Posts Tagged ‘Cadiz’

La Luz

In Plenary on April 1, 2015 at 9:50 am

La Luz

In Plaza Mina, any little irregularity in the promenades cups a vestige of the water that a rising sun will soon suck up. Smoother surfaces are smeared with a fine film of it, in sweeps and swathes as if somebody has been at them with a mop.

It hasn’t rained. The place has been hosed down by the orange clad operatives of the municipality – nocturnals that keep it clean, locked into tit-for-tat with the diurnals that dirty it.

We stroll beneath a miscellany of species – Date Palms and Banana Trees, Bunyas, Peruvian Peppers, Yucas, Cabbage Trees, Elms and Screwpines – and above us the upper branches, of the palms especially, squawk with the raucous birdsong of monk parakeets: bright green birds that delight the eyes and terrorize their fellow avians. From top to bottom – from the airborne exotics to the wrought iron grille of the benches and the monstrous roots of a Moreton Bay fig tree – the square is testimony. A story is told in the light that filters through the potpourri of plant breeds and dapples the stone paseos, the tables on their terraces, the old kiosk. It speaks of a great, enriching influx from a New World, of plants and parakeets and money.

In the grid of the old town, away from the squares, the x of each intersection is replicated on the vertical axis and the eye as it looks down any street is presented with the same symmetry More

Las Instantáneas

In Presentation, Uncategorized on June 2, 2014 at 8:42 am

Las Instantáneas

“The man is out there again”.

She means the man who walks his dogs behind our house each day, in the morning or early afternoon. She has told me about him on a number of occasions but for whatever reason I only saw him myself for the first time a few days ago. I stand on the patio bench and peer through the grille of the upper wall. Two leads for two small dogs who trot along peaceably, pausing here and there, as dogs do, to sniff or mark a pole, and always, alongside them or just behind and keeping them company all the way with perfect, leash-free discipline, a tabby cat.


A white horse in the long grass that backs the beach. It would take a master to paint the scene above it; the hazy veil of a dirt grey horizon thins low in the sky, revealing a creamy ripple of higher cloud that expands as it arches overhead – little tufts pulled apart like the fibres of a cotton wool roll, white as the animal grazing. When I pass by again, some minutes later, the scene is gone, the clouds stage left as if dragged there by jaded stage hands. The show is over. It rains heavily the following morning and afterwards the horse isn’t even a horse, but a white yacht gleaming in a spot of sunlight against a charcoal waterline. More


In Plenary, Presentation on November 14, 2013 at 11:25 am


Cádiz at night is the 18th century through a film noir looking glass. At every intersection in the old town the antique street lamps line up in all four directions, their light rising to illuminate the upper floors of the terraced town houses. Oddly uniform facades of cluttered little ornamental balconies – most glassed in to form protruding, paned windows – recede symmetrically into the distance on all sides. It’s a vertical world – the tall houses, the litter-strewn triangle of the retreating street, the mirror image funnel of sky revealed at roof level – in the form of a slender ‘x’. You might reasonably expect Mozart to walk around the next corner. In a trilby. Hands deep in the pockets of his overcoat, a gitanes dangling from his lips.

At street level the light of the lamps falls on cobbles, on ground floor walls whose colours daylight will reveal: the characteristic shades of the city – wine, champagne and salmon pink, pale blues and the ubiquitous brown of wet sand. All of them a little washed-out, as if the residents of this sea-locked city have grown so used to seeing their handiwork bleached by the sun and salt that they now paint it that way to begin with.

Some of the street level facades are left unpainted, exposing the mottled grey and sandy colours of the stonework and giving rise to the impression that this whole city grew organically from the waters that surround it; a close look at the big blocks reveals a surprising texture – they are comprised of shells and must be made of material gleaned from the sea bed. Neptune’s own bricks – a spellbinding detail. More

La Bahía

In Presentation on October 11, 2013 at 7:26 am

La Bahía

Darkness has fallen though the night is soft and warm – we watch the world turn around us as the ferry floats slowly up the mouth of the river Guadalete and then shimmies round to dock on the riverbank at El Puerto de Santa Maria. The pin pricks of a thousand night lights are reflected vertically, the white and orange lines that fall from them interrupted gently by ripples on the surface of the water.

It’s our second time in the town; the first was this morning when we arrived by car, seething with the  arrival-rage that has become customary for us.  It’s as if we deliberately don’t write down the addresses of our hostales these days, or the phone numbers. I think it’s K’s fault but she thinks it’s mine. But it’s hers.

