Wednesday was the first day we had to catch our breath. So, naturally, there was housekeeping to do. We figured out how to turn on the washing machine but after I read the instructions on what we thought was soap, I discovered that it was bleach with soap. That would not work for us. That meant a quick trip to the store—about 10 minutes away by foot. Well, we got the machine going but then it seemed that it would not stop. We tried to turn the machine off. “No,” it said. We called our host and he came over to see if we could figure out the problem together. [David is really accommodating and helpful.] I finally found a user manual on line. It seems that a laundry cycle on the washer is 170 minutes from wash through spin by default. That would not work for us. We ended up using a much shorter cycle, but we really did have to wait nearly 3 hours for our first batch of laundry. The weather was pretty good on Wednesday so we were able to hang the clothes out to dry.
While the clothes were drying, we took the opportunity to try another restaurant. Patricia thinks we found THE keeper. It is called Albores and is just off the Arenal Plaza. We ate outside. Patricia had 3 different tapas. I think they were all seafood related. I had a serving of risotto con gorgonzola y nueces (rice with blue cheese and walnuts). I quite liked it. I know Patricia liked hers.
We explored a bit before heading back to the apartment. As nice as the weather was, it wasn’t warm enough to dry all of the clothes, so down they came from the roof.
We only had one espactaculo scheduled for Wednesday. We saw Manuela Carpio’s show called “Al Compás Con Su Gente.” We had the same good seats at Teatro Villamarta as we did on Monday so we had a good view. This may have been the best show we have seen to date in Jerez. Her group had 12 people with multiple singers and guitar players, but she did all of the dancing. I probably should not say “all” of the dancing; from time to time, the cantaores would break out in flamenco steps but not so choreographed as regular dancers. Manuela Carpio’s dancing was tremendous. With lots of enthusiasm and emotion, the performance was engaging and stimulating. At the fin de fiesta (lit. “the end of the party” but think of it as the closing) everyone took a final turn of dance and song. I don’t know if it was part of the show or not, but as everyone in the theater stood up to applaud and as many bouquets were delivered to Manuela, the show’s director was in the corner of the stage trying to shoo all the performers off. I think no one wanted the evening to end.
Thursday we took a trip to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, about 20 miles from Jerez. Sanlúcar sits at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river on the Atlantic Ocean. Columbus launched his third voyage to the “New World” from there and Magellan set sail from there on his ill-fated trip around the world. Only 18 people out of 270 survived the trip. There is a very nice mural in the main square that depicts some of the survivors rushing into a church to give thanks for their return.
We went with Margarita Lozano, who also showed us around Jerez and Cadiz this week. She had lined up another guide to show us the city. Victor, who is a native of Sanlúcar, really loves his city and it came through in everything he told us. We spent time in both the Barrio Bajo (low part of the city) and the Barrio Alto (the high part of the city). A lot of the low part of the city used to be part of the river but over time, the river silted up and created more land. We saw the interiors of two nice churches, a palace or two, and the inside of what is now part of the city administration.
Victor seemed to have friends everywhere and was able to get us into places we could not have otherwise seen. In the 18th century, French nobles came to Sanlúcar and built residences—palaces. The Orleans and Bourbon families created the largest palaces. We were able to wander around in the 18th century gardens where we found city overlooks. We walked many streets because Victor had much he wanted to show us. Our time was limited and we will have to add Sanlúcar to our list of places we want to see again.
I didn’t mention it earlier, but Victor’s day job is at the Hidalgo – La Gitana bodega. Sanlúcar is famous for a type of sherry called “manzanilla.” Victor gave us an interesting tour of the bodega. The process for making manzanilla is similar to the process for making sherry and indeed there were rows and rows of barrels stacked 3 and 4 high.
A nice feature of the tour was that from time to time Victor would stop at a barrel and use a venencia to extract little sample of the different types of manzanilla for us to taste. (A venencia is a typical narrow, cylindrical cup attached to a long, flexible handle that is used to draw out wine from a barrel.) Victor gave us a lot of information and we now have a better appreciation of the qualities of different kinds of sherry. Of course, acquiring that information required sampling several kinds of sherry, but sacrifices must sometimes be made.
Back in Jerez we had lunch—maybe not lunch, but an afternoon meal—at what may be Patricia’s new favorite restaurant in Jerez: Albores. We had another good meal there.
This evening we saw Marco Flores’ show “Tránsito” at Sala Paúl. The music and dance were wonderful. The dance, all by Marco Flores, was mostly traditional but with elements of ballet and classical dance. The canataora, Mercedes Cortés was powerful and emotional. The guitarra, Jesús Núñez, was outstanding. The company worked very well together and the performance flew by.