After another good meal in Córdoba at Trinaja we spent our last night at Patio del Posaderos. Saturday morning Lisa prepared another great breakfast for us before we had to rush off to catch a train for Jerez de la Frontera with a change in Seville. It was misty (or foggy) almost all the way to Jerez.
When we arrived at the train station in Jerez our Airbnb host, David Galindo, took us to our apartment and then took us on a walking tour of part of Jerez and gave us lots of recommendation for food, dance, and shopping. He went above and beyond what anyone would expect from an Airbnb host. The apartment is quite nice. It is spacious, clean, and well equipped. However, (you knew there would be a but, didn’t you?) as David warned me last summer when I made the reservation, the apartment does not have any heat. According to David, that’s not usually a problem, but I have to say that right now it is really cold in here. It’s not much warmer outside, either. It has been in the low 50s.
I was able to pick up all of the tickets for the performances we have scheduled—10 so far—with no trouble. Well, I shouldn’t say no trouble. I forgot that in Andalucía they take siesta seriously. Stores—and ticket offices—are closed for several hours in the afternoon. It took me two trips to the taquilla at Teatro Villamarta to get our set of tickets. Fortunately, the Teatro is not much more than a half mile away.
We went to our first performance of the Festival de Jerez in Palacio Villavicencio to see the cantaores (singers) Manuel Moneo Carrasco and Manuel Soto Carrasco “Maloko.” Wow! What energy!
Two different styles and we enjoyed both immensely.
We found a restaurant in Plaza del Arenal for an after-show meal. Great food (pizza) and good prices.
Then we walked back to the apartment for a break before the midnight show. As we planned the trip, I made careful notes about performance places and times. I made a map that shows the location of each venue. [Note to self: notes and maps are only useful if you consult them.] When we got to Teatro Villamarta at about 11:30, I was surprised to find it closed. Surprised because I was sure that’s where we would see Mayte Martin. When I actually looked at the notes and the tickets, they were very clear that the performance was at Gonzalez Byass, not Teatro Villamarta. I didn’t have the map with me and I could not make my phone’s GPS work. (Getting the phone from the U.S. to access the internet here has been a challenge.) So, picture two tourists, in an increasing panic, stopping passers-by and asking “Perdon, ¿donde esta Gonzalez Byass?” People were quite nice about giving directions.
We made it just in time and found some relatively good seats for the Mayte Martin performance. And, since Gonzalez Byass was once a bodega (wine company and warehouse) we got some sherry and drank it during the performance. Pretty civilized, if you ask me.
About the performance: Wow! Wow! What a cantaora! An hour and a half of duende. We really enjoyed her and her compañia. We walked back to the apartment at about 2:00 am and felt perfectly safe while doing it.
We aren’t used to such late nights and we didn’t get going until well after 10 this morning. To help avoid last night’s confusion we decided to walk to Sala Pául so we would know the way tonight. It was a nice walk and helped us become familiar with the area.
We had seen that several of the local peñas (think of them as flamenco “clubs”) were having special performances in conjunction with the Festival. It so happens that Peña Flamenca Los Cernícalos is literally across the street from our apartment and we went to a free performance there this afternoon. The peña was absolutely jammed with not even any remaining standing room. I think the audience was mostly made up of local people. Whoever they were, they clearly knew their flamenco. Their jaleos were all emphatic and all together. The cantaores, Manuel de la Nina and Enrique Remache, were really good and the guitarra, Ismail Heredia, had real talent and flair. The highlight, if I can single out a single thing, was the bailaor Miguel Ángel Heredia. He is a (I’m running out of superlatives here) great dancer with a real “presence” on the stage (pista de baile?). He entranced the audience. I have to say that Patricia is still drooling, as well as still talking about what we saw. Wow! Wow! Wow!
It seems that every city (and sometimes every barrio in every city) in Andalucía claims the title of the “birthplace of flamenco.” With what we have seen so far—and I mean more the spirit and knowledge of the people than simply the performances—I am ready to grant the title to Jerez de la Frontera.
Another late night for us in a little bit. I won’t try to post many pictures tonight because the wireless is not too speedy.