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Christmas in Cadiz. Jerez, and Andalucia

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The Province of Cadiz

The province of Cadiz is a great place to live. Forget the east coast with its motorways and grid-locked traffic, and hoards of foreigners. Keep going till you reach the south-west parts of the country. Things are different here.

Map of the province of Cadiz

I have always had a soft spot for Spain as I spent rather a lot of my teenage years in Barcelona, and wandering around the country way back.

Initially, Spain itself was a strange place, and I found it intriguing. When I was a kid there was a phrase about the place: Africa begins at the Pyrenees.
It was a country that had been damaged (apparently permanently) by the Roman Church, and the place was swamped in repression and poverty.

Over the years I kept going back, and lived through two revolutions. The first started in 1964. The slogan then was: “We have had twenty-five years of peace. Now we will have twenty-five years of prosperity.”

The place started importing white goods from the US, tourists from Scandinavia, and pop music from The Spanish Beatles, otherwise known as Los Brincos, and Spain started to smile.

The second revolution happened almost imperceptibly, but it crept in towards the end of that second twenty-five year period when the word “capitalista” ceased to be a rude word, and it seemed as though all Spain had become capitalist.
However, something else was going on, and that was the almost imperceptible way in which the province of Cadiz slid slightly away from all of this to put their own historical stamp on the modern world.

Cadiz came into the twentieth century, but instead of jettisoning so much of the past, as the rest of the country did, the province brought a whole raft of cultural traditions with them into the new world. And those traditions are still strong today. Once you head down to Jerez the world changes.

If you watch the local tv station you will either delight in the almost non-stop flamenco and cante jondo, or despair at the rest of the absolutely frightful schedule. This part of the world has managed to keep its identity without needing to sacrifice any of the modern comforts and ways of life. Cadiz has charm, history, modernity, style and panache.

Let’s have a look around.

I spent part of the winter there. I have always harboured a desire to retire back home, and although these days my grasp of Spanish is rotting away, I still feel more Spanish than anything else, and I’d like to take you with me back there for a few moments.

Let’s start with the journey. Since I live mostly in the Algarve I have to go via Sevilla to reach Cadiz. I have tried to cut the corner and drive through the marshes of the Guadalquivir, but after Matalascanas one comes to a halt. I did try it from the other direction as well, but the road starts out well enough, following a dyke, but then you go up a small rise and the road simply stops. These wetlands stay protected. I guess that’s nice, although it does mean I have to cope with the Race Track every time I hit Sevilla.

If you’ve been there, you’ll know what I mean. The western and southern parts of the ring road consist of a tangle of three lane speedway tracks, and you really have to keep your wits about you not to end up going the wrong way. Then, south of Tres Hermanas the world goes rather empty and flat, until you almost reach Jerez. But when you do, you enter a whole new world. I guess you could miss most of it, but let’s slow down, and take it easy. There’s a lot to see, and a lot to do once you reach that strange land known as the province of Cadiz.

Next week we’ll start to explore the northern frontier city which is the home of Sherry, and so much more. I hope you’ll join me.

Part Two >>>>>

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