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So, you've arrived in Rota or are due to any day, week or month now, and although you've no doubt received an endless array of updated and helpful information from your current command or the Naval Station Rota Base website, there are just still so many 'how do I, what do I, where do I' questions that you need answers for...like, yesterday!
It's your lucky day!
After receiving many, 'pleeeeeeease help', emails from current and soon-to-be NAVSTAR locals, requesting non-generic advice, I selected the three most requested questions to ease your mind answer.
Question 1: Can I get my hair (roots) colored while living in Spain?
This was one of my first anxieties before moving to Spain, as I was a nearly every three-weeks platinum blonde who had nightmares about having to either rock the redneck roots or butcher my hair into a burning shade of DIY Garfield orange.
Either way, I didn't like my options, so the moment I arrived on base, I began asking women (with nice coloured hair) where they went. The same answer, Jennifer Kemp in Sanlucar.
Although there is a beauty/hair salon on base, I chose to listen to the masses and SO glad I did. Jennifer Kemp Salon frequented by many Americans is located in the beautiful town of Sanlucar, a pretty 20-minute drive from base. Jennifer speaks English and Spanish and is very inexpensive. The salon is located in the centre of town, so you can park your car and walk around, get some tapas and do some shopping if so desire. Sanlucar is really pretty.
Jennifer Kemp Salon: p. 605-164-736
Question 2: Where can I buy fashionable clothes, and are the shops open on Sunday?
The Spanish fashion world sleeps on Sundays. However the NEX is open. Most malls open Monday-Saturday and stay open until around nine or 10:00pm, and if crowds are not your thing, shop during the middle of the day...siesta baby, it's a ghost town!
Clothes shopping in Spain is fabulous...if you get off base!
Not to say that the NEX doesn't have some occasional nice pieces, it's just that the selection is limited and to be honest, isn't really conducive to fashion life off base.
You see, the Spaniards know how to dress VERY well, whether it's a day at the beach or a night on the town, they always look fabulously fashionable.
In addition to endless boutique stores dotted throughout Rota and El Puerto, there are three popular larger shopping malls close to the base:
1: El Paseo, a 10 minute drive from base is a quaint mall crammed with a nice selection of fashion retailers including Bershka, Pull and Bear, Extraordinaire, United Colors of Benetton, and Zara among others. Carrefour, a mini Walmart-type store is there and get this, the customer service ladies buzz around the store in short shorts and roller skates!
2: The Area Sur shopping complex, a wee bit further down the road in Jerez (20 min) features an indoor mall with over fifty retailers including Primark, Mango and H&M, and an outside strip mall with larger stores including Ikea, Brecore (home/garden), Decathlon (sports), and Prenatal (an expensive Babies R Us).
3: Las Dunas on route to Sanlucar (20 min) is a beautiful modern (small) indoor mall with the same stores as Area Sur in addition to some speciality stores, although if you are going to drive 20 minutes from base, I'd pick Area Sur over Las Dunas, as you have a larger food court area and the bonus of the outdoor strip mall and Go Kart complex.
Question 3: What is life like in Spain if I've got dogs?
Dogs in Spain remind me of the sacred cows of India with some 'stupid people' exceptions, just as anywhere stateside could have. The Spaniards love their dogs and either walk them on a leash or Fido and Fifi just take themselves on walks? You think I'm kidding, but it's not uncommon to see dogs (with collars) walking around town without a care in the world. Cars stop to avoid them, people just walk on by and the dogs are happy as pigs in....
However, the laws have tightened up recently in regards to microchipping, vaccinations and licensing in that, apparently an inspector can stop you and request to see your dog's papers proving the above, and if you can not present, you have 5 days to do so.
I'm yet to see this happen and wonder if anyone else has. Who carries dog papers on them?
The Veterinary clinic on base is fabulous and the staff are always willing to talk with clients about anything pet related including PCS'ing details, vaccinations, passports, you name it, they are brilliant!
NAVSTAR Veterinary Clinic: p. 956-82-3149 (from cell phone) or x 3149 from on-base.
If you have ANY questions, no matter how trivial you think they might be...ASK! Chances are that I also thought of them and wish I'd had someone to answer back then.
Til' Part Two...