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Looking at Huntsville from Spain

I love southern Spain. The weather is delightful, the people are friendly to a fault, and the food is delicious. What’s not to like? Our daily routine goes something like this: Up about 8:00 or 9:00 or when ever it’s convenient; go for a 2 to 3 mile walk; cook and eat breakfast; take a nap; go out for lunch about 3:00pm; go home and take another nap; go to the beach; take a little nap on the beach; go home and settle in for the night.

Settling in for the night involves snuggling up on the sofa to watch TV. In our resort we can get German, French, Italian, and Spanish channels. We can also get Eurosport, the European version of ESPN, and the European version of CNN which broadcasts in English. Lynn likes to watch the German channels because she understands the language and thinks they have cool quiz shows. She likes to show off and answer the questions in German before the German contestants even have a chance. I, on the other hand, like to watch either Eurosport or CNN because I like sports and I can understand the language on CNN. I don’t like watching some of the weird sports favored by many Europeans, like a 3-day long cricket match, but this time of year there is a lot of tennis coverage. I like that.

The daily routine might be considered boring by some, but it suits my purpose for this particular vacation—which is to relax and forget about the trials and tribulations of Huntsville, Texas. Although my dearest friends in the world live in Huntsville, there are some folks and events that are best forgotten. That brings me to a Saturday night in Spain. We were settling in on the sofa, channel surfing and forgetting about Huntsville when what should appear right there on the TV set but the Café Texan in downtown Huntsville. Try to get this picture. I can see palm trees out of my window. Just beyond the palms is a very wide sandy beach and just beyond the beach is the beautiful Mediterranean Sea—and on the TV is the Café Texan. In short order I see the following people on the TV right here in Garrucha, Spain—Michelle Lyons (who was described by Christiane Amanpour as a “cub reporter”); Larry Fitzgerald of TDCJ fame; Robbie Magness, former editor of the Huntsville Item; and David Arkin, the current editor of the Huntsville Item and various other local folks. I also saw the Huntsville Item office and the Walls Unit. So much for forgetting about Huntsville. It is a very small world.

This is not the first time something like this has happened to us. In fact, the very first time Lynn and I went to Spain 10 years ago, we turned the TV to Eurosport and the very first person we saw was a guy who lived in the same apartment complex as Lynn in Auburn, Alabama. His name was, and so far as I know still is, Bill Kazmaier. At that time he was competing in the “World’s Strongest Man” contest. Although Bill (known to his friends as Kaz) didn’t win that year, he had won before. He’s still around and does the color for televised strength contests. Kaz is slightly larger than a standard automobile. His thighs are as big as my waist, which causes him to walk funny. His arms are so big that they won’t hang down by his side. They stick out like sloping airplane wings. Lynn’s former apartment overlooked the swimming pool in her complex. When Kaz jumped into the pool, 537 gallons of water splashed out. This became such a problem that the apartment management banned Kaz from actually getting into the pool. That didn’t keep him from appearing on television in Spain.

Back to our current trip. Some comment should be made about our daily lunches. First, all of them lasted about 2 hours or a bit longer. Each included 1 bottle of whatever the local wine happened to be and local sea creatures, some of which had tentacles. Many folks in Texas don’t eat things with tentacles, although there is a dish popular in some circles known as “mountain oysters” whose real name sounds very much like tentacles particularly after one has drunk a fair amount of wine.

A typical lunch might include an appetizer of pulpo which is fresh octopus thinly sliced and lightly grilled. Next comes an ensalda mixta followed by a main course of boccorones or calamari a la plancha. Lynn liked the boccorones and I craved the calamaris—which have tentacles. The wine is carefully consumed with each course. Desert was Flan for Lynn and something chocolate for me.

After a typical lunch, we participated in a very civilized Spanish custom known as a siesta. After I wake up from my siesta, I’ll tell you about our last few days in Spain.