These CRAZY caterpillars!

One of the nuisance animals in southern Spain is a caterpillar.

Not just any caterpillar.

We have one in particular called the Processional Pine Caterpillar.  Now this may come as a surprise but they live in pine trees (shocker!). The processional part of their of name is where it gets interesting.  The walk all together lined up in a little (or rather long) line.

It’s pretty interesting actually, they only come out during this time of year so you know when to look for them.  The funny thing is this I’ve lived here for 3 1/2 years and this was the first spring that I actually saw them!

Now as cool as they look the problem is that their little hairs cause lots of problems in people and pets if they are touched (or eaten by your dog!) They are super irritating and I’ve heard of people having them in a jar in the house and the hair still irritating their eyes. They are bad news, health wise!

Also if your dog gets the hairs in their mouth it can actually cause the tongue tissue to die! Crazy! Thankfully we have NO pine trees near our house, just palm trees with their own sets of problems!

If you happen to see any of these caterpillars, look but PLEASE don’t touch!

Our ghetto dog park…

We don’t have a dog park on our base.  There is one off base but my Spanish isn’t good enough if there were some kind of incident with my dog.

So while we have tried to get the powers that be to built a dog park (never gonna happen) we just have decided to randomly take over a softball field that isn’t being used. (what are we going to do when softball season starts!?!)

We always follow the rules

 

Bowser was in heaven!

 

M had fun loving on all the puppies!

 

I love this dog!

 

All the dogs got along great except for one little scuffle between two boys that ended up with a cut lip.  There were 4 boxers there which was a lot of fun!

100 Montaditios

One of my favorite places to eat in Spain is 100 Mondaditos.  It is a sandwich place that has just about every variety sandwich you can think of.

Every Wednesday everything on the menu is 1€, so a couple of my girlfriends and I decided we needed to go out to dinner tonight!

100 Montaditos, I love you!

 

Picture perfect setting, right on the beach at sunset!

As usual we were pretty much the only people in there. There were a couple of other occupied table but they were just having drinks, no one else eating.   6:30pm and you can guarantee the only people in a restaurant will be Americans!

Inside

The tables all have menu’s and order sheets so you just write down the number of the sandwich you want along with any sides, drinks, etc. Then just go up and hand it to the cashier, pay and sit down until they call your name.

Waiting at the counter, food please!

 

Beachside Rota, even better in summer when you can eat outside.

 

 

Montaditos and chips!

Here is how the montaditos arrive, a bunch on a plate with a pile of fresh potato chips in the center. The bread is this delicious crusty Spanish style bread. Now as to what we ordered: a couple of chicken caesar, one with kebab meat, one with Spanish tortilla (which is basically a potato frittata) and my absolute go to number one favorite, chorizo and brie. So. Good.

O couldn't wait any longer! Stop taking pictures mom!

 

Patatas con 4 salsas... yummy fries with 4 sauces - usually aioli, ketchup, taco and kebab. Comes with cute forks to eat them with (or fight with your sibling over - your choice)

Dessert!

Okay, I know it looks wierd but this is a dessert montadito. Yummy crusty warm bread filled with chocolate. Let it sit for a minute so it gets nice and melty. They also have a version with a berry sauce added. You would never believe that a chocolate sandwich would be delicious. My kids go nuts for them (and were COVERED in melty chocolate)

Lucky for anyone stateside, 100 Montaditos is going to be opening stores in the U.S.! While I don’t know if they are going to have the same delicious combos, you have to go try them if you see them!

My happy place – Puerto Sherry

Puerto Sherry is what I pictured Spain would be like before we moved here.

I thought my house would look like these houses (not knowing we didn’t have a choice and HAD to live on base!)

Hello beautiful houses, will you be mine?

Puerto Sherry is where I go when I start to feel bummed about living overseas (I really do love it, it’s an awesome opportunity and I am going to miss the hell out of it when we leave but it can be challenging!)

As a matter of fact I DO love bougainvillea arching over my windows! I’ll take this one!

Puerto Sherry is a charming neighborhood that is parked right on the bay and has a small group of restaurants and a small beach.  The parking is pretty horrible (par for the course in Spain – when someone tells you about a restaurant the parking situation is one of the biggest pros/cons!) But there are parking lots and if you go during ‘American’ dining times as opposed to Spanish, you are fine.

