, together playing the music of the sunset. Remember that six-pack we got before setting off? Maybe now would be a good time to share a drink and enjoy the show that Nature grants us.
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April 24, 2014
April 24, 2014
A Day-Trip to Vejer de la Frontera Story by A.M. Ávila & Photos by Vicky Miller Recently, we were visited by some friends from the U.S. As part of our routine “tour” for our visitors, we usually take them to the area of Vejer de la Frontera, which is south of Chiclana following the coastal road towards Algeciras. It is a short, but fascinating, trip that we have made several times and which I would like to tell you about. Perhaps, I can give you some ideas for places to visit when your visitors arrive to Spain. (Now that they know that you are living in Spain, trust me, they will want to visit). The directions are fairly easy, take the A-4 South highway ( that can be picked up outside the Salinas industrial park which is located in El Puerto Santa Maria ) until it joins up to the E-5 East highway which then goes East towards Algeciras and Gibraltar. Of course, you can´t go wrong by plugging in “Vejer de la Frontera” into your GPS. Although Vejer was our ultimate destiny, our first stop was really about twenty minutes further down the road. It is a seaside-town called Bolonia and it is right next to the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. For some reason, visitors to Spain don´t ever seem to think about Spain as having been a part of the Roman Empire, and they are usually pretty surprised that this place exists. The ruins are well-preserved (if that makes sense) and there is a museum next to them. The museum and access to the ruins are closed on Mondays, though. It is all worth seeing, if only just for the fantastic setting in which it is located: an ocean inlet surrounded by rocky peaks, with Retinto cattle grazing freely in nearby pastures (and sometimes throughout the town), and some of the bluest water that I have seen since visiting Palermo, Sicily. Centuries ago, Baelo Claudia flourished and was the major exporter, throughout the Roman Empire, of tuna and “garum” (a salty-tasting, liquid seasoning comprised of fish remnants and viscera which were exposed to the sun and allowed to ferment). After having a “relaxing café con leche” at one of the nearby cafes, we began our trip back towards Vejer. It is located at the top of a good-sized mountain/hill and was once occupied by the Moors when they took over most of Spain in the
year 711 (the last Moorish stronghold was retaken in the year 1492, almost 800 years later). It is a curious place and is considered to be one of Andalucia´s picturesque “white villages.” Most of these villages, sprinkled throughout Andalucia, are painted white and some date back to the era of the Roman Empire. They are painted white to assuage the searing heat of the summers in sunny, southern Spain. Vejer de la Frontera (Vejer for short) is a small town with a conglomeration of uphill roads that never seem to end (especially if you are walking uphill), but once you catch a view from the summit you realize why this place was such a strategic and important stronghold for the Moors. You can see for miles in every direction and the views are very impressive. We had previously arranged to meet a friend of ours, Annie Manson, who led us through a wonderful labyrinth of crooked streets to her beautiful, hilltop home. Annie is a lovely, refined, and gracious British lady whose warm and affable smile can melt an iceberg. She is a person who, essentially, was a visitor to Vejer who never left, and she enjoys every minute of this Andalusian paradise. Annie gave us a tour of Vejer´s quaint and interesting town market that provides: fresh vegetables, seafood, and meat for its residents and visitors. There is an amazing variety of examples from all three of these categories which are obtained, literally almost, within a stone´s throw of this mountainside wonder. Accordingly, “fresh” is the word of the day. Annie takes advantage of this cornucopia of ingredients to provide cooking classes to her English-speaking guests and visitors. Check out Annie´s blog at http://www.anniebspain.com . At Annie´s house we met up with another friend and transplanted,Vejer resident, Chelsea Anthon, who is from Australia. Chelsea is hard to describe. She is a whirlwind, wrapped in the calm beauty of a summer´s day…. with an Australian accent. Last year, Chelsea was instrumental in shaking-up the local Sherry producing community when the concept of World Sherry Day was introduced. This innovative effort netted more than 400,000 participants through the internet social networks with over 8,000 persons, in 29
countries, participating in 300 individualized World Sherry Day events. Much to their delight, the local Sherry producers were left scratching their heads…and wondering what had hit them. This year, Chelsea is predicted to strike again, during International Sherry Week, which will host a variety of worldwide events from the 2nd to the 8th of June. You would be well-advised to keep an eye out for this lady whirlwind! Check out the International Sherry Week website at www.isherryweek.com . Together, we all proceeded to the top of the hill where the dungeons of the Moorish Caliphate used to be located and where there is now a Hotel and a Morroccan-style restaurant, El Jardín del Califa. There we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in an amazing atmosphere. Some of the dishes which we had for lunch included: tuna kebabs and lamb kebabs served with grilled potatoes and yoghurt sauces; beef tagine prepared with caramelized pumpkin and figs; and a selection of vegetarian appetizers – Falafel, Hummus, Babaganoush, Tabule, Feta cheese, and Marrakesh salad. Without providing a free plug for this restaurant, I will only say that the meal was excellent and that our friends found the atmosphere to be very unique and relaxing. (Please note that advance reservations are usually required). Our designated driver safely returned us to El Puerto and our visitors were pleased to have seen another side of Spain - one which is very different from what we see every day. There is no doubt that Vejer is a special place and that it makes for a memorable visit. Some people identify Vejer as the place where each year, on Easter Sunday, a bull is let loose and the streets are blocked in order to provide an impromptu corral for those who wish to make its acquaintance up-close. I´m not real sure what the purpose of the festival is but it is called an “embolado” which refers to the cork balls which are placed on the tips of the bulls horns. For more information in English, about Vejer and its celebrations, visit www.vejer.com For more information about our Vejer day-trip, or similar trips, please contact Virginia Miller at email@example.com.
