Arechiga, with an accent on the e

Tonight I am due to eat of the tapas and drink of the wine in a local Basque eatery with my friend El. (El is short for Elenore, but it really trips the folks up here since it means “him” in the Espanol.) I just wanted to mention to ya’ll that my married name, Arechiga, is Basque. Now, I don’t believe the family was part of the Basque terrorist organization, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or ETA (Basque for “Basque Homeland and Freedom”), but even if they were well, that’s all over now as the emigrated to Mexico three generations ago then crossed the border illegally to have their anchor babies. And one of those anchor babies would be my father in law. Believe me, there was much name calling fun had with John-Mark and his brothers regarding their family’s historical illegal status and quasi Mexican heritage. In fact, I recall one time telling my nephew, who was three and a half at the time, to go call his father a term that involves a popular gastronimic, and delicious, legume. He did, and it was funny.

Anyhow, there are many Basque restaurants around here, being not too far from the Basque region, and also because they have delicious food. And I feel I must point out the Basque-ness of these restaurants to those all those surrounding me who might not be aware of this. Because it’s kind of cool. Not too many Basque people around here. But there is ME – and while not of that heritage by blood, its still something I feel a connection with. Therefore, my name is deserving of  a medal. Or maybe just a drink. Which is where I’m off to right now. See how that came full circle?

basque tapas - serve yourself

basque tapas (or pintxos in the Basque language) = DEE-licious

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Jerez, the finale

We last left off in this little story at the end of the second test day in Jerez, which incedentally was Thanksgiving Day in America.

I took a half hour walk from my freezing hotel to the swanky hotel that my Dorna friends were staying at. Of course, halfway through I had to stop off and fortify myself with some nutritious wine and olives, both of which are most excellent in the Southern Spain region. Thus, I arrived at the hotel happier and warmer.

We went down the road to an old traditional Andalusian restaurant, complete with awesome antique bar, chummy waiters and a table full of Japanese MotoGP folk. (Evidently they always dine together.) Our table consisted of yours truly and 5 Spanish camera dudes. We ate meat and many, many fried things, including the plate of whole fried fishes that was my main T-day dinner course. They were surprisingly tasty and I would eat them again. Nothing says Thanksgiving like battered fried fish with skeletons intact. Supplemented with a couple gin and tonics, of course.

The bar/wait staff recognized one of the Japanese at the other table as Yuki Takahash, a former 250 rider now signed to the Scot Honda team. I believe they got his autograph.

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From there, we moved across the street to a bar. Being Thursday in a relatively small town, I expected a mellow-ish evening. That´s where I was wrong. The place was large, packed to the gills with dolled up locals (normal for the area I hear) and featured a local band playing Spanish music, including traditional Xmas songs that the entire place sang along to.

Drinks were cheap and we ran into an Austrian based GP journalist (oooh sorry, cant remember his name!!) who insisted on supplying everyone with some version of a vodka margarita, many, many times over.

nameless journo and me

nameless journo and me

Around 2:30am we lost a soldier or two, but friends, the night did not end there.

the drinking, it continuecd

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I am glad I had my camera, I might have forgotten such moments as these.

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When this place shut down after 3 something AM, we headed over to a nightclub. Again, packed. Everyone quite well dressed and the men all sported stylish hair-do´s. Don’t know why, but this is what I remember. That, and we invented some incredibly hip dances, such as “pitching hay”, “squint your face up with feeling”, and my personal favorite, “robot goes crazy”. We left at 5am, and the place was still packed.

The next I flew back to Barcelona. Jorge Lorenzo was in line behind me for my flight along with his…manservant or whatever, who is now his press officer employed by Yamaha. A new post for him, as last year I think he was just plain manservant. (Manservant helped me into the Redbull party at Laguna, since I had worked in Jorges garage scanning tires there.  We have spoken a few times, and did so at the test as well. )

That was the test for me. Not sure if I will attend the 125/250 test in January in Valencia unless I have a real meeting set up.  I did send out my CV (or had it sent by others) to several teams and companies.  So for now, I wait. And continue to enjoy my crazy weekends here in Spain. I´m responsible like that.

intermission

Before I continue with the long overdue Jerez report, can I just tell you, internet, that I will be heading to Californa for the Christian ripoff of the Pagan Yule holiday, otherwise know as Christmas or as I lovingly refer to it, Xmas.

