Tarifa

I have successfully made it to Tarifa, the southern most tip of Spain.  The bus trip was easy through rolling rural countryside and dropped us off at a shipping port – which is what Algericas turns out to be.  But there was a little line of taxis there and I hopped in one and went on to Tarifa.

Was unprepared for the countryside to be so ‘mountainous’, and for how close Africa is,  and what the Gibralter strait looks like. It is  a gap between two small mountains filled with sea.  It is “the gateway to the Mediterranean” and all the tankers chug through it. Hard to understand how the sea got through there to create “the gateway”, and why there is a gateway in only that one spot. Anyhow, here is a photo of “the gateway” (taken from boat to Tangiers, see next email). On the left is Europe, and on the right is Africa. The blobs in the middle are huge ships.

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Interesting horse news: I have seen loads and loads and loads of horses in the countryside around here, (as opposed to 2 horses in the whole of Jerez). Just now I have seen someone cantering along the beach on a plump bay horse with a little dog scampering alongside. And – there is a horse statue in the entrance to the hotel restaurant; (which is incongruous, because the rest of the hotel is decorated in a Mexican / Buddhist theme).

So – as you come through the hills towards Tarifa you can see the windsurfers – or at least from far off you can see their sails. But I can see why the gentrified folk of Jerez sniff at the idea of going to Tarifa. There is nothing here unless you are a sunnie coast girl craving salt; or a windsurfer. The other people at the hotel seem to be foreign travellers and windsurfers.

I love it. Could happily waste a few days here. Beautiful wild windswept beach that goes for miles and miles – proper sand, snaking along the beach in the wind, proper salty fresh air, BLUE water, of all the proper shades of BLUE. Blue in the sky, lots of sun, shells and beach stones, empty horizon, beach plants, foam.  You could be walking along a beach at home.

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But not so – it is F—-reezing!!!!

Beach Bunny is having a wardrobe crisis.

She thought Tarifa was near the equator, and seeing photos of beaches that looked like ours, threw in all the usual beach things.  Yesterday, for the first walk along the beach, Bunny wore three layers of clothing.  This morning , Bunny wore the same plus a furry jacket.

I have this morning realised that the equator is in Africa somewhere, so no need to point that out; thank you.  I have wasted valuable suitcase space on beach things, and now have to ration the clothes I planned to wear in England, and spend some euros on laundry.

Never mind. It is glorious here.

So good to walk on and on and on for as long as you like on the spongy sand, with water lapping around ankles – eagles floating about – crystal clear skies – a proper healthy looking sea, and sleepy mountains – and you can see Tangiers (Africa) on the other side of the water. I feel grounded and happy. My aussie thongs (flip flops) blend in well here. Stuff the Jerez-ians.

But the WIND. my god. Where does it come from? I suppose the atlantic. It sliced straight through all the clothing, nearly blew my earrings out (solid silver) and hurt my ear drums so BADLY that they were still aching this morning. Poor ears. Never thought I would have to worry about them – of all things. I need some ear muffs ……

Now some answers to questions and comments. No need to read on unless you sent me some. If I have forgotten a question I am really very sorry, I mean I am obviously a bit dumb because i don’t know where the equator is, so please send them again. And also, I am really so enjoying all your emails and comments – they are great!  So see below.

No – I did not realise that there was a particularly famous sherry in Jerez and I am annoyed about that as may as well have drunk that for breakfast instead of beer!  I will see if they sell some in Cordoba, which is where I head to next.  I am currently drinking a glass of sherry which they assure me is from Jerez and they showed me the bottle which does say Jerez (and other things in spanish) – but the sherry is usual colour sherry, not white – so stuffed if I know.

No – I am not ‘out-smarting’ the local fashionistas and have no prospect of doing so, even if I can acquire some ear muffs. I learned that if you are to travel alone you need to be able to manouver your suitcase all by yourself, anywhere, at any time, in and out of buses and trains, up and down stairs, and for hours along pavements; and very quickly if necessary. Hence I travel with a small suitcase and only the bare essentials. So I cannot stand alongside these splendid spanish women. But in honour of my beautiful friends I shall refrain from telling people my nationality so that noone assumes that all Aussie girls are dags who thought they were at the equator.

Seems to have been definately a prankster, and not a mentally ill person – apparently girls travelling in spain are often treated to a welcoming ‘flash’ – considered cultural (by the local males at least). and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I don’t have a photo of the flasher!

Yes – I took photos of the carousel. And yes – I secretly wanted to go on it – and I lurked about for awhile with some gelati deciding whether or not to do so.  Didn’t in the end; I was too shy. It has a sign, it is from about 1900 or so. Very old. It is called “Carousel Ortega”. If I get old and get dementia you may find me on a carousel somewhere with a bucket of gelati.

No – I have not been ‘landed on’ by a windsurfer

It is “Jerez de la Frontera” not the other Jerez (which I didn’t know existed!)

No – I have not noticed any obvious signs of economic hardship and poverty – well at least not compared to India and Thailand and they are meant to be tiger economies aren’t they? Here people seem to live simply, but elegantly, and cheerfully – except for the women who seem a bit stern, but given local male customs I can now understand why the women aren’t amused.

I am hoping to get out and about and see some of Tarifa tomorrow – and also there is a whale watching tour tomorrow (weather permitting) there are apparently 8 types of whales and dolphins that live here where the waters of the Mediterranean converge with the waters of the Atlantic.

Yes – I have started to pick up some spanish – i can say uno – dos – manyana – salidas – gracias – sherry – how much euros – taxi – and cafe

The mystery deepens about Jacarandas – Different sources reveal that they are native to the Americas, also native to Japan, and also native to Africa. And clearly also native to Australia! Just as well they are so beautiful. Today in Tangiers (see next email) they had heaps of gum trees but no jacarandas. The secret life and times of these trees!

No – I have not met any bullfighters, and if I did meet one – no – I could not bring him home in my suitcase.  See above re: description of my suitcase.

I seem to be out-of-synch with spanish meal times – must be jet lag. For instance the kitchen here doesnt fire up until 8pm, and before that you can only order packets of chips. I have been dead to the world by about 7pm each night and so I have missed an evening meal for a few nights in a row. Breakfast does not start here till 8am. When I charged through the door this morning at 7.56am I was the only one there and had the watermelon all to myself. Clearly it is not cool to have breakfast at 8. But this is a long winded answer to all of the questions about Spanish food. Everyone knows how much I adore food – so this situation is very painful – this evening I have sworn to keep my eyes open long to get something decent into my stomach.

 

22 May 2012, Tarifa, Spain

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