Rivera Gardens: The BEST viveros ever!

Okay, I have heard about this place for YEARS and have had numerous people tell me I HAVE to go… Our nurseries here are called viveros, and they are all over the place. The one right by the base is Viveros El Lago, I have spent a pretty penny in there on pots, flowers, herbs and ceramics.

Well one day we had some time to kill and decided to head out to the big viveros in Chipiona. A friend gave me directions and I thought I knew where it was based on the few times I’ve driven through Chipiona. Well we follow those directions and get no where. We were out in the country with nothing looking like a garden center in sight. Finally after back tracking and asking for directions and STILL not being able to find it we gave up. Decided to keep heading down the road and go to Las Dunas mall in Sanlucar. Wouldn’t you know it, we ran into the dang garden center! It was no where NEAR where I thought it was and where my directions said…

Well we found it and I could have probably wasted an entire day in there…

From the outside. The play area inside. Jungle gym & playhouse. There is also a small merry go round. And while your kids play you can enjoy a snack or coffee from the cafe inside. So nice.

There is a huge pond in the middle of the place with an island and multiple bridges. And lots and lots of koi.  I have no clue what my son is doing, probably some superhero pose.

Oh my. The plants. I’ve pretty much had to let my garden go which was really hard this spring when all I wanted to do was buy a crap load of flowers and plants. It didn’t help that we had a super hard frost for the first time in 4 years that killed EVERYTHING! My hibiscus, my banana plant, my dame de la noche. All my big stuff froze! It’s all starting to come back but I am just hoping I get some flowers out of my hibiscus before I move! Anyways, it was very hard not to buy a hydrangea in every color, they are one of my favs. (Although it took like 4 times to spell the name right)

Along with plants they also have animals! Puppies and chickens and peacocks, oh my! Seriously though if we have a yard when we move to Hawaii I am going to get some damn chickens. I want chickens SO BAD! Also who knew you could just buy peacocks? They were about 70-80 euro each, not too bad right?

O hiding under this pretty fern. Me and the girl…

This place also had outdoor furniture, grills, home decor, and tons and tons of ceramics. They have a sister store next door that sells cut flowers. It was closed when we went which is probably a good thing. Fun day shopping!

Rivera Garden directions and info.

Tween drama

 

Oh my. I don’t even remember what argument this was even about. I spied this on her door the next day and couldn’t help laughing.  I know it’s just going to get worse from here and not as amusing. The joys of having a ten year old daughter…

Driving in Spain

If you are moving here you may have a few questions about bringing/buying a car and getting a license.

I was very stressed out before we came to Rota, trying to figure out if we needed to get an international license or if we could get a Spanish license or WHAT we needed to do! I had zero luck finding any information on blogs, or anywhere on the internet.

Thankfully you get walked through the steps when you get here.

Upon arrival, all newcomers are advised to attend the Fleet and Family Support Center’s ICR class. It is basically a week long introduction to Spain, the culture, the food, everything you need to know about living on base (or off). It also is where you will take the test for your Spanish driver’s license. Your American license is good for 30 days (I think!) so you can drive on  that while waiting for your Spanish one.

The test is fairly easy, you are given study materials, and the majority of the questions concern traffic signs which are a little different over here. I believe that our licenses were ready a week or so later.

As far as cars go, I would recommend shipping a vehicle as soon as possible. Cars can take 45-60 days to get here and rental cars are expensive over here! Ideally if you have two cars you can ship one early and rely on one car for awhile before you move. You are authorized one car per family but once you get here you can also purchase a Spanish spec vehicle aka Rota Beater.  They tend to be crazy overpriced for what you are getting (usually 10-15 years old, still costing a few thousand dollars) but you can also find some for a   few hundred euro that will get you from point A to point B.

Another issue that concerns everyone is whether or not they should bring their SUV/truck/minivan over. Will it even be driveable in Spain? Everyone pictures those narrow one lane streets in European cities! Luckily driving on base isn’t an issue, plenty of parking and wide roads. Driving from town to town, going to the stores, malls, etc., there is usually ample parking. The only times you may have an issue is driving in older sections of towns. We have had moments where we’ve been in a tight fit with our Altima! Having to make a 3 point turn just to turn onto another street is very stressful! We try to avoid those sections of towns! Park and walk!

