Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Lunch over looking Africa

Tarifa... The Southern most point of mainland Europe, where two continents stretch out to one another, finger tips almost within touching distance. Arabic and Iberian culture fuse with one another after years of fruitful cross pollination.

Climbing through the winding streets through the old town, the languid, easy going nature of this city becomes apparent. For years it was a fiercely faught-over gateway to neighbouring civilisations, now it's one of the biggest attractions on the the Costa De Luz; A welcoming pit stop for travellers heading South into Africa, and a haven for the wind and kite surfers of the world, all searching for the perfect rip.

The most traditional of Andaluz cafes spill out into the streets and plazas, complete with all the Arabic hallmarks of palms, fountains, and blue and white mosaic tiles. Meanwhile 'alternative' culture nestles in comfortably besides, all ecotherapies, vegan pizzas, piercings, tattoos and dreadlocks.

At the highest point of the town stands the Mirador Del Estrecho. A single tower standing proudly to attention, presenting a Spanish flag across the water to Tangier, Morroco and the remainder of the world that lies beyond.

Sheltering to one side of the courtyard that surrounds the lookout, I lay my lunch out on the bench beside me. It's a modest assortment, but nonetheless, one I don't think I'll ever tire of: Fresh bread, ripe tomatoes bought from an old lady at a street stall, and a sweet, juicy orange bearing the paper wrapper branding of Naranjos Sastre de Sevilla. I stare out to sea for minutes on end between each mouthful, and the next time I look at my watch, almost an has passed before me. It's amazing how enthralling a dark band across the horizon can be...

Below lies the Playa de Los Lances where the the world's second largest ocean is funnelled into a bottle neck at the Straights of Gibraltar, there are five kilometres of windswept shore that is constantly pounded with the full force of nature's elements. After stashing my bag beneath an as yet unopened beach bar on the sand dunes, I head off to the water, spending the remainder of the afternoon body boarding in the frothy white waters of the Atlantic.

When I return, the owner is at the bar, adding a lick of paint to the exterior before the season gets underway on the first weekend in June. With shades wrapped across his eyes, and long hair blowing in the wind, he tells me how he spends four months here, four months at his other chiringuito in Uruguay, and the remainder of the year with friends in his native Madrid. I wonder if life could be any more perfect.

After drying off in the evening sun, I head back to the old town, plonking myself at the first table I see on the terraces of palm tree-lined Paseo de la Alamedas. I order my current favourite dish, calamari a la plancha, and sit sipping a beer, eating olives, and dunking chunks of bread into a saucer full of olive oil that's so piquant it makes my tongue tingle. Not even the warblings of the billowing-voiced American on the next table can spoil my sense of contentment, as he recalls his time serving in The US Army, as if the whole of Tarifa were his audience.

I finish my meal as the sun finishes it's long, slow kiss with the ocean, far away on the horizon. Leaning back on my chair, I look to the south, as the last of the highlights drop from from the cliffs of Africa's northern shores. The light dims over the Costa De Luz. A whole continent begins to fade into the dark, evening sky. And then, it is gone.

No comments:

Post a Comment