In Plenary, Production on February 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

We’ve seen a lot since we got here. Our use of weekend time has been ambitious and efficient in our rush to realise the wish-list we had compiled in Ireland – in our imaginations – as we strained and waited and held our breath, hoping that it all might happen.

It’s happening – we have walked beneath the striped arcades of the Mezquita in Cordoba’s Juderia, shielded our eyes from the sun to make out snow on the Sierra Nevada as they rose over the red walls of the Alhambra, evaded peddlars in the network of arteries that is the medina of Tangier, ducked from dark shadow to the white, white light of Malaga‘s streets, ambled the boulevards of Cadiz.

In Sevilla the blue green tile work of the Alcazar has burned its detail into us along with the gridded plan of its gardens; another Alcazar in Jerez, with its patina of shabby elegance and its teeming sunday market. In Antequera we were surprised and in Vejer we weren’t – a text book pueblo blanco.

And so many bars. So many beautiful bars. I’m no more privy to life’s larger truth than the next man but I seem to have spent an awful lot of time looking for it in bars. Many people search in synagogues, churches, laboratories or bed. I’m betting on bars. Haven’t found it yet but in a tapas bar I feel like I might be getting close.

All of the above a rapid-fire succession, a sensory flood springing from…what?

 A need to break out. An unravelling series of stimuli borne along by the momentum we created as we waited, curled and coiled.

The word suggests itself; escape. To throw off whatever it is that passes for a shackle in your life, cast the die, redefine possibility. And yet, insistent though it is, the idea of escape is unsatisfactory. What does the liberated prisoner do but run away and hide – a fugitive? Someone else’s prison swapped for one’s own.

We can’t just run away forever – at some point there has to be something we’re running towards. At the end of so many departures there has to be an arrival.

Doesn’t there?

This week we don’t get out of Tarifa to see Cadiz, or out of Cadiz province to see Andalucia, or out of Andalucia to see Spain…

We just get out.

Near the port, behind the castle in a quiet corner, a dirt track leads out of town – it would have been the road to Algeciras when people still travelled on foot or pony but now it’s just a track that meanders along the coastline for a little and then twists inland over the rolling farmland that surrounds Tarifa.

It’s still public – a designated walk – and as we turn away from the sea we pass a goatherd and his little flock as they graze by the side of a whitewashed finca. As the goats graze that is – the goatherd is having a sandwich. We ascend through tall rushes along a shaded creek into more open country and higher ground.

This is pasture. The only noise the now distant sea – a view of the Mediterranean to our left and of the Atlantic to our right – the crunch of our boots on the track and the gentle but insistent peel of a cowbell as its owner chews. The day is filled with brilliant light and although Tarifa is hidden from view we have vistas, blue skies and green meadows dotted with the multicolours of early Spring. From this angle the water sparkles all the way to the Atlas mountains of Morocco.

We take some turns, reach some dead ends, find our way back to the track past more fincas and farmyards. We pass an old man who has perched himself on a grass bank at the side of the road with no other apparent purpose than to observe whoever passes by and let time do the same. He chuckles at us when we smile at him in greeting.

Further on we reach the highest point of our walk and stop for our own sandwich and a beer. We can see Tarifa from here, the old town squeezed between shining water and green hinterland . It is instantly my favourite view of the town because we earned it by coming up here. I haven’t seen it before in photos or web pages.

We had to get out of it to see it like this but as we look down on it the notion of another departure doesn’t even occur. We have a bird’s eye view of a place we are becoming embedded in. We down our beers and head back at an easy pace. This is our neighbourhood now.

For the time being, we’re not going anywhere.

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  1. I always like your posts Robin. I like your writing style. I note that we both have written for literary traveler and it shows in your style. I’m a it tired of all these lists and how to’s which are popping up everywhere. What you do I call travel WRITING. Next post soon, please.

  2. What a beautifully written post! I agree with Inka – I love your writing style.

    And I’m with you on the bars. I’m fairly certain that life’s larger truth is hiding somewhere between the tapas, the cañas and the Spanish grandpas perched on barstools. There’s just something magical about the consistent charm of a tapas bar.

  3. Never been to Spain but with you all the way on the bars. They’re special places.
    Glad you’re settled. We took off to all sorts of places when we first came to Turkey. We’re happy Fethiye is home now and when we do go off elsewhere, Fethiye’s a great place to come home to.

  4. Well done Robin – I enjoyed your day out! But do you really think you need to know your point of arrival – isn’t the journey more important?!

  5. I feel like I walked alongside you it was so beautifully written.
    We cant wait to experience this special little place, Tarifa.

  6. As others have said, I always love your posts. You have such an engaging style and it shows again in this article. I can see why that place is favorite view — beautiful.

  7. Thanks Cathy that means a lot!

  8. I’ve stopped worrying about the arrival as well, the best moments are the in betweens.

  9. You’ve just described my perfect day out, I love just walking and exploring your neighborhood.

  10. Can’t agree more with you on the bars! Glad to know we aren’t the only ones seeking salvation hanging out in them. At least my billiards game is improving!

  11. All I can say is that your prose flows. I like your new favorite view.

  12. I love your new neighbourhood. I love your new favourite view.
    There is something peaceful and fulfilling about feeling settled for a while, isn’t there? I love the feeling of exploring a new “home”.

  13. Thanks again for reading 🙂
    I know what you mean about the fulfilling feeling, some kind of satisfaction that comes from the first feeling of connection…

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