Airports and airplanes make great places to sit and write… (airplane mode ON of course).
I’m already flying back from my mini Andalusian adventure where I met my wonderful sister-from-another-mister Caroline. We met in 2009 as colleagues and continue now as friends, confidantes and occasional wake-up calls 🧐
I was met at Jerez airport and along with her two canine pals, Pixie and Canela (or Big Ears and Cleopatra) we went for lunch in the city. Still unsure of my new gluten-free world and even more unsure of the Spanish patience for my odd stomach-complicated diet I was a little worried of having difficulty finding appropriate grub. However, it was pretty easy – the wonderful part of it is all the options and variety of tapas and rationes you can actually choose which meant that I just avoided the stuff I couldn’t eat but had fish, meat and all the vegetable dishes I wanted to browse from. Gracias.
The weekend consisted of daytime wanderings and evening socializing. Saturday was spent with several hours relaxing, walking and chatting on the beach whereas Sunday was about getting out to the local Sierra and getting a little nature time with the two peritos.
This weekend also happened to be Carnival, we had a little walk in the town centre of El Puerto de Santa Maria on Saturday, wanting to experience the atmosphere of a fiesta a little bit. Once there, we both quickly remembered that as curious as we are – our sensitivity and introversion caused us to literally flee from the crowds. We went, we saw, we certainly didn’t conquer but we did embrace our nature and agree that keeping to the outskirts of all the fun fun fun was just as nice.
The town was full of people, and I mean full. In general, crowds are quite normal in the evenings in a Spanish town, add an annual celebratory event and boom – it’s a friggin’ stampede of music, voices, colour, playing children, laughing and chatting adults, all ages were there and even the elderly in wheelchairs were quite happy joining in the fun whilst the frisky teenagers were sneaking alcohol-tainted sodas into the streets. Some less subtle than others.
Everyone dresses up, toddlers to great-grandparents – and there’s a theme. There must be a theme, it’s quite typical. We noted that in Spain when you dress-up it is usually a group effort, unlike in the UK or other countries where you secretly hope that there better not be anyone dressed like you!
I’ve spent a lot of my adult life in Spain, a couple of years in the north, Logroño, where my first adulthood adventures began, a few months during my teaching diploma in Seville and a few more months in the south east teaching whilst waiting for my Canadian Visa.
I see Spain as a big part of my life, my journey, i’ve had good times and bad. I’ve loved it and hated it, accepted it as it is and probably in some way tried to change it. Like with any relationship 😉
Obviously, we do not need to discuss the weather, the weather is wonderful here. If you lack vitamin D, come to Spain. The sun is a huge part of your life.
The landscape and the architecture is incredible, although not necessarily famous for its mountains (a little over-shadowed by all the beautiful playas) I’ve read that it is the most mountainous country in Europe (or one of anyhow). I love the rolling hills, the cacti in the south, the black bull you see as you drive along highways and the horizons that make you feel you’re in some sort of western.
As for the pueblos, well, just wonderful. They all look like they’ve been especially designed by some famous architect yet they so natural just fall into place. White walls, pottery all over the place with flowers spilling out, simple yet decorative cafes overlooking views for which you’d pay a ton of money to sit and have a café con lèche or caña con límon but only leave just over a euro to cover the price.
We eat out all the time, it’s so cheap and living outside is just what you do. J’adore.
Spain also has its negatives, as with everywhere, but that’s not what I’m here to write about (and it’s all by opinion anyhow pfffft). Don’t expect service with a smile, but do expect an authentic conversation about your dog or advice for the local event ☺️ great! I like that there’s very little tipping culture, it means you get genuine service and interaction. But again, this is just my opinion.
Having spent two years in Canada and returning to Spain this time, the main thing I notice is the culture of enjoying your time. Not being in a rush, taking in the day and just ‘being’. There is less pressure on ‘goals’ to achieve and for a short time in a long time, I was able to relax in Spain and again, just ‘be’.
An inspiring and common phrase of the weekend when trying to set a plan “let’s just make the most of the sun”. YES.
On Sunday evening, I followed my friend, who followed her partner who was participating in and following the carnival, this time, in Puerto Reàl. More crowds, more music, more noise, more colour, balloons, tapas, cañas, parade, singing, jokes, laughter – even the local police were setting off their sirens to the music of the parade #onlyinspain.
A little more prepared, we looked for ear plugs this time (unsuccessfully) but nevermind – to the parade! I was so impressed by the group we were there to support! For 21 years they have created songs, poetry and performances in the name of carnival. Amazing. And they were good, really good. This year they were gynecologists, the lyrics were funny, intelligent, political and a little naughty, the amount of effort and detail put in was enough to make anyone smile. One had a guitar and the rest sang. And the music was catchy! Crowds would gather round and quite quickly, began singing along to the chorus. It felt great to be a part of something just so generally cool.
I love moments of loving humanity like that. We need more of those.
It was wonderful to see my friend, so far, we’ve managed to stay in each other’s lives even with our geographical distance. When you’ve got a good one, never let them go! The really great ones aren’t easy to find, believe me. They naturally make you a better person and at the same time, they accept you for who you are. Just wonderful.
I leave Andalucía feeling a warmth in my heart and even with a little more music in my soul 😍