Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Week, Continued

Sunday, 21 December:


Today’s Opponents

The big deal of the day was the Cobra Juniors (1-0) second game of the season, a rematch against the Granada Lions (0-1) who the Cobras had handled quite easily in Granada a few weeks ago.

But that was then . . .

Our Pristine Home Field

Ample Seating for Today’s Crowd
I’m Sure

This game would give me a good chance to observe just where our Juniors were in terms of their fundamentals and nine man American football schemes.

Line Warm-Up, Pad Under Pad

Granada showed up with 17 players while the hometown Cobras could only muster a dozen uniformed warriors.

Slaughter Alley

It had been a long time since I had seen this drill where every two players get a shot at the one player trying to fight his way through the team.

Much of the pre-game warm-ups were paying attention to several of the detailed facets of the game that are hard to cover when you only workout three nights a week with usually less than 100% attendance.

Cobras’ Kickoff

In Granada,
Pink is the New Orange

 Granada’s QB was a GOOD Runner

 Murcia’s QB was a GOOD passer

 Life at the Line of Scrimmage

 Alberto Talavera on the WR Screen

The game proved to be a hard fought battle of attrition and did not resemble the first match between these two squads at all.

Granada had a nice tee too

Adapting to about a 96 yard field

The Cobras lost their best running back with a sprained ankle on the game’s first drive. With the Cobras leading by a score of 13-6 and only one second left in the half, the Lions’ QB ran a bootleg around, over and through almost every Cobra on the field for a spectacular 50+ yard TD.

At the half, one of our rookie players who was suited out for his first game ever, asked me if, when he was on defense, it was OK to tackle the Lion carrying the ball. I, of course, answered in the affirmative. He then asked if it was OK to tackle the QB if he had the ball. Again the answer was a resounding “SI!” With that cleared up, he went on to play better in the second half.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, our QB broke his wrist. We were now down to ten players for a nine man game. We did go on to score a TD on this drive to raise our lead to 19-12.

Helping Rafa sort Order out of Chaos

Now our Junior coaches were really having to scramble to hold on for dear life. Alberto Talavera, our excellent WR moved into the QB slot and played his heart out. Another RB that goes by the nickname “El Negro” (his real name is unknown to anyone in the Cobra organization it appears) really took charge of the game in the fourth quarter to lead us to a gut-wrenching 19-18 victory.

Talavera to the Rescue

 El Negro finished STRONG!!!

The Juniors showed a lot of courage on this sunny day to be sure!

Surviving Members of the Junior
Team After the Granada Game

After the game, it was on to a bar across the street from Murcia’s Estrella Levante Brewery believed to be the best beer in all of the Iberian Peninsula if you listen to the Cobras.

Which I do.


I got to meet one of the players wives at the bar who I have nicknamed ”Reina.” Rocio is her real name, as she was the only lady in a bar full of Cobra officials and players, I gave her the new sobriquet. Reina got me to try a Murcian specialty, a Marinara which I found to be a delicious anchovy tapa.

After coming home for a bit, Roberto picked me up to go to the home of Christina and Alejandro Sotomayor. Alejandro is our Junior team’s Defensive Coordinator and the Cobras’ Team President. We were going to their home to watch the Minnesota Vikings play at the home of the Miami Dolphins. Alejandro is a long-suffering Vikings fan. The Minnesota downfall with about a minute left in the game just added to Alejandro’s NFL worries. He and his wife were great hosts!

Monday, 22 December:

The first laundry day of the campaign kept me near La Hacienda most of the day. I must say that I did a spectacular job figuring out how the machine works and using the community clothesline to its maximum potential.

In the evening it was off to our Junior practice where we worked on a ton of fundamentals that I believed needed to be addressed after yesterday’s performance. The players were willing learners and practiced with great enthusiasm.

Junior Light Workout
The Day After the Granada Game

The Senior practice was sparsely attended but again the Cobras that were in the house gave a great effort tonight.

On a negative note, I was informed of no internet in La Hacienda until January making communications back home somewhat of a logistical nightmare.

My Non-Winning Lottery Ticket

I did not win the Loteria Nacional’s El Gordo today.

Tuesday, 23 December:

The first “Travel Tuesday” of the year! I was off to the seaport city of Cartagena about 50 minutes by train south of Murcia.

Along my three mile walk to the Murcia’s Del Carmen train station, I saw many interesting new sights.

Nice Name for a Business

 El Sardinero

The Sardine industry is big in these parts.

Wait, at the top, isn’t Ricardo Gil,
Tanque’s real name?

 Holy Week Penitent?

There will be more about this Easter Week tradition in Spain when we get to Cartagena.

Finally at the Murcia Train Station

 The Cartagena Train Station

 Cartagena Train Station’s Old Ticket Booth

It has been replaced by a bright, clean and efficient version in recent years.

Cartagena, population 220,000, was originally known as Mastia when it was a simple Iberian village thousands of years ago. In 223 B.C., Asdrubal led his army into the area, captured Mastia and renamed it Qart Hadasht. When the Romans took over it became known as Carthago Nova. Later when ther Muslims ruled the land, it became the independent emirate of Cartajena and was finally reconquered by the Christians in 1242.

I had about a one mile walk to Cartagena’s harbor area and its many places of interest.

KKK in Cartagena???


According to the shop keeper, there are about 80 different Penitent groups in Cartagena that take turns during each Holy Week procession dressed up in these colorful costumes that are meant to express sorrow over mankind’s sinning nature and the imminent death of Christ to redeen us all. Apparently there is fierce pride (isn’t that one of the Seven Deadly Sins?) between these groups as to which one does the best job upholding the city’s tradition each year. I have to take a trip down here in the Spring to see it first hand.

I bought a two of the small statues on the right, a white one and a green one.