Now our favorite place to eat? Blanca Paloma.  It is a small Italian restaurant that actually has another larger twin a few miles away. However there is no competition when it comes to the view!

The kiddos hanging out on the rocks next to the tables…

Big O and little O, hanging out at Blanco Paloma. You can see the beach in the background.

The kiddos and I last Mother’s Day… (A little blurry but you can see the city of Cadiz in the background)

Cutie pie!

A few things about this picture… first of all look at that great house behind O… And it’s for sale!! Also see the street right there? The street actually runs between the restaurant and the outdoor seating.  The outdoor seating is on a little strip that sits right on the water. The street ends at a small parking area so there isn’t really a ton of traffic. Also hey look there is Blanca Paloma’s phone number just in case you feel like giving them a call!

The view along the rocks, always LOTS of fishermen

Why can’t I have this roof on my house!!

M posing!

Puerto Sherry, Blanca Paloma, get there. You won’t regret it.

Working in Spain

The work situation here in Spain isn’t the best.  If you need two incomes to survive you may have some trouble once you get here.

Every country that has a U.S. Military presence also has a SOFA agreement put into place.  A SOFA agreement is the Status of Forces Agreement and pretty much outlines how the military is allowed to function in that community.  One important part of the SOFA agreement states that NO Americans can work off base and that there must be seven Spanish employees for every three American employees on base.

This SOFA agreement impacts the job availability on the base and reduces the job opportunities.  There are pretty much only three options for working on base; the commissary, the Navy exchange and MWR. Oh wait, four, also the elementary/high school.

The first two years we lived here I didn’t work.  I stayed busy with little O and volunteering at my daughter’s school.  I had a great group of friends and enjoyed staying home and living here.  When I did finally go back to work I applied at the commissary (which is the military grocery store) and was hired as a teller – basically a front end supervisor.  The commissary employs Americans as tellers, stockers, and upper management.  I believe all of the jobs are GS jobs which come with benefits and get you in on the GS job ladder.  All cashiers are Spanish.  Upper management is hired from the states (at least all the people that were working there when I did had worked at other commissaries stateside and then transferred here).  I LOVED working there. It was my first opportunity to really get to know some of the locals really well and they were all so. much. fun.  I would still be working there except for the hours. It’s retail and the hours reflect that. ALL my shifts were closing shifts and I hated working weekends.  Other than that I really enjoyed it and loved chatting with everyone coming in to shop. I felt like I got to talk to everybody on base every day! Bagging is also a popular job, but it is working for tips so if you are counting on the money that can be iffy.

The exchange is the same situation, retail hours.  Americans run register, stock and are in management.

When I left the commissary I applied at the Child Development Center or CDC.  It is the daycare on base and is under the umbrella of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.  I used to nanny so I had experience.  I met some more great people here, there is a pretty good mix of Americans and Spanish working here.  There are both GS and NAF positions.  NAF positions don’t have the same benefits as GS but are easier to get hired into.  There are a number of different classrooms and the center is open from 6:30-5:30 and closed on weekends so the hours are pretty good.  I worked in the classroom for a few months before getting hired for the front desk position.  I’ve really been enjoying it and once again, love getting the chance to talk to everyone coming in. MWR is also in charge of the movie theaters, restaurants, the library, bowling alley, the gym, ITT and Liberty.  They post available job positions online in case you want to see just what is available – Rota MWR Job Listings.

The elementary and high school also employ spouses, kindergarten aide positions, lunch monitors, and substitute teachers are the most common.  There aren’t a ton of positions open but if you have teaching experience you may be able to get hired.

One issue is that soon there will be American ships stationed here, something that will increase the population on the base but won’t really create more jobs.  So there will probably be much more competition for the jobs that are currently available.

If you have a degree and want to use it you probably won’t be able to.  And if you don’t have a degree this is the perfect time to finish it! It seems like EVERYONE is attending college here, from Associate’s to Graduate degree programs.

So that is the job situation on base.  I’m really looking forward to moving somewhere where I will actually be able to do something that is in my actual degree/career field. Hawaii is just perfect for that!