Traveling by high speed train we whizzed across Spain passing vast plains of olives, citrus plantations and cotton – I had never seen cotton growing before – and huge areas looked like balls of snow. It was a smaller plant than I imagined and I think it’s very prickly. In some areas machines were harvesting and transferring the fibre into huge trailers ready for processing. Skirting Madrid our train stopped in Seville where we changed trains onto Jerez – home of my friend and photographer for my books – Bill Nichol and Jennifer.
How exciting it was to see familiar faces on the platform – and they loved our accents…
So, we transformed ourselves into another world – in a city twice the size of Dunedin but with a small central heart. It felt odd – the streets were deserted – we had arrived during the siesta . Hannah and Georgia could walk easily with their big packs on their backs to our accommodation 5 minutes away.
Bills friend Pepe, introduced us to our apartment accommodation on the ground floor of his traditional Spanish house set around an internal courtyard.
The family lived upstairs and our eyes were popping at our space, with kitchen a bedroom each !!!! outside dining room and an upstairs roof top complete with deck chairs.
Jerez is a hub for Flamenco. I thought it was Spanish dancing!!! but I soon found out its also about the music – guitar, palm clapping ….. and singing.
By the time we went to bed we had enjoyed an amazing Tapas meal with the most divine octopus, pigs cheaks and apple, chorizo and tortilla before experiencing our first flamenco performance in a local bar.
It was jam packed., It doesn’t cost anything and while we sipped on our fino sherry we were mesmerized by the guitar player, singer and everyone clapping with the rhythm.
This was to be the first of 3 performances Bill and Jen arranged for us. Their love of flamenco music was infectious and to see the culture here in Jerez based around such a strong tradition was amazing . The tapas on thick greaseproof paper, the sherry in tumblers, the friends and families all in support clapping and sometimes dancing with intense fervor is a memory I will have forever and it brings home the
appreciation and enjoyment of experiencing real local life with real people, doing what they do everyday.