Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leaving Cádiz, Spain already!

These port visits will really be nothing more than a taste, a vague impression. Four or five days, particularly when divided into various “trips”, can’t be anything else. I was hoping to come up with a way of being less of a tourist, but that’s just not really possible – I am and will be a foreigner, an observer.
So, that said, Spain strikes me as an easy, fun place for us Westerners to visit – what a surprise! (Just joking) It’s been good to glimpse contrasting environments, from the busy streets of Seville where I joined throngs of tourists at the Alcazar, to the protected nature reserve of the Grazalema Park, and back to the local beaches of Cádiz. Although I honestly generally hate the idea of big tour buses, it is actually wonderful to have a good local tour guide who uses the travel time to tell you all kinds of interesting things you’d never get from the guide books. For instance, I asked why there were so few bicycles in flat Cádiz (where the traffic is TERRIBLE and the territory is small) and so many more in Seville, and he answered that the local governments are very different in the two places. Right-leaning Cádiz won’t fund the infrastructure needed to create bike lanes, whereas the leftist Green party in Seville has managed not only bike lanes, but a strong system of rental bikes (like in Paris and the Netherlands). Fascinating!
This south coast of Spain has omni-present moorish and roman roots, with Islamic, Christian, and Roman forms mixed even within the same structure, yet I haven’t run into a single obviously Muslim inhabitant. I’m curious. Leads me to believe that expulsion of Muslims must have been quite violent and final. The Netherlands looks so much more diverse.

I'm trying to post some of the pictures to Facebook, and link them here, but the ship system is VERY slow this evening, so be patient!

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