0089 The Moors’ last Stand (Spa 002—revisit)
Tarifa Travel Blog› entry 2 of 35 › view all entries
I arrive in Algeciras before dawn and decide to head straight to Tarifa to see an old friend--a Mexican fellow married to a Spaniard. I don’t have any memories of that town so it’s going to be my first “new discovery” in the Old Continent. I take a bus on a twisty road under the shadow of hundreds of giant windmills (not the Don Quixote type, unfortunately). There location is no coincidence--Tarifa is a very windy city--in fact, it's rumored that the wind makes some people go crazy in this town!
It’s still dark as I get off the bus as walk down Main Street lined with windsurf shops in the howling wind.
Lino’s life has improved dramatically—he’d been quite poor when I last saw him and now lives in the nicest part of Tarifa. We get caught up on each others’ lives, I enjoy a hearty Mexican breakfast, then head back to explore the old city.
The Old City of Tarifa has quaint, polished feel to it with it’s winding white and yellow alleys with cozy little boutiques and restaurants tucked away. It’s pleasant to see a historical place so well kept up—although it does lack that raw adventurous feel of the gritty alleys of Saigon or Bangkok. I reach the wall overlooking the sea with ruins of an old tower to my left and cliffs beyond, and to my right stately old Spanish buildings with a Moorish flair to them.
I’m remember hearing about the last battles the Moors fought in this place, Tarifa being the last stronghold the clung to before being driven off the Iberian peninsula. Statues and plaques around me tell of the pride Spaniards still hold in that accomplishment. Even though that was over 500 years ago, it seems to be very present in people’s minds. But I also think of the atrocities that accompanied that victory—the killing and forced expulsion of all Muslims and Jews… and I wonder how I would look back at that fateful time in history if I were a Spaniard… or a Moroccan… or a Jew… and how that might color my perception of other people.
I think of this as a walk the city, out of the touristy area into some residential back alley which are not nearly as crisply maintained.
Then, after thinking in over a bit, I decide to go ahead and go on down to Morocco, where I have some business to take care of. But I’ll be sure and save some time for exploring more of Spain on my way back. I hop on the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar, and soon the castle, the statues guarding the city, and the windmills perched atop the emerald hills began to fade into the horizon.
* for my next adventures in Spain, go to Entry 0110