Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Losing Myself in Rota


I arrived in Spain on a military flight flying in to the flight line at Rota.  Rota is a Spanish Naval base funded by the US.  It is a fairly small base, though the facilities are a bit spread out.  The barracks for enlisted personnel are rather close to the main gate.  My first weekend in Rota arrived before I had been fully introduced to the area.

I decided rather early on Saturday morning to go exploring.  I walked out the front gate and headed southeast for the beach I could just barely see.  Once I hit the beach, I started following it out to the west around the point.  I had no agenda, no plans, and I didn't speak a word of Spanish.

At the point, I had to cut through part of the town to get to the rest of the beach.  This was my first experience with the evolutionary version of city planning.  Streets in this part of town sort of sprang up around the buildings that already existed.  Straight lines were unheard of.  You might enter a street going west and come out going northeast and have no idea where you were when you got there.

I walked along the beach for miles.  I don't really remember how far I went before I decided to head back to the base.  It was far enough that walking back the way I had come was very unappealing.  I decided to cut straight back to the gate through town.  Lest this seem like a reasonable decision, keep in mind the following: I had never been in Rota before.  The streets were confusing at best.  I didn't have a map, nor had I seen a map of the area.  Undaunted by these facts, I headed directly through the town.

After half an hour of walking, I began to feel particularly disoriented.  I wasn't sure which way I was going or which way the base was.  This was the first time in my life that I felt truly lost.  Just when I had finally decided to try to confront a local with my lack of Spanish, I came around a bend in the road and saw the front gate.  As has usually been the case, even when I don't know where I am, where I am going, or how to get there, I arrived exactly where I needed to be.

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