We have just got back from a couple of weeks traveling around Andalucia; we visited El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cádiz, Sevilla, Córdoba and Granada before taking the train to Madrid and then on to France.
It was good both to catch up with good friends and to see again the astonishing Moorish architecture of the Mesquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada – two of the most remarkable buildings ever constructed.
We also did our best to take in some Flamenco, though it’s always hard to pick one’s way through the abundance of shows for tourists which, while often good, are nonetheless expensive and lack a certain something. We managed to find three young performers in a bar in Sevilla who were both competent and very committed.
However the highlight was the Peña Flamenca El Almíbar in Cordoba. While the main part of the evening – a lecture about two styles of Solea (from Utrera and Lebrija) – left my Spanish far behind, at certain points the discussion became more heated and a couple of men who had left youth some way behind burst into song to illustrate their point. I have rarely heard singing like it. The two singers we later heard in Granada were rather pale by comparison.
It left me wanting to do greater justice to my song Andalucia (there’s an old version below) so Miguel and I plan to re-record it at some point. Many, many years ago my friend Gordon and I walked right across the Sierra Nevada – we took the bus from Granada and spent the first night in a simple refuge just under the summit of Veleta. The following day we bathed under a waterfall before following the Rio Lanjarón down the valley. We saw no-one else all day other than a goat herd who waved from the hills on the other side of the valley and spent the night in the open air of a pine forest. The following day we found we had taken the wrong path, so that rather than arriving in Lanjarón before the sun became too hot, we had to trek for hours as our water ran out. Fortunately, we made it before sunstroke set in. This time we contented ourselves with an afternoon walking up the valley of the Rio Darro – the views were still remarkable.