Today Christina and I did a day trip to Cordoba. We saw the Mequita (beautiful), the Roman bridge (beautiful), had lunch at Taverna Las Salina (beautiful and tasty) and wandered around a while (as we do).

It was rainy when we arrived, and cold, and we had not brought our umbrellas because we decided it wasn’t going to rain. But it wasn’t too long before the rain stopped and it got warm. As a result, after visiting the Mesquita in the miserable morning, when it was cold cold cold, we went back to give it a second chance in the glorious afternoon. It was still cold, but less cold when coming in from the sunny warm. (It’s probably a good place to visit in the summer. After a chat with our taxi driver, Christina found out that it can get up to 45 degrees C.) We also had a change to climb the bell tower to take pictures of the sunny afternoon view.

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I’m on the train now, going back to Jerez. We took the express train this morning, so it was and hour and 50 minutes to Cordoba. This was delightful. The train back is not express, and not only does it take about *infinity*, it is dark out so there is nothing to look at.

(It actually takes an hour longer. I used hyperbole for effect there.)

On Sunday mornings in Jerez there is a big market/crafters fair/flea market set up by the alcazar. We went to check it out and we’re amazed my the never-endingness of it. Tables and tables of used goods and antiques and crafts and Barbies and books and used clothing and tools and stuff and more stuff. We only saw a portion of it.

On Sunday afternoon, Christina and I left the apartment we’ve been in this whole time, walked our wheelie-bags for 10 minutes or so along ancient cobbled streets, and we are now installed at a fancy hotel. We decided to splurge a little for three nights: there’s a jet tub and bathrobes so I am very happy. We did room service (tuna sandwiches) because we were too tired to go out and get anything and then had hot baths with jets.

Saturday
Saturday was the last day of the flamenco festival and the last day of my flamenco class. It was sad, but a relief as I was still getting over my cold. I didn’t do as well as I might have had I been well: the week before I had the energy to practice the choreo outside of class, and therefore danced it better in class. Three days of this week were just about resting up for class, then surviving class, then resting some more. On Saturday I was feeling a lot better, so while I didn’t necessarily remember what I was supposed to be doing, I was enjoying running through choreo for the last times.

Food
I’ve been enjoying a lot of good food on this trip. Note that it has all been completely dairy-free thanks to Christina, who helps me read labels in grocery stores, and asks servers in restaurants if things are dairy free. I have learned many words myself, however, and through context, recognize “may contain” and “produced in a facility” warnings.

Between having a kitchen in the apartment, and eating out, food has been easy. My favorite restaurant in the Plaza de Plateros has a menu with a little allergens legend, so that was handy. There are a few things from that menu I’d like to have again before leaving:

1) Meat Pockets (or Empanadillas, as they’re called on the menu, “Argentine Pie” in their English translation) – pastry filled with ground pork and flecks of pepper, or other veggies maybe (I can’t tell because they’re flecks) and herbs. The tapa portion gives you two pockets on a plate. Good size, not too big and they aren’t messy to eat.

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meat pockets

2) Meat on a stick (or Brochettas on the menu) are bite-sized squares of salmon, bacon and a date, baked on a stick. SO good. You get two little sticks to a portion, with a little puddle of mayo on the side. I don’t eat the mayo. (There is another meat on a stick option on the menu that has other meat along with a chunk of baked cheese. Those who have tried it say it’s delicious. I prefer the non-cheese date option- OMG when Rachel ordered it she didn’t like the dates and let me have them. I like dates.)

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meat on a stick

3) I’ve also tried the Pisto a couple of times, which is described in the English translation on the menu as “ratatouille with quail’s egg.” It’s teeny chopped up veggies and bits of ham baked in a tomato/olive oil sauce, with a teeny quail’s egg on top. I dip bread in the sauce. I like dipping bread in things.

Note that all these things have longer, more descriptive titles on the menu, but I don’t remember them. When they are brought to the table, the server announces them as “empanadillas,” brochetta,” and “pisto” so that’s how I remember the names.

Food, Part 2
On Saturday, in the late afternoon, I made “whatever veggies are left pasta”. You might guess what at this is. It wasn’t bad. Christina and I finished it up; we were hungry after our last class.

Our apartment kitchen was mostly full of veggies and fruit throughout our stay. Eggs, pasta. Easy to make and eat. Oranges are a favorite, as they are amazing and sweet here, and of course, delicious after class.

I’m feeling much better today.

Right now just outside, there is a church function or gathering going on. Many many people mingling and chatting. Families and groups of teenagers. I saw the children’s choir again, too – they were flocking from the church. I don’t know if there is a service going on. There were big crowds of people walking around on my way home, too – big crowds relative to tiny streets, anyway. It was sometimes hard to get past them. I was moving in the opposite direction. It might be like what we saw on Sunday a couple of weeks ago, where everyone was kissing a saint (Christina and Emma saw this on Sunday, as well, at the big cathedral: everyone lined up to kiss Mary’s forefinger). This would account for the flow of people.

I started feeling better today at noon. Nice timing since class was at one. Class wasn’t as miserable today as it has been the past two days because today I had more energy and my nose wasn’t running the whole time! I was doing fine (energy-wise at least) until the very last run through of the choreo when I forgot everything: the footwork, what comes next, not even recognizing what everyone else was doing.  I guess my brain was ready for a nap Right Now. I don’t mind because the rest of the class was fine. I mean, I wasn’t as my most graceful because we did a lot of turns and I got dizzy, and some of the footwork is too fast, but other that that I had fun.

