Sunday, January 15, 2012


Saturday. A day of travel. Walk to the ferry. Take the ferry back to Tarifa. From there, a bus to Cadiz and finally a train to Jerez de la Frontera.

A time to allow for memories to take shape. For instance, in leaving Tanger, as we walk through the very quiet morning streets and alleys, I take note of the cats of Tanger. Alley cats. They get lost in the crowds that fill the streets later in the day. But now, they’re prominent.


I have to think, too,  that the image of men in cafés will remain a fixed one.

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Perhaps women would find no pleasure in sitting in smoke filled places and yet their absence there is, to me, memorable.

Tanger images. Of turquoise taxis. Of a medina sitting on a hill, but really on several hills, as the alleys go up and down and then up again.


The ferry ride. This is the smoothest set of waters I’m ever likely to see here, on the Straits that separate Europe from Africa, the Atlantic from the Mediterranean.


So, is there no wind in Tarifa? As we pull into the old familiar port, everything appears very calm. Here's the lighthouse at the tip of the causeway. Atlantic there, Mediterranean here.


And now we are almost at the ferry port...

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...okay, we're docked. We step out.  The fishing boats, the fortified walls, the cluster of shore-front houses...


Ah, but there is wind. A little lighter than before, but it requires that I pull back my hair unless I want to work out the tangles later.


But, the people of Tarifa are used to it. They go about their business, despite the gusts and breezes.


We walk along the beach, but not for long. An hour maybe. We have our packs and they seem a tad heavier. Or maybe that it's carrying them on our backs on sandy shores of the Atlantic that makes them appear more of a burden. One should be free to romp on a beach. Like this guy.



Still, even for us slow pokes with the packs and bags, it's just so beautiful here! The colors -- unforgettable colors!


Will I remember that looking toward Africa, I saw the rain cloud pass by and what with the gusts of wind and cloud, a mini tornado formed?


The rain never touched Tarifa.

We return to sit at our favorite café and I order a salad and I remember the very first such salad that I had in Granada (and many since then). They’re all the same. And they’re all delicious.

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People watching here. A handful of girls sit at a table, practicing the art of café life. I take note. It's hard not to make comparisons.


And now it’s time to leave – we have a 14:45 bus to catch. So, a final glance at the entrance to the old quarter...


... and we return to the bus station, where a trio is also waiting. I note the heels again and I note that these women all have long hair and none of it is tied back against the wind.

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The bus ride is 80 minutes. Time to think. About how as I get older, my memory is more fickle. For instance, somewhere in Granada, I lost 100 Euros. I have no idea how it happened. I zip up all purses and guard against theft in any number of ways. It must have dropped out as I was pulling out coins. But I just do not remember. Perhaps it's not a matter of memory, but rather carelessness. But here’s a true memory issue: in Ronda, I left behind, at the hotel, my cosmetics case. Amazing how little one needs one’s 'cosmetics' – I’ve managed fine without them. Still, I now know that I cannot rush to post something and scoot out the door at the last minute. In decades of travel, this is the first time that I left behind something that large and that obvious.

We pull into Cadiz. Pronounced variously. It’s beautiful enough (this, gleaned from our walk through part of the old town, but again, encumbered with packs, so it hadn’t the value of a real stroll) that we’re likely to return. So just one photo for now.

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Okay, maybe a second. We were there for an hour after all.

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It’s close to Jerez de la Frontera – our final Andalusian destination. You hop on a commuter train there (and back). We’re now heading to Jerez, the two passengers here are on a train heading back to Cadiz.


I’ll well remember the train rides – they were all 100% wonderful.

In Jerez, we arrive at our hotel, the beautiful Casagrande, only to find it locked. We ring the bell -- nothing. We walk to a local café, ask about it, but no one knows. Shrugs. We go back, ring again. I’ll probably forget that it took a half hour’s effort to finally get someone to answer the door. (They’d been on the rooftop, repotting plants and they didn’t hear the door.)

But I’ll remember the grand room with windows on thee sides.


(And maybe even the price – 85 Euros with a full, cooked breakfast included.)

We ask for dinner recommendations – not touristy please. Something local, simple. The hotel person laughs. There’s nothing touristy about any of the places. Jerez is not a tourist destination!

We eat at La Cruz Blanca – a terrific place with the best wild mushroom salad ever. Will I remember it? Maybe, maybe not. But I’ll remember that when we ordered shrimp with garlic, we got these, the ever familiar pel pels.

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And I'll probably remember that in every place on this trip we've gone into a bakery for a small handful of cookies. Often with nuts or pine nuts, like these.


Funny how some things stay in your head. And others do not.