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.
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
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
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
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