I’ll go to my dads house first in Simi valley. There I will drink of the Fresca and eateth of cottage cheese because, internet, I miss these things more than you could have possibly predicted. And I will eat and drink in the company of both my dogs. And then I will go to San Diego with said dogs in tow, and crawl under my house and situate the sump pump, since it evidently has been raining in Southern California, which, aside from people driving with one foot firmly on the brake, it   means my house is sitting in a small pond which must be drained out from under it. And that, internet, is why they don’t make homes with crawlspaces anymore.

Jerez MotoGP test

Thanks to the MotoGP technical director, Mike Webb I was able to attend the last Moto GP test of 2008, held in Jerez de la Frontera, in Southern Spain.  The track is just outside the town, close enough I could take a taxi from my hotel and it cost around 12-13 Euro. There is also a big roadracing statue of point out of town straight toward the race track, which I cannot find a photo of anywhere. (Can someone help me out?)

The weather was unseasonably freezing for the time of year, and accordingly I was entirely unprepared. Day one was so cold I went a bought a jacket the next morning. My contact was Ricky, the tech directors assistant. He was incredibly sick and outside of picking me up at the gate, he couldn’t do much of anything other than writhe in pain in his chair.  I did see a few people I knew but the atmosphere was pretty somber, as mechanics and other staff alike were unsure of their jobs for next year. Only Yamaha, Ducati and Honda were at this test while the other manufacturers were at Phillip Island, so not only did everyone have mopey faces, the paddock was kind of sparse.  So yeah, day one at the track was a downer.

Fortunately my friend Gerard from Dorna was there and we planned to meet up after he was finished at the track for drinks and some food. I got started early and walked into a tiny bar for some wine – wine from Andalucia is amazing. The second I ordered I was introduced to the other few people in the bar and had a lively conversation with in my limited Spanish. Very friendly locals though the dialect (accent? manner of speaking?) is akin to listening to someone with a mouth full of cotton leaving off the second half of every third word, along with using an incredible number of words to say essentially nothing. But it’s charming, don’t get me wrong.

I waited outside in the rain for Gerard in his rental car trying to maneuver the ancient streets of downtown. He ended up working on a helmet device at the track until 9pm. By the time he found me we were pretty hungry, though I had had a few tiny plates of tapas that are thrown at you free in this region whenever you buy a drink. We found a cool little restaurant with traditional food (served with  a nice helping of cigarette smoke as is the case round these parts) I had some more tapas type plates, and Gerard had what he called “blood”. Which was…blood. Congealed into a sausage type thing. MMMM–MMMM!

tasty congealed blood.

tasty congealed blood.

Next day was sunny and while it was still cold, the riders were happier and everyone seemed to be in a better mood.  Ricky was better and was up and about.

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Ricky, not sick.

Nicky Hayden was loving the Ducati on the second day. It was exciting to watch him at the top of the times all day. It was also Thanksgiving day in the US.  Altogether now- Team Amercia, f*** yeah!

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He had a American flag livery, which was awesome. I tried to take some video from the roof of the garages but while it was impressive in person, my camera didn’t do any justice to Nick. So here is a photo that I did not take of his livery:

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Made me all gushy proud to be ‘Merican. Nicks teammate Stoner was there, keeping a low profile after surgery on with hand, helping Nick with setup and the bike. I was in the Ducati garage at one point, but I’m not about to go taking photos of the riders or anyone at a test like this where there aren’t any fans per se. And yet…everyone there is kind of a fan. Pedrosa was posing in the sunset for some PR photos, and the VIPs walking by all stopped to take his photo with their phones or cameras as well.

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I got my photo taken as well, because me?  I are famous.  The rest of the day I met a few new people and chatted with some of the mechanics I am getting to know, but otherwise it wasn’t too productive for me to be there. The whole trip overall didn’t open any doors for me, but  it WAS fun. The fun started that evening of the second day, after everyone was done with work. Let me tell you now, the next day was full of ouch. So much ouch.

To be continued…

Thanksgiving dinner, 2008

Thanksgiving dinner, 2008