April 24, 2014
The view from CView Costco's opening in Seville already scheduled. On May 15th Costco will open its first store in Spain, and it is opening within 90 minutes driving distance from Rota, in the city of Seville. This store is the first one to open in continental Europe; there are 25 already open in the UK. Seville will be the first one of a group of cities in Spain where Costco plans to operate, including Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. At the moment, the store in Seville is only available for membership sign-ups and for the issuing of membership cards. From the members' area it is already possible to see the familiar structure of all Costco stores. As you walk in you would think you are in the store closest to your house back home. The first section that members will see is electronics, with its tv sets, sound systems, fans and a/c units. The products available in Seville will be the perfect mix of Spanish, American and imported items, as well as the signature Kirkland products. Those of us who are already Costco members and who miss their famous hotdogs,
Alcalde Felipe Benítez Theater Copla Concert. Alejandra Rodríguez 21:00, Friday, 25 April Price: 15€. Magic With Magic Tissa And Magic Nano 18:00, Sunday, 27 April Price 3€ adults and children are free Day: Sunday 27th April Time: 18:00 h. Price: 3€ adults + 1 child free. Alcalde Felipe Benítez Theater’s ticket office: from Monday to Friday: From 18:00 tand two hours 20:00, or before the show at San Fernando Avenue.Tel.956810022. www. aytorota.es Tour The Bay By Sail Boat This 2 hour trip leaves at midday and sunset Price is 15€ per person with a minimum of 4 persons and a maximum of 5. Information
pizzas and Kirkland brand items, amongst a miriad other products, will soon have a chance to enjoy all those products and services that Costco offers to its club members. So if you are a member of Costco, don't miss the opportunity to come to Seville and keep enjoying the quality, unbeatable prices and services you are already familiar with. If you are not a member yet, it is very easy to sign up. During the next few weeks, there will be a kiosk by the main entrance to the base.You can also sign up online at www.costco.es or by calling 955 426 650 or 900 111 155. Or you can simply stop by their new store on Calle Ganímedes 9, Ciudad de la Imagen 41015, Seville, Spain. Take advantage of the special promotional price that is available until May 14th, with savings of 10 euros over the regular price of 30 euros plus VAT.This promotional offer of only 20 euros plus VAT is valid for one year and it includes two personal cards When you walk into one of the stores you will feel right at home. Al Lago Spanish Guitar Dinner On Saturday the 26th of April
Mary Lawlor: Brief Bio Mary Lawlor is Professor of English and American Studies at Muhlenberg College. Her most recent book, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: A Story of the Sixties and the Cold War, weaves together her scholarly knowledge with her personal experiences as a “military brat.” Her father was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific in World War II, flew missions in Korea, and was twice stationed in Vietnam. Mary, her mother, and her three sisters followed him from base to base and country to country during his years of service: by the time Mary graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools. These displacements, plus her father’s frequent absences and brief, dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad. As Mary came of age, tensions grew between her patriotic, Catholic upbringing and the values of the countercultural sixties. By the time she dropped out of college in Paris in 1968, she faced her father, then posted in Saigon, across a deep political divide. Fighter Pilot’s Daughter tells the story of the Lawlors’ nomadic life and shows how the global tensions between the US and the USSR sifted down from on high into the moods and dramas of the many homes
ZAHARA DE LA SIERRA
and reservations, Tourism Office, tel 956 846345. Organized by Diverta Sail Flamenco & Dinner at Bar La Feria, Calle Mina, 42, every Friday 19:30 – 21:30. 30€ per person. For reservations, call 664 026525.
Guitar Dinner in Al Lago Restaurant & Hotel on Friday the 26th. Check out the various events for this month. See firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mona for more info and details.
PUERTO DE SANTA MARIA
Flea Market on Sundays at Alameda Vieja s/n from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
San Marcos Castle Plaza Alfonso X. Free visits on Tuesdays with appointment. 11:30, 12:30, 13:30. Rest of the week it´s 6€ & 3€ kids.10:00 to 14:00 & 18;00 to 20:00 Phone: 956 85 17 51 Argentinea n Night at Molly Malone'. Friday May 2nd. Enjoy wonderful steaks and beef dishes. Jam Session Night Every Saturday at Molly's Bring your instrument and join in!
her family occupied. It adds an important chapter to the collective narratives of American military family life and of cold war America.
Insert for the Rota, Spain Navy Base's paper.