One to Grow On

May 22, 2010

Africa, almost

Filed under: children, food, Food Allergies, Spain, travel, weather — midway2go @ 11:22 am

We were really close.  I mean, really, really close.  We had reservations in Fez, I had the train connections from Tangier to Fez copied into my notebook, and the ferry tickets were bought.  We left the house in La Herradura right at 10 and made good time to Tarifa.  We even thought we might be in time for the 1pm ferry and not have to wait until 3pm to cross.  We could see the Rif mountains of Moroccoo across the Straight of Gibraltar.  We were so close.

Well, the woman in the red FRS ferry compnay jacket told us, screaming to be heard over the wind, the 1pm ferry was cancelled due to weather, and the forecast for the 3pm ferry wasn’t looking good.  The decision to go or to cancel would be made by 2pm.    We explained, with big eyes, that we had made arrangements (indeed, had spent most of the previous day making arrangements, but I didn’t tell her that), that we had reservations.  She offered that we could drive back to Algeciras and take a boat to Ceuta, or wait until the next day.  She was quite gracious and kind in explaining that our tickets would be valid on any crossing their company made, on any day.  By the time this was all shouted back  and forth it was 11:53am in Morocco, and we had until noon to cancel our hotel reservations.  In 45 seconds we cancelled a sidetrip planned for days and dreamed of for years. 

I got through to the hotel, who couldn’t find my reservation anyway, and we made the most of our afternoon in Tarifa.  We were literally blown from one street into smaller and smaller alleys, trying to get out of the wind.  My hair looked like I’d teased it for the prom, and Nora was almost blown off some rocks she was scrambling around on.  I was grumpy and irritable and my skin hurt from the wind.  I told Brandon, Seems like we’ve been somewhere else where the wind blew like this and I was miserable.  He said, Yeah, we lived in Kansas.  Oh, right. 

If we didn’t have reservations in Morocco, we didn’t have them in Spain, either.  We spent a few minutes looking for our good Iberian atlas (it’s gone), then a few more looking at the large, useless map.  We made a couple of calls to hotels in various towns in Portugal and settled on staying in Spain and going to Arcos de la Frontera, a great Andalusian town built on a knife’s edge of land with cliffs falling away on either side.  We got a room in the Parador, counted ourselves lucky, and headed out for the 60 mile drive.  Well, the car battery was dead and we had to be jumped,  our map turned out to be incorrectly labelled not once but twice, and a section of the road was closed, necessitating a 20 kilometer detour.  More than three hours later we pulled into Arcos, tired and hungry but glad not to be driving 4 more hours into Portugal. 

Our balcony at the Parador literally hung over the side of the gorge.  One wrong step would have meant a perilous plummet to a pulpy death.  [Brandon put in that last sentence about pulpy death.]  I had imagined  Brandon and I sharing a bottle of wine out there while the kids  drifted happily off to sleep.  Well, more dreams gone with the wind.  Instead we sat for hours over plate after plate of yumminess at a little restaurant in the dungeon of the palace.  By the door was a tiny little barbecue.  We ordered everything off the menu that we could eat:  favas cooked with atrichoke hearts in garlic sauce, mushrooms in a spicy sauce, pototo salad, freshly roasted red peppers with onions, mixed salad, spicy pork on skewers, stewed lamb, pork loin wrapped in bacon on the grill, tiny lamb chops…  We rolled ourselves uphill and straight into bed.

Today we’ve poked around, looking in shops and eating at small metal tables.  I think I could devote some serious time to the study of olives.  Yum.  I had a glass of sherry at lunch so rich, so sweet, it was like icy velvet in my mouth.  Nora has been flamenco dancing her way around the city.  She is constantly moving, snapping, stomping.  We found her flamenco shoes for her birthday, red with black polka dots and squat little heels.  She can’t wait- 11 more days.  And Rory asked great questions in the church today.  The Spanish altars are so elaborate and ornate, but some of the statues and paintings seem to breathe.  Young Mary is a doting nursing mother;  a beaming Joseph holds young Jesus.  An eldery bearded man holding a large sceptre we decided was supposed to be God, but we had reservation (I think he looks more like King Triton, Ariel’s father in Little Mermaid).  Mary stands beside Christ on the cross, crying gemstone tears.  We saw not one word of scripture nor one Bible, but there was message a plenty.

Tomorrow we head to Seville for a couple of days before Brandon has to go back, but We Are Not Talking About That.  What’s next for the three of us?  I don’t know, but it’ll have to be good.  We are going to be three sad sacks in need of distraction.  Maybe we’ll try again for Africa.  I really, really want to go, although I would much rather go holding tight to Brandon’s hand in the medinas.  Still, it would be fabulous.  And we are so close!  Courage, mon enfant!  I tell myself.  We’ll see if it works.

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2 Comments »

  1. Hey C- the photos are lovely and the food you described in the post sounded scrumptious. Happy/safe travels to you. xoxo

    Comment by Shelly — May 22, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  2. All of the photos tell a story. I just love to see Rory and Nora and Brandon so happy. Chrislyn, Grandpa said you are not in the pictures but you are behind the camera. I am so pleased that all of you are enjoying this adventure together. Love, Grandma Barbara

    Comment by Barbara — May 22, 2010 @ 7:25 pm


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