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Rota Spain

 

     
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Greg Weber next to the Simon Lake in Rota early 70's.

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Key in Rota in late 1971 next to tender.

 

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(left to right) MM3(SS) Gary Bryant, MM2(SS) John Callison, QM3(SS) James Chapman (in Rota) 1974

 

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Key entering Rota harbor in late 1960's.

 

Bar outside of bull ring stadium.  Next series of pictures are of a bull fight taken by Russ Christie in 1971.

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Russ Christie Rota memories:  I made 5 patrols out of Rota.  I only went on the beach a few times as this period 71 - 75 Spain was ruled by the dictator Franco and the Rota area was not a very pleasant place to roam around.  I did go to a bull fight.  I spent most of my time taking pictures looking through the viewfinder as it made the slaughter further away.  When the bull was finally killed, they drag it around the stadium and the people whistle, which is their way of booing.  We sailors stood up and cheered "Viva Toro!".  We were asked to leave after the second bull was killed, which we gladly did.  The bull fight is actually a pretty equal fight, that is until the picador comes out on the horse and slices the tendons on the back of the bulls head with a razor on the end of a lance, so that the bull can barely raise his horns to fight any longer.  My stomach turned when I saw the horse up close.  It's rump was completely scarred from whipping which they must have done during its training to get it to stand still while a bull charges at it.  One of the kills was clean and quick, the other was sloppy as the sword went part way into the bulls skull when he jerked his head and the sword  flew out.  A guy had to come out with a hand-held device and put the bull out of its misery.  Lovely custom.

 Another time, I wanted to do some shopping for those very nice Spanish swords and also for Spanish dancer dolls for my family back home.  I was told that the nearby city of "Hareth" had some nice shops. I went to the main gate and hailed a cab.  I asked him to take me to "Hareth".  He said: "Fu**y sucky or downtown".  There were several whorehouses in the town.  I said downtown ---really I did.  We start along a road passing farms and people riding in wagons and I saw a lot of signs for Jarez but none for "Hareth".  I started getting nervous that I was being taken for a ride somewhere I did not want to go, so I asked the driver, "Is this the shortest way to "Hareth?"  He said that "Hareth was just ahead.  When I saw all the signs in the town it finally got through my think skull that the letter J in Spanish is pronounced as we do the letter H and the Z in Spanish is pronounced as we do the letters th.  Dumb American...

My only other Rota-related event happen when we were returning to port on a relatively calm, warm day.  The call went out for line handlers to lay topside.  I worked on the aft-most line, line 6.  I was told to go down the turtleback to rig out and test the capstan.  So I am kneeling beside the capstan when someone yells, "Watch out!".  I look up and all I can see is a wall of turquoise water about to crash down on me. The stern of the Key dipped into an ocean swell and the water swept me up off my feet.  I was completely underwater, held in place by my deck crawler.  The water was warm and clear.  I was only under for a few seconds.  The deck crawler saved me from being washed aft into the screw - which would have made for a lousy day.