It is near midnight and we are ghosting through the Straits of Gibraltar. The lights of vessels passing in all directions is dazzling, and no wonder as the straights that separate Europe from Africa are only 8 miles wide. This is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. We can make out a dim outline of the iconic “Rock” as it towers 1,400 feet above the shore and its 30,000 inhabitants. It is not an island, being connected by land to Spain. It is a British protectorate, a matter of friction with Spain, but it’s citizens have twice in referendum rejected leaving the Commonwealth.
Our day was spent in Cadiz, Spain. As we walked through the old city, Christine remarked to me, “You’re really happy!”. I suddenly realized that a kind of joy was radiating from within and its source was a sense of “homecoming”. We spent nearly 2 months in Spain in 2013 creating precious memories and friendships.
Cadiz in one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, having been founded by the Phoenicians in 1,100 BCE. The city consists of 3 islands, and is linked to land by a narrow isthmus. This has been the home of Spain’s Navy for centuries and is the port from where its fleet sailed to a disastrous defeat by the British at Trafalgar in 1805. This was the port of departure for Columbus on his second and subsequent voyages to the New World. The old city bristles with nearly 150 watch towers that provided the inhabitants with continuous vigilance for seagoing friend and foe. Today it is also host to one of the US Navy’s largest Mediterranean bases.
We toured the old city and were especially taken with the Cadiz Cathedral and remarkable subterranean crypt. We secured sellos (stamps) on our Camino credentials, the clerk immediately recognizing our status as Perigrinos. We enjoyed typical treats of cafe-con-leche, chocolate’ with churros, and assorted tapas washed down with excellent beer.
We further enjoyed visiting vendors in the market which included a butcher and a man using a converted bicycle to sharpen knives. Another treat was a street Flamenco dancer who wowed the crowd.
Tomorrow is our last at sea day before Valencia and disembarkation at Barcelona.
Peace Everyone. Pete