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Gibraltar Strait – The early days

May 23, 2011

After some traveling snafus, we all arrived into Jerez de la Frontera.  Elizabeth, my friend and crew person, and I arrived on Saturday and proceeded to test the roundabouts as we navigated and re-navigated and navigated again to the wonderful Casa McCallion to our cozy little apartment.  Then it was off to the grocery store.  I love going to grocery stores while in different countries.  It really does give you a sense of the culture.  Plus what a fun way to figure out how things work.  There was a binful of live snails in the seafood department all sliming their ways around. Of course I took a photo with plans to come back another day for a video. 

Then there was the wine section.  Seriously why have I not known that in Spain you can get a good bottle of wine for under 2 euros.  My brother-in-law has been holding out on some good Spain secrets.  Elizabeth and I couldn't believe the wine price so we tentatively bought one for 1.64 euros and very low hopes.  At dinner, the wine proved fantastic while our knowledge of local cook tops was sorely lacking.  We went about our normal cooking routine and decided on chicken, salad, bread, olives and roasted peppers.  We were pretty proud of ourselves as we sat on the terrace enjoying the sun and the view over the Strait of Gibraltar.  Oh yes, Casa McCallion has a direct open view of the strait.   A view that is both nerve racking and calming at the same time.  As we were finishing our last bites of chicken, Elizabeth heard a noise from the kitchen something like a crack.  Looking at me she asked "Did you hear that?"  Me "I'm sure it is nothing."  Elizabeth – "you sure."  Me – "No".  Elizabeth's curiosity got the better of her and she headed to the kitchen.  Shortly thereafter I heard her talking and I assumed it was to herself.  I wandered in and there stood Elizabeth holding the leftovers from the stove staring at the shattered glass that was now all over the top of the stove.  HOLY CRUD! was my immediate thought quickly followed by…how the heck am I going to pay for a new stove?

We began the slow methodical process of cleaning the shattered tempered glass from the stove trying to be careful that every move created more shards to be removed.  In the process of cleanup, it dawned on me what we had done.  The tempered glass covering the gas burners?  That was the protective covering to create more counter space when the stove wasn't in use.  Prior to actually turning on the stove, you are supposed to lift up the glass top.  Minor overlooked detail on our part, we instead didn't think of this as a flip up cover and thought it was a glass cooktop.  Surprisingly tempered glass doesn't like to be cooked on…who knew???

After cleaning up most of the mess, I cowardly sent Elizabeth down to inform our patrons that we had broken their stove.  The proprietess informed us that there was no way for the gas to turn on if the glass top was down.  Elizabeth assured her that this was in fact very possible and we had done it.  They came up and surveyed the damage.  I personnally think that they were in shock, as I was heading into as well.  They were glad that they had told them and we are now in the process of determining a path forward. 

Needless to say, the tempered glass shattering helped to keep us from falling asleep too early and helped to get over jetlag.  I recommend to anyone as a jetlag remedy is to get your adrenaline pumping towards early evening and create some minor disaster that takes an hour or two to clean up.  This should keep you right on track in solving any jet lag problems as well as any questions about the souveniers that you are going to purchase.  I hope my friends and family back home love the new stovetop that I bought them that will be staying in Tarifa Spain.  It really is lovely.  (Note:  Of course we took pictures of the masterpiece of disaster.)

With day 1 in Spain securely in the bag, Elizabeth and I headed into day 2.  Today we would be traveling back to Jerez de la Frontera to pick up Billy Brown, a swimmer and friend from Kauai.  He is joining in on the fun of swimming the Strait.  He had the unfortunate travel snafus.  He too was supposed to arrive on the 21st, but flights to LAX were delayed and his whole trip was moved back a day.  While a driving trip back to Jerez wasn't high on the list, Elizabeth and I were certain after the previous days roundabout tour we could find our way back.  That we did with flying colors and quickly Billy had joined the muskateers. 

After collecting Billy, Day 2 was much like Day 1 in going to the grocery store…which was closed as it was Sunday.  Checking another grocery store…also closed. Cooking dinner on the now glasstop free stove and trying to stay awake.  So far so good.

Day 3 – we had the opportunity to meet with the swim organizer and get a sense of what day are we swimming.  With the winds gusting like mad today, it was good to know that today wasn't a good day and neither was Tuesday.  Things were looking more towards Thursday or Friday, which Elizabeth and my good friend from Ketchikan had already predicted.  I swear he is like the weather whisperer.  This was good prediction as it will allow each of us to adjust to the time change as well as test out the water, which we promptly did.  Ok not promptly we walked out to Tarifa island and received the most aggressive natural exfoliation that I've ever had in my life.  More sand than the US debt was being hurled at the speed of sound across the manmade natural walk way to Tarifa island.  Add in a little bit of water being lifted off the Mediterrean and we looked like walking sand demons, but my skin has never glowed so much!    This then seemed like a good time to head to the Atlantic side and test ourselves against the waves.  All was good.  The water temperature was very comfortable and it allowed me to work out some of my nerves.

The rest of the afternoon was spent resting and relaxing and of course enjoying the wine.  Did I mention that it was less than 2 euros for a good bottle of table red.  I mean REALLY!

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7 Responses to “Gibraltar Strait – The early days”

  1. Sarah Schneiderman says:

    You never cease to amaze me.

    May you have a really wonderful swim.

  2. Katie Schwarz says:

    Glad to hear you have all settled in, after some excitment and delays.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Spain.  Good luck on the swim, you guys will be fantastic.  I will keep watching for updates.  Love you. 

  3. Marta says:

    Spain is one of my very favorite countries.  My dream is to live in Barcelona for a spell.  Fabulous place.  Enjoy that wine!  And have a fantastic swim!

  4. Weather Whisperer says rock it on the swim and then share a bottle of the good stuff–the 4 euro wine–with E2 and Billy, eh? 
    Good luck and have fun.

  5. Lin Shaw says:

    Please ship some bottles to Singapore.  I love Spanish wine.

  6. Lisa L ( Kauai) says:

    Michelle you guys crack me up.. Love it!!! I am so excited to follow your adventure.. Red Wine.. 2 euros..  Give Billy  a hug….

  7. Leroy says:

    What date you expecting to do the swim? Any good whites, is any send my way 😛

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