The Roman Theatre

It was built to hold 6,000 spectators back in the first century B.C.

Hot Dogs in Spain

 Galician Food

I’m getting hungry.

Cartagena’s Tourist Office is
Housed in the City Hall

 Nothing says Christmas like a
HUGE Gator

My first stop upon leaving the Tourist Office was the ultra modern and interesting Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
Remains of an Ancient Ship

 Recreation of a Ship’s Cargo Space

Museo Refugio de la Guerra Civil

Next up was the Museum of the Spanish Civil War Bomb Shelters. This area was Republican stronghold during the devastating 1936-39 Civil War. As such, the city’s population had to endure constant aerial attacks from Franco’s Air Force and/or from German or Italian allies of the Generalissimo.

The Shelter that I visited was known as the Calle Gisbert Shelter, built in 1937, housed 5,500 citizens and was carved out of the hillside below the Castillo de la Concepción. It was one of about 13 such shelters scattered throughout Cartagena during the Civil War.

Cartagena Defense

 The Brave Republican Navy

Bombs Away

Drawings by a then Ten Year Old,
of his interpretation of the bombings

Once out of the Civil War Museum, I continued up the hill via, thankfully, an elevator to the Castillo de la Concepción to get a panoramic view of the city.

Nice Tower


Asdrubal, Cartagena’s Founder

The Harbor

 The former Plaza de Toros

 You just MUST have a suit of armor

 Nice Plate

I needed a Café con Leche

Once back down at sea level, I needed some sustenance to be sure before resuming my patrol of the city.

Memorial to the Spanish Military
that died defending Cuba in the
Spanish-American War

Interesting Harbor Side Sculpture

 Nice Fish Tail Too

 Cartagena’s Crest

My final stop for the day would be to the informative Naval Museum.

Nice Naval Museum Building

 Cannons Defending the Naval Museum

 Spanish Torpedo

 Love these Spanish Ships,
a Galleon perhaps

 Artistic Naval Pistol

Cool Naval Crest

And an Equally Cool Naval Flag

 Isaac Peral’s Submarine

Born in Cartagena, Peral was a fabulous pioneer in submarine engineering. This submarine was first launched in 1888 and served as the blueprint for sub’s for many, many years to come.

What is that white building?

In the form of a huge submarine, it is the headquarters of one of Cartagena’s main shipbuilding companies.

Makes sense.

I made one last tour of the harbor area of this delightful city before walking back to the train station for the ride home to Murcia.

Nice Architecture

 Cartagena’s City Hall

Wednesday, 24 December:

Nochbuena in España.

Christmas Eve dinner with family is a huge tradition in Spain and I was going to get to take part in it which was helpful as I was really missing my family at my favorite time of the year.

The morning was spent trying to buy a few more items to improve the lifestyle in La Hacienda with the help of our Cobra lineman and neighbor Roberto Durán.

No, not the boxer.

Roberto invited me over to his home to break bread at lunchtime and to meet his charming wife Immaculata Belén. After a great meal, we sat and talked about the Spanish Civil War and its legacy on today’s España for a long time.



For the traditional Cena de Nochebuena, I had been invited to the nearby home of Rosa Talavera’s brother Enrique. Once there, I met Enrique’s wife Gladys, their son Ismael, Enrique and Rosa’s mother Virginia, Gladys’ mother Carmen. Of course Rosa, Oscar and Alberto joined us as well.

Nochebuena Feast

Enrique and Gladys put on an amazing array of food for the holidays and were exceptional hosts. I felt very welcome in their nice home.


It must be noted that finally having a decent grasp on a host country’s language sure is making life easier for me.

Thursday, 25 December:

Felt a bit lonely on Christmas. I have come to like Christmas more than any other day of the year. Originally I think that it was because of the presents as a child, then as a day of great personal joy after a dark period in my personal life and now as a time to be with family especially the two grandsons.

I missed my family a lot on this day.

I opted to get out of the house for a walk and found manyb people doing a paseo.

A Paseo for People of All Ages

"I walked into a church . . ."

 The BVM

 A Manger

 The Restaurant where I ate with
Rosa and Oscar last Saturday . . .

. . . was open with a Christmas motif

 St. Andrew

I hope that Andy, Jenn and Kevin had a good Christmas in Hawaii.

Interesting Mail Box, let’s look closer . . .

 . . . Los Reyes Magos

The 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany, is the traditional date when the Three Wise Men brought the Baby Jesus their gifts. In España, Los Reyes Magos bring children gifts as well.

Two chances for parents to aid the sagging Spanish ecomomy during the holidays.

Torres JMC

When I get turned around walking through our new home base city, all I have to do is find these two towers on the horizon to find my way back to La Hacienda.

Friday, 26 December:

Café-Bar Gran Via
Closed Sundays and New Year's Day

The free wifi spot that makes this blog possible until La Hacienda gets connected to the world wide web.

The Café-Bar Gran Via is a great place to hear gravelly voiced Spanish caballeros discuss and argue about any, and just about every, thing just for the fun of it while I blog away.

Murcia’s Library

My New Library Card . . .

It was easy to get my much wanted library card that allows me access to English language books and lots of DVDs.

My first checkout was an Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mystery, Elephants Can Remember.

Now all I need is a Transportation Pass

In the evening, we had sparse attendance at the Junior practice. We had 15 players at the Senior practice.

The lack of attendance is worrisome to say the least. Hopefully things will improve after the Holidays as our first Senior game is less than a month away.

That being said, each and every Cobra that does come to practice is equipped with a good attitude, wants to learn and has a great work ethic!

Reading Is FUNdamental

The first Jack Reacher novel, loved it.

A little bit all over the place but the place was Los Angeles so I was entertained.

See you on Monday.

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