This weekend my partner Rafael and I went to the Cadiz region of Andalucia to
the west of the Costa del Sol, with its stunning Costa de la Luz. In little more than an hour one leaves the sheltered Med and experiences the fresh air of Andalucia’s Atlantic coast. It has some wonderful, unspoilt countryside
with Mediterranean pines trees lining the coast
(as they must have done here on
the Costa del Sol, before the bulldozers arrived), cork oaks inland and fields of arable crops, sunflowers
and cotton. Although Cadiz is a poor
region of Andalucia, with its fair share of ugly towns; it also has some beautiful,
sleepy mountain-top pueblos blancos with a strong bohemian feel.
It also has some of the best beaches and coastline in
Andalucia. By passing Gibraltar and
continuing west, one joins the Atlantic coast, with its clear surf and
stronger winds. Endesa, the national power-company has installed wind farms
across the region,
so elegant, white mills dominate the landscape.
Less popular with the package holiday makers, here you find
people that love surfing, kite surfing, cycling, hiking or just chilling in a
undeveloped, surprisingly uncommercial environment.
This time we drove past Tarifa and on beyond my favourite
beaches at Bolonia,continued north, towards Vejer de la Frontier. Turning west, we reached the coast again. The
towns are somewhat unkempt and have a studenty, alternative feel, but with
sandwiches and cold beer, you can’t beat the beaches.
Today is an anniversary of sorts for me. In some ways I wish
I had started my diary sooner, in 2003, when my life started to really
change. In retrospect that was to be the first step towards a new life in Spain. In June 2003 I started work for the US marketing
and incentives corporation that purchased our small marketing company in the UK
from my ex-partner & me. In selling the business, my life was to dramatically change. The following year in June 2004, I left the company after just one year as "an employee".
I recall how on Friday, 18 June 2004 I had a lunch at The
White Hart Pub with my colleagues to bid them my farewell. Although not many people know it then, I was
a wreck! My confidence was in a
shambles, following a very unhappy year. From that date I focused on how I could either rekindle or
leave an unhappy relationship as well as escape a lifestyle that
was dependent of some serious work revenue generation!
Just weeks before the "life-changing" sale of the business in 2003, I took a vacation in Dubai – the middle Eastern
playground that we’d been visiting each year for some 5 years. It was part of my old lifestyle. The old cliché of "work hard, play hard". Earn the cash, but spend it too, in the quest
for relaxation and fun. My ex -partner & I had gone to Dubai to have some space to confirm the details about the sale of the business.
I loved the luxury journey over to Dubai, (first class,
sipping vintage Dom Perignon, or course!); the stunning hotels; the amazing,
over-the-top resorts that rejoiced in complete, unfettered materialism. It really was a place I used to relax. With no
cultural, artistic or aesthetic distractions, one was left guilt-free to focus
on the all important task of relaxing in the guaranteed sun and eating three
gourmet meals a day!
Now, my idea of fun is just a little bit different; for
example a weekend on the Costa del la Luz.
The luxury journey over? This time it was in my battered 4 x
4 with 125 km on the clock.
The stunning hotel? Well, this time it was nothing more than
a basic hostel within a few metres of the rugged coastline and the fantastic broad,
golden sandy beaches (yes, I survived without aircon and bed linen with less
than a 400 thread count!).
The over-the-top resort? The hotel was in a small, some-what
grubby little coastal town that could not have been further from a resort, populated
with more than its fair share of young, white Rastafarians and other bohemian
The gourmet meals? This weekend it was tapas (of course), a Spanish breakfast of toast with
olive oil and tomatoes and dinner of freshly caught Tuna.
The relaxation? Well, that is even more of a contrast. Instead of Dubai-style poolside waiters
offering to clean my sun glasses or spray chilled water over me, today saw me
naked on a nudist beach lying on my beach towel, laid on the warm sand.