January 27 – This that and the other
First, Arcos de la Fontera – This is another puerto blanco and the best yet. It is genuinely perched on top of not one but two hills, it has a castle (but privately owned!), is full of superb palacios and narrow delightful streets – and it is well-heeled. The restaurants are excellent – we actually eat in a Moroccan and I had a brilliant lamb and prune tagine, Janet a pastela which was chicken in cinnamon and pistachio and rice in a filo pastry case with cashews and icing sugar to set it off.
We wandered the streets, having parked cheaply and easily in the high town. We loved the shops, the plazas, the churches and the palacios. We saw a superb early 18th century hotel for sale but could not even contemplate it at our age and that price. But it made us realise that this is one of those small but busy towns that could provide a hotel base for a brilliant week. Maybe, none day...
Now, the ruddy car -We are into the third week of hiring and only now can be sure that the claim will be met and on what terms (which are OK-ish). But LV-Frizzell has to get its Spanish agents to authorise the work so we are back on Spanish time. We have seen the garage – excellent – and arranged for the other kingpin to be replaced at the same time. Some time this week we may yet have our wheels back. WRONG - looks like it MIGHT be this week instead!
Last Sunday was the romeria – That's a pilgrimage to us and it celebrate3s the patron saint of Conil – St Sebastian. He's the one who said his God would raise him from the dead and the Visigoths tested this by filling him with arrows. In fact he failed to die immediately so they bashed his brains out for good measure. The arrows stayed in and he stayed dead. Anyway the town assembles for a mass at the parish church and then process, with full decorations the seven kilometres from there to El Colorado.
Posh gents astride their posh Andalucian horses with children or señoras or señoritas on the pillion. Others march in costume playing music and dancing the Flamenco down the street. More have pony and traps, decked with ribbons and bows and filled with bambinos. Farmers get out their oldest and or best tractor, dress it over all and join in. At the head is a Mary on a chaise carried aloft and a Sebastian pierced through and through.
Much Fino is drink (they carry little ceramic mugs on a leather string round their necks for the use of) but it also seems a lot of beer is also drunk these days, excellent black pudding is eaten (and much, much more). The sausage I can vouch goes especially well with a glass of Pedro Ximinex, the brilliant sweet sherry from the eponymous grape that makes Bristol Cream taste like washing up water loaded with sugar.