“When my husband got orders to the Naval base in Rota, Spain, I had never taken a Spanish class. But I had been a French minor, so I started Rosetta Stone and learned pretty quickly. We landed in Spain on the day of the Benghazi attacks. Needless to say, our arrival and adjustment period was a little rough. My husband had a sponsor on the base, but it was more for work-related questions. I felt like I didn’t have any information about getting our family with 3 children settled. You expect that things will be challenging when you move, but it was even more so while navigating roads and stores in another language.
“I started a blog of our local adventures, mostly for family and friends. When people on base asked me for travelling tips, I made the blog logistically helpful, with addresses and GPS coordinates of local restaurants, shops, and things to do. I wanted people to appreciate and enjoy Spain’s culture and history. It evolved into me writing a 200-page guidebook that I self-published on Amazon, called ‘Welcome to Rota.’ After a lot of red tape, the base started selling the paperback book at the Navy Exchange in 2014. I turned it into an eBook in 2015, and both versions are available on Amazon.
“The local Spanish Tourism office was excited by the book’s emphasis on the local economy and attractions, because it encouraged Americans to participate in the culture. I was interviewed by a major Spanish newspaper and invited to the local Town Hall—a castle built in the 1400s. There were local leaders there from the education and tourism departments. At a public forum, I read sections of my book while my Spanish friend translated. I met with the Mayor and gave her a signed copy. It was all very surreal, to go from not knowing the language to meeting the Mayor in a castle!
“My big takeaway was the importance of embracing your situation. It was hard to adjust to life overseas at first, but when I look back now, our tour in Spain was an amazing time in our lives. Not every day, and not every moment was amazing, but Rota will always have a special place in my heart. You have to learn to enjoy the experiences the military gives you. Sometimes the biggest challenges become the most treasured memories.” #humansonthehomefront #spain