We were a one car family for the first two years we were here. I was a SAHM and didn’t NEED a car most days. If I did I would just drive my husband to work. Once I started working we picked up a 1996 BMW for 3K. It ran great for us and we were very happy with it. We then decided to purchase a Volvo from one of the dealers that sells to military personnel overseas.  We got a GREAT deal and are shipping it to Hawaii through Volvo so we can ship our other car through the military.

There a a couple of new car dealers you can purchase a car through; Volvo, BMW/Mini and Exchange New Car Sales. Exchange New Car Sales sells Chrysler, Ford and Harley brands.  Volvo and BMW generally have some floor models if you are looking for something immediately or you can custom order and get it in a few months.  Do some research because if we had owned our Volvo for less than a year and then moved back to Virginia, they would have made us pay taxes on it!  Some states waive this, some you need to own your car for six months before registering it, some require at least a year.

Got any car or driving related questions? Let me know!

 

Photo sesh!

Okay, so these are some photos one of my friends took of me in my fancy feria outfit! Carolyn is an insanely talented photographer and I had SO much fun with her!

If you are in Rota, look her up! Andros Photography.

 

 

And then pulled my family in for a quick shot!

Mother’s Day Weekend Recap

We had a fun weekend, took the dog to the beach, went to feria in Jerez, then out to dinner for Mother’s Day at Blanca Paloma, aka my happy place.

My kidlets were threatened that they better be on their best behavior so I could enjoy my favorite dinner, the beautiful day, and the sunshine. They did great, iPods and Nintendo DS’s helped.

 

Me and crazy pants. He demanded a silly photo.

The salad of my dreams. Fresh mozzarella, fresh pesto, sun-dried tomatoes. So, so good. I also had some bruchetta with tomato, provolone and feta.  No pictures of that because it was inhaled.

Happy Mom’s Day to me! I swear I don’t always have bitch face!

On our way out, the beach was PACKED when we got there and empty by the time we left. It was a beautiful day!

On Saturday a friend of mine and I took our boxers to the beach. This whole area is under water at high tide but at low tide there is a TON of room for them to run.  Swimming isn’t allowed so it stays empty and we can let the dogs run and they don’t bother anyone.

 

Bowser decided to cool off and get into the water. He’s never done this before, but once he realized how much it cooled him off he didn’t want to get out!  I don’t even know if he can swim! We’ll have to see this summer!

All three puppies! Bowser loves his buddies!

In the amount of time that we were there (maybe an hour total walking) I got sunburned! This Spanish sun is NO JOKE!

And here come all of the feria posts…

Feria is the Spanish equivalent of a county fair. They originated from trading posts and have evolved into a big celebration with horse show, fair rides and tons of food. Different organizations set up casetas or tents and sell food and drinks as well.

At work we have our own feria for the kids. Each class has been working on some dance steps to the traditional Sevillana dance.  Everyone dresses up in feria attire, similar to what most people would consider flamenco dresses.

The day started out rainy and of course we were panicking over where we were going to hold it if it was raining, but the rain cleared and the sun came out and it ended up being a beautiful afternoon.

 

Some of the decorations we hung up, most of them made by the kids in the center. We put window boxes on every window and make about a million tissue paper flowers. Also draw some gypsy bars on the windows. Makes for a very cheerful center!

 

Setting up… Thankfully this is after the rain stopped. Each classroom also decorated one of those hanging triangles for their ‘caseta’.

Hanging out in O’s class with Miss Ana before feria starts. I had so much fun getting all dressed up!

Me and M. She loved getting all dressed up in her feria dress.  I ended up taking in the sides the night before as the dress was a size too large for her. Also pinned the front of the skirt up a bit so she wouldn’t trip because it was really long.

The babies. So stinkin’ cute! They pretty much just sat there and looked adorable in their tiny dresses!

Here is one of our one year old classes. They had maracas and were dancing all over the place with them.

A TON of parents showed up, it was so much fun!

Hello blue sky and sunshine!

O was a very serious dancer.

 

Once he was all done he was smiling!

M did great, lots of skirt swirling!

Me and my two kiddos, looking all Spanish!

Me and our assistant director, Patricia. I loved her dress, it was all embroidered, beautiful!

Me with my Spanish amigas! Cristina, Cristina, Maria del Mar, Maria Jose, Luisa, Aurora and Inma.

The start of Rota and El Puerto de Santa Maria’s feria’s is this week and I can’t wait to go and take a million pictures of our last feria. This is the first year I’ve had my own dress so I am very excited over that. Plus every year we feel more and more comfortable hanging out at feria.