Hola Tarifa

In Practice on September 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Hola Tarifa

We’ve spoken about to-do lists already here at There are worse places to work your way through one than Tarifa in the province of Cadiz. The more attentive amongst you will have had a glimpse of our new home town by now at the photoblog. The rest of you, and you know who you are, may want to take a look now and update yourselves.

Updated? Ok.

The first week has been one long to-do list. I’m talking bureaucracy. I’m talking registration, photocopies of this, photocopies of that, pay here, you’re in the wrong place and so on; I’m talking early, early mornings and bus rides, taking a ticket, standing in line and waiting your turn. No, not that line. That line.

Everywhere I have been this week I have brought my fledgling language barrier with me, wreaking havoc. It’s like being in charge of a Great Dane with attention deficit disorder. So far though, the dreaded Spanish bureaucrats have been a pleasure to deal with, cordial and efficient. There goes another stereotype. Perhaps it’s the expats these people have to deal with that are the problem.

Producing this language is not the same as comprehending it. I’m bad at both. The Spanish I had prepared is falling out of my mouth in idiotic little fragments, half remembered, each inflected upwards as if I’m actually asking a question every time my lips move (almost true, in fact).Los Lances

I think they call it whimpering.

The first afternoon here was disorientating. It sweltered and blew with one of Tarifa’s infamous winds. Was it the Poniente or the Levante? How would I know; I said disorientating, remember? Later I had it explained to me by a gentleman I accosted in the street – the Levante comes from the east, the Poniente from the west.

Summer beach boys and girls were blissing out in the late afternoon on cushions in the hostel. They had been baking all day and marinading in salt water. Now it was aftersun, music and beer along with anticipations of the night ahead. No doubt there would be nubile dancing of some sort. And too many mojitos, or caips, or whatever it is this season. Get-togethers on the beach and overblown insights shared…

It feels strange not to be on holiday amongst all these holiday makers. The sooner I arrange an apartment the better. There are bikinis everywhere. There are men twice as tall as me and ten times as tanned. A hundred times. They all seem so at ease with life, taking it all as it comes. They’re young though – they’ll learn. In the meantime let them enjoy their tans; the pretty, vacuous things.

The tourist season has reached tipping point in Tarifa and as September marches on numbers will dwindle. Many of the chic boutiques and trendy chillout joints will close for the whole winter. I have been warned, a thousand times, that Tarifa is quiet over the cooler months. All that is left apparently are the locals and their tapas bars, cervecerias and little restaurants. It can’t come soon enough for me. Nor can K. I may have found us a little place to hole up with the lagomorph in the old part of town.

I think they call it “paz”

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  1. Hey Robin, I hope the choas of your first days in Spain have settled down and you can start enjoying the place without the lines, queues, more lines and more queues. Know the feelings! But it is so nice once it is over and everything is sorted and the exploration begins!

  2. Yes I’m looking forward to that! I have, say 65% of the bureaucracy done and it will be roughly a month till K arrives. Then the adventure really begins! I’ve already had a taste of the excitement Spain can offer – more on that in the next post!

  3. […] a little excitement I suppose but not as much as I might have expected. In the three years I’ve lived in Spain there has never been a fire as substantial as this between Algeciras and Tarifa, but up on the […]

  4. […] and plazuelas, the old town houses, the ceramic facades and the renaissance church – long before my physical arrival. The very first time I laid eyes on the Puerta de Jerez (the mudejar archway that is the old […]

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