I’m so wrong about this place. Jerez is far from being a boring little obscure forgotten town, by the way and out of the way from Cadiz. And my original plan to spend two weeks writing my new book in this “one-horse town” only ends up loving Spain even more.
Contrary to my naïve first impression, Jerez is definitely not a one-horse town. The Horse or El Caballo is a most distinguished symbol of Jerez. These Carthusian or Andalusian horses are excellent performers of strength and beauty characteristic of their breed. Throughout the year, equestrian events are held showcasing spectacular dressage shows with colourfully dressed señors and señoritas strutting their stuff on foot and on carriages. Ladies with flowers in their hair and colourful flowing Spanish dresses with their men in traditional Andalucian riding costumes, all looking dashing and flamboyant.
Talk about costumes and traditions, the old town is filled with flamenco music and dance studios, theatres and shops. According to the tourism brochure, Jerez is the birthplace of flamenco and is a magnet of flamenco enthusiasts from all over Spain and the world. Damn right, I’m spoiled now. Won’t see flamenco elsewhere except in Jerez where locals in tabernas will spontaneously perform a little song and dance when the mood is right after a few rounds of their fortified wines.
Not surprising, here is the place where the favourite after-dinner drink sherry first originated and how the place got its name. There are so many bodegas around town all offering tours and degustation for happy tourists to taste the ageing of a certain white palomino grape. Like ‘Champagne’, the name ‘Sherry’ is protected and can only be used for sweet wine produced here. By the way, Jerez means sherry in Spanish and is derived from various old names including Xerez.
Walk around the old town through meandering lanes and open squares, Christian buildings with Moorish ruins, Phoenician and Roman remains, signs of Spain’s golden age and today’s recession, peddlers selling garlic and other farm produce outside high Spanish fashion brands in classic buildings, a busker outside a restaurant, a vagabond admiring an old church, a group of old friends, young people, an odd guiri hoping to find inspiration to write.
Each evening when Steve comes back from work, he’ll ask “So did you get any writing done?” and it’s the same answer, “No, but I’m on to something” which really means I’ve not started on my book yet.
Well tomorrow I’m going back to Madrid after two lovely weeks in Jerez, the not-boring, not-obscure, many-horses city so superbly hidden from the world. And I think I’ve really got something going on now.