After that, because I restricted myself to the apartment yesterday, I went out and about shopping and looking at stuff. It was sunny and warm until the sun went down, when it got chilly.

Tomorrow is the last day of the flamenco festival and my last class. I am sad/relieved. I like it here, but I also want to go home. Just a few more days.

As much as I wanted the magical powers of the waters of the Hammam to *zap* me back to health, I still have a cold today. Boo.

Dance class when sick is not a good idea and I do not recommend it. That being said I went to dance class today and it was a matter of suffering through. My eyes wanted to close the whole time, and my footwork was pretty shallow (not very stompy) because I didn’t feel like lifting my feet very high. BUT we’re learning a very pretty piece, and despite (or because of?) the weak footwork, I started to get some things that I wasn’t getting before.

After class, Christina and I stopped for some Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice and it was pulpy heaven in a little cup. It’s so orange it looks fake, and I had to chew some of the pulp.

Then reading time – I’m almost halfway through the thick book I brought. Then nap time.

Then some feeling sorry for myself time for being sick on my holiday in Spain. Followed close by some appreciation for having found a nice apartment to stay in and I should be trying to get my money’s worth anyway. Also appreciation for having a lovely sunny room. Also, attempted appreciation for having the time to lie around and do nothing for a day, when really I want to be out exploring Jerez some more. It’s ok: I’ve explored quite a bit.

Then a chat with Emma regarding life, etc.  And now Emma’s making her dinner and practicing flamenco singing.

Note: you can’t escape flamenco in the south of Spain. It follows you everywhere. There’s music playing at restaurants, and random bouts of bulerias (party dance) when the bars close. I heard palmas (clapping) in the street the other day and found a group of boys just doing contra tiempo as they walked.

I’m sick today: sore throat and runny nose. But I like to think that I have cured it by attending the Arab bath here in Jerez. There are three pools: one is too hot, one is too cold, and one is juuuust right. I think I’ve shocked my system by doing the cold water bath followed by the hot water bath a few times. Maybe, maybe not. I also had a massage so I’m not too fussed about things in general right now. Very relaxed.

As I write I wait for my roommates to finish changing. I could have gotten a key from one or the other of them, but that seemed complicated. It’s all chill right now.

I had a glass of wine today after class and then I had a nap.

Before this, in the morning, I visited the big Jerez cathedral, which is a five minute walk from our apartment. I was the first visitor of the day – I wanted in as soon as I could so I would be sure to have enough time to look around and get home for lunch before my 1pm class.

Walking around the huge church all alone was a little creepy, but also a nice way to experience it. Quiet, except for the recorded church music at a medium volume. After the main churchy part, with the seats in the centre and altars along the sides, there were rooms of treasures. I know they were treasures because there were signs with arrows labelled “treasures”. Treasures are shiney. There were also rooms with paintings and sculptures- church-themed art gallery. I like the sculptures: some of them have arms chopped off so I could see that they are made of wood. Also, they are old and pretty. My favorite, or at least on that caught my eye, was one of Mary (I think) with her head drapery flying out dramatically, like she’s caught in a breeze or God’s rapture or something.

Wine
I’ve been having at least wine every day I’ve been here, if not two glasses, then one glass, and maybe a sherry instead (or, too). Yesterday was a sherry when I ran into Andrea in Plaza Plateros, immediately followed by the end of a bottle of tinto when I got home. Fun fun. But today in class I was a little dizzier than I should have been, so I’m taking the day off of wine and sherry today. I mean, we did learn a new turn, and had to repeat it, and I’m usually dizzy anyway, but.. let’s see if this helps? I’m not usually a glass-of-wine-a-day drinker so my body could be putting up a mild protest (i.e “WHAT THE EFF RED ALERT TOXIC”)

It’s time to get ready to go to a show. Tonight is Mercedes Ruiz, who taught me last week.

A lovely and happy sleep last night. I was in bed before 10:30, which hasn’t happened since I got here with shows/dinners. I was tired, and it was nice to have a full night’s sleep. We meant to go out to somewhere with flamenco music and drinks, or at least out for dinner, but once all the roommates were back from diverse activities in the evening we all had bread with meat and some red wine and relaxed at home.

New class starts today, but not until this afternoon, so I can lounge for this morning. I’m planning a big early lunch before I go: hopefully I remember too do this in time, and then remember too go to class.

Day Off
We have a day off from dance today. A new session begins tomorrow. I’ll be learning tientos with Isobel Bayon. I’m excited but my feet are still sore.

A day off might seem like a good day to rest but instead we went to market this morning to buy produce, where of course a flamenco mob occurred in the seafood section. We sort of stayed to watch but were also sort of trapped.

Then of course we stopped in at a flamenco store, and then of course it was lunch time and so had to stop for some tapas and fino. And then back home to drop off groceries only to take off again to try and visit the alcazar (closed) and to find the hammam.

It’s sunny and really cold today with the wind. I had to put on both cardigans and a hoodie along with my jacket and scarf. I don’t like the cold and wish for it to go away. Please. BUT the sun is shining in my window and warming my room AND we figured out how to make the heat com on in the apartment, so it’s cozy in here.

🙂 Spain!

P.S. Roommate update! Adam and Rachel and Baby have been replaced by Emma for this week. Emma arrived in Jerez like a miracle late last night and is now learning to navigate the twists and corners of this maze of a medieval city.