Central Market in Jerez exterior

Our first day in Jerez could not have been better. [Nuestro primer día en Jerez no podría haber sido mejor.] We slept in a little after our long day of travel. The weather started out cool, in the low 40s, but warmed up to the low 70s by the afternoon.

The line at the Teatro Villamarta ticket office where I went to pick up our tickets.

I walked over to the Teatro VillaMarta taquilla (ticket office), which is only a few minutes away, to pick up our tickets for the festival performances. I got there just as the box office opened, but there was already a long line. For more than a half hour, there was only one person handling customers, so the line moved slowly. Finally another window opened and the line began to move a little more quickly. Our tickets were ready and there was only one small problem with missing tickets for a single performance. 

Some of the stalls in the Mercado

Patricia and I went out and headed in the direction of the central market (mercado). That is the local fish, fruit, cheese, and produce market. It is similar to a farmers’ market. It is located in a nearby square. It isn’t open every day, and it closes around siesta time, so we wanted to get there [relatively] early. The weather was already nice enough for us to sit outside and enjoy a café con leche before walking through the market building. There are many stalls inside the historic building and the stalls all have very nice displays of fish, meat, cheese, and so on. Not all the fruit or produce is grown locally, but a lot is. The fishmongers and butchers were busy preparing their wares for the crowds of customers. 

Fresh choco—but not appealing to me. Note the tentacles.

Jerez is close to the sea, so there was a lot of fresh fish. Some I had not seen before. For example, there was something that looked popular and yet unappealing to me. It is called ¨choco” here and when I looked it up, I discovered it was cuttlefish. It has tentacles, so I wondered if it was actually a fish. Despite its name, a cuttlefish is actually a mollusc and is related to squid and octopus. We bought oranges of a type we had not seen before and I’m looking forward to trying them.

We had spotted a panadería  (bakery) on Thursday so we walked over to it to make sure they served breakfast and found out that they do “todo el día” (all day) which is good because it was way past breakfast time for us.

In fact, it was time to start thinking about lunch. That didn’t actually require much thinking because we were close to restaurante Albores, at which we have eaten several times on past visits. It is in a nice location, across from town hall (ayuntamiento) in a row of other restaurants. You can’t be in a rush if you eat at one of the outside tables, Our food had just arrived when we saw Cheryl, a friend from Santa Fe, getting ready to eat there too. We invited her to join us and the three of us had a very nice lunch. She is taking flamenco classes as well as attending performances. 

When I bought tickets for us, I also bought some for Dennis Covington, who also lives in Santa Fe. He, too, is here in Jerez, to take classes and see performances. He came over to our Airbnb in the afternoon and we had a good visit.

So, by yesterday afternoon, we had seen 4 people from Santa Fe, here in Jerez. It is indeed a small world.

Exterior of Teatro Villamarta, where we will see many performances

The two performances we saw last night (and early this morning) were truly memorable. The first, put on by Rafaela Carrasco, told a version of the Greek myth of Ariadne, Theseus, the Minotaur, and the labyrinth. A Greek myth, done in flamenco style? That makes no sense, you say. But it did. It was wonderfully staged. The lighting and sound were used to set a mood. There was enough narration to keep the story clear. The dance and music told a story. I mention that because in most cases where the production claims to tell a story, I end up feeling confused and wondering what I missed. Not in this case. While the story didn’t match any version of the myth that I know, “al hilo del mito” (from the thread to the myth) had the essentials. This was a premier and, I think, a successful one. I would see it again if I had the opportunity.

After the espectáculo, we went with Dennis, Cheryl, and Jessica (a dance student) to a nearby tabanco for a drink and conversation befor our midnight show. The Tabanco el Pasaje was crowded and noisy—even outside in the passage—and the kind of place we would normally steer clear of, but we had a good time. While we were there some of the dancers from the show, including Rafaela, arrived to loud cheers and congratulations.

El Cabrero with Manuel Hererra at Gonzalez Byass

We walked over to Gonzalez Byass (Tío Pepe) for our midnight show. They have stopped giving away sherry, which was a small disappointment. Here we saw El Cabrero (Jose Dominguez) who was doing his final recital. Cabrero seemed frail as he made his way to the stage with help from a couple of people including his guitarist, Manuel Herrera. He sat in a wicker chair, mostly motionless, as he sang. His singing was strong and emotional and the audience responded equally strongly. I didn’t know it at the time, but el Cabrero (the goat herder) is and has been a protest singer and social activist. His enunciation was clear and he introduced each song with a few words. It was clear that the audience contained many fans who knew his work. During one song, there was loud applause for each verse and a standing ovation at the end. Even though we did not understand the lyrics (las letras) well it was clear that he connected to the people. It was, for us, a very real example of duende (a quality of passion and inspiration that doesn’t translate exactly).

It is a short walk from Gonzalez Byass to our apartment so we were back by 1:30 this morning. A long day, but one of our best days in Jerez.

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