…how to describe the difference between Thursday and Friday. About the best I can do for Thursday is something like “a few busy periods interspersed with slow times” and for Friday “all busy, all the time, with almost no slow times.”
Let’s see if I can clear that up.
We left Córdoba on Thursday. That meant packing, which always takes more time than we allocate, and after another good breakfast and goodbyes at Posadero, we headed to the train station–where we waited for an hour. The train ride to Seville was fast, but the train was late so we rushed to our next train and then slooowly went on to Jerez de la Frontera. [It was a train with several stops.] When we got to Jerez, we thought the rushing was over, but we were wrong. The taxi driver was unable to find our Airbnb despite clear directions from our host and we careened through lots of sidestreets and backtracked several times before the driver turned off the meter, drove around some more, and finally let us out (tossed us out) in the general area. Our host walked a couple of blocks to find us and we were able to get into our apartment.
We are in a great location and the apartment is very nice.
After we did a little unpacking, we quickly walked to a supermercado (grocery store) not too far away to get initial supplies before the store closed. Then it was time to find something to eat. One would think that in a city of 250,000 people with approximately 250,000 restaurants that would be easy, but it took visits to quite a few before we settled on a place we had been several times in the past. Finally, we could relax and eat a leisurely meal. By now it was about 8:30. At about 9:15, we were still waiting for our food to arrive, so I don’t know if that counts as “slow time” or just as “frustrating time.”
So, as you can see, Thursday was mixed. There was nothing “mixed” about Friday. We were busy from before 9:00 until 1:00 am Saturday morning. We met our friend Amarita, who lives here in Jerez, for breakfast at a local bar-café for breakfast. [Don’t worry about the “bar” part. A sign inside said they did not serve large beers until after 10:00.] After breakfast, we showed her where we are staying and then took a walk around the area with her. We were already roughly familiar with the area because I have been lost here many times. [ I would prefer to have you think I was exploring, but Patricia insists on “lost.”]
One of the reasons this Festival de Jerez is special is that the National Institute of Flamenco’s repertory group, Yjastros, has been invited to perform. It is an honor to be invited to perform at all, but for a group from outside of Spain to be invited is almost unheard of. In celebration, a number of people from the U.S. made the trip to Jerez to support Yjastros. There are some NIF board members such as myself and other interested people–some of whom have not been to this festival or even to Spain. There are there some walking tours and meals arranged in the lead-up to the performance on Tuesday, the 28th.
Now it was time to meet with the group for the first time. The first meeting was a little challenging because of travel difficulties and people have trouble finding the restaurant Albores where we were going to eat. We were there at an off time so there was plenty of support from the restaurant to make the meal run smoothly. Dish after dish appeared on the table and each was sampled by the group of 13, which grew to 15 when two Spanish artists, Rafael Estévez & Valeriano Paños arrived, recognized Eva Encinias, and joined our table. There was a lot of good conversation and the afternoon was off to a good start.
After our meal, the group did a short walking tour of this part of Jerez, mostly focused on where performances will take place. Patricia and I felt gelato was called for as we walked back to the apartment. It is a good thing we ate in the afternoon, because there would have been no time for a meal before our first performance or between that and the second performance. The first performance was at Teatro Villamarta (the largest venue) where we saw the Spanish National Bellet Company. I can almost hear you thinking “Ballet? I thought it was a flamenco festival.” Well, I used to think that also. But the Ballet Nacional de España has proven it can successfully combine the core elements of both styles, as well as folklorico, into performances that can tell a story in a wonderful fashion. Last night’s show, Loco, combined classical music with flamenco cante and guitar and ballet with baile to tell a story that needed no words. It was completely absorbing to us.
After that performance, we had to hustle over to Bodegas Tio Pepe to see a performance on a smaller scale, but one which was no less enthralling. Vicente Soto, “Sordera,” spent more than an hour telling us about his life through songs of the cities that mean a lot to him. This cante (song) performance was one of the innumerable times when I wished my Spanish was good enough to let me understand las letras (verses) better. But good cante, I think, relies on the emotion / passion expressed by the cantaor, male or female. This performance began at shortly after 11:00 pm which sounds late, but is actually an hour earlier than the late-night performances used to begin. We got home at the relatively early hour of 1:00 am.
As I write this at 9:45 Saturday morning, it is almost time to head out for another walking tour, a wine tasting, a meal, and 3 performances.
I’ll add some pictures to the pictures page under the “Jerez” folder soon.
Below is a map that shows where we walked on the 24th.