I think.

We can be so thoroughly put out that the first hour or two of a visit are ruined, but not today. Firstly, we more or less anticipate it these days, and laugh at ourselves sooner rather than later. Secondly, the hostal. We came on a whim at the last minute and have paid thirty-five euros for our bed, so I’m expecting a rickety one, the smell of stale tobacco and a fly carcass or two. What we get is something else entirely.

We’re early but greeted warmly by C once we get through the wrought iron gate at the street and another door into an open courtyard. He shows us straight into a room that would grace the pages of any interiors magazine you might think of. More

Seriously, Carnaval?

In Practice, Presentation on March 22, 2011 at 11:06 am

Regular readers will be aware of the tendency that Tarifeños have to string a celebration out – to squeeze every last possible drop of moisture out of any opportunity that blows in on the Levante to throw a bit of a party, to flog the living shit out of a dead horse named Celebration.

After a seemingly endless Feria in September followed by very respectable turn outs for Halloween and a couple of churchified thingamibobs I didn’t understand through November and December, a determined effort to mark each of the twelve days of Christmas and the Andalucia bank holiday in February half the town, it would seem, disappears up the road to Cadiz for Carnaval in the spring when that city goes ape shit for three weekends (and the two intervening weeks).

When do these people get any work done?

When do they sleep?

Do they sleep? More


In Presentation, Production on March 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm

It’s all about the mask.

We spend an afternoon in Cadiz, bickering. This one is my fault; I buy a cheap and simple mask for the night ahead in preference to the rather ornate and dandyish one that K had bought for me. Big mistake. Never mind that at Carnaval one is supposed to be ornate, dandyish – I have to feel my usual self-consciousness and hurt her feelings.

Or it isn’t about the mask at all (I end up wearing neither). We’re like cranky children – having been looking forward to this for so long but tired – over-tired – and both feeling the pressure: It’s Carnaval! Have a good time! Now!!

So we don’t.

Until we implement that most Spanish of solutions; the siesta – and as the sleep haze lifts a couple of hours later so do our moods. We put on some smarts and go out. More


In Uncategorized on February 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

When we wake our small window is an uninformative opaque screen of condensation. It gradually clarifies to reveal the very narrow lane where we live and the one shaft of sunlight that reaches in at that hour of the morning. The misted glass clears at the same rate as my morning head and without the aid of a coffee.

On mornings when the sunlight is there and when a craned neck reveals blue sky it seems a shame to be headed to Algeciras for work. Sad to be leaving all the prettiness behind for a day in the industrial sprawl.

I’ve heard Algeciras described as a scruffy port town, a nothing, a bore and in one instance – in a national British broadsheet no less – as a dreadful place. It is a salty port city that is pretty much as far down as you can get in Europe without leaving. Only the villages of Pelayo, El Cuartõn and the town of Tarifa are further south and then only by a few kilometres. It’s also pretty much as far down the scale as you can get in terms of attractions and, some would say, attractiveness. More


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. More


In Practice, Production on January 31, 2011 at 10:45 am

A dark, wet turn in the weather and then it brightens up again and wild spring flowers – which in fact have been emerging gradually for weeks – seem sudden in the sunlight. The colours of early spring here; green, bright yellow, dusty blue, purple.

Mostly yellow though. Yellow primrose type blossoms everywhere. They might be primroses. The truth is I wouldn´t know a primrose if I saw one, but I´m pretty sure these are primrose-like.

Spring blossoms by mid January. This sure as shit is not Ireland.

And once again it’s dark and wet and winter. This part of the year – in this part of the world – has been characterised mainly by confusion, as if Andalusia only does winter reluctantly and as a result of its reluctance f**ks the whole thing up. It’s just one big wet disorientating mess. More

Estamos Guay.

In Practice, Production on November 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

“I think we’re cool”, says K.

We’re on the way back to Tarifa, having spent a few days in our favourite; Granada. We have been winding our way through the mountainous Malaga hinterland for nearly an hour and now we are nearing the city itself, crossing the snake-like Guadalmedina numerous times as we navigate its sheer, precipitous valley. A few spots of rain hit the windscreen now and then but the weather is mostly blue sky.

We’re always sad to leave Granada. Always. There are few things, I have learnt, on which K and I agree absolutely and unequivocally (most of our decisions are reached through complex negotiation or protracted periods of mind game and emotional manipulation). This epic city is one of them. More