there are precious few places in this world where i could honestly say that i would truly love to live– i spent time in santa fe in the 70s, a halcyon age there, before the blight of it being overrun by the modern carpetbagger. and of course, if summer lasted all year long in vancouver, i could be pursuaded to stay there. now of course, i live in cozumel in mexico, a place of superb light and excellent energy, fuelled by the interaction of island and ocean and sun– and the occasional hurricane. i love living here, and felt that way immediately when i first visited the place sometime in the last millennium. but cadiz– well, it is a splendid place, bursting at the seams with artistic light and artistic subject– i felt that same old familiar feeling.
cadiz is one of the oldest, if not THE oldest city in europe, and is situated at the end of a long peninsula of land, making it easy to defend i would suppose. my hotel was easy to find though, despite the crowded streets going every which way. after checking in i went to a small place next door and had a cuppa coffee and a glass of gaspacho– wonderful gaspacho!! and a super tasty salad. my room overlooked this little restaurant, and it would become a familiar haunt for my daily coffee consumption– the service was very friendly, but not particularly sharp, so often i would have to venture inside to get another cup, pay the bill, or ask the occasional question.
being on a peninsula, the city is afforded a lot of shoreline, and great morning light in which to shoot photos– i took advantage of it every day i spent there, tramping around all the narrow alley-like streets in search of something new. lots and lots of churches and cathedrals too, but many are so crowded that the shooting can be of a difficult nature. for instance, the cupolas seen above are difficult to see from the other side of the structure, but there was something quite magical about seeing them, sprouting like mushrooms in the early morning mists.
the facade is in a not so roomy square, and flanked by the iglesia de santiago on one side– hard to find good light to shoot it before the massive hordes descend, hun-like, upon the site. still, space being what it is in cadiz, this square is amongst the largest. it echoes a bunch if you get there early enough.
also remarkable was the open air market, which has just recently been rebuilt and opened, completely impressing me. it is modern, but still with a touch of old rome in it. so much to see, and everything looking its’ fresh and tasty best– colorfully aranged to show itself off to advantage– a true assault on the senses. i wanted to shoot some photos, but everything i saw could be seen in your basic book on photography, so what i got ended up on the cutting room floor.
so– i explored the town, i walked to the old fort– el castillo de santa catalina, which they are restoring. there was a newly wed couple in there under the gun of a short napoleonic photographer, seemingly lashing them with a mental whip to get what he wanted from them– they in turn would shoot daggers from their eyes at him on occasion. there were some huge rubber trees there closeby as well– enormous things, two of them covering a huge area with their leafy umbrellas. an old spa was on the shore as well, and a large expanse of beach with frolicsome people and sunbathers. i explored the musee cadiz, a marvellous old place, full of paintings and a great sculpture, “la gades”— “gades” being a more original spelling or pronunciation of the name of the city. not only beautiful, but the finish on the piece was evocative and inspirational.on the top floor of the museum was a room containing perhaps twenty old “sets” for marionette shows, and i am truly pissed at myself for not shooting any of them, they were so marvellous.
well, i have spoken of so many things i liked in cadiz, but i haven’t yet mentioned my favorite– the night sky. the color of this sky at night is hard to believe, and i dredged my mind for some adjective that wasn’t trite or overused, but i have to say i couldn’t find anything. “like finely crushed lapis lazuli” was about the best i could come up with, but i would sit and marvel over that sky time and time and time again, it was the most difficult thing i had to leave behind in cadiz when i drove out early one morning– next stop– morocco– will see you there!!