On this day, we decided it was time to get out and do some sight-seeing, so we headed to Cadiz. The drive provided us a great view of the Bay of Cadiz and the bullring in el Puerto de Santa Maria, a neighboring town. The boulevard leading into old Cadiz reminded me of most grand boulevards you would find in American cities such as Chicago's State Street, New York's Fifth Avenue (the less upscale side), and New Orleans' Canal Street.
As an Urban Planner, I'm a junkie for places that have a healthy, as in well attended and utilized, outdoor life. The plaza square was brimming with people engaged in all sorts of activities - socializing at the outdoor cafes, skateboarding, walking dogs, painting portraits, proselitzying, etc. Having no map or a set list of things to see, we picked a direction and street, and walked. Much to our disappointment, we discovered that many of the shops were closed because it was Sunday. The most we could do was window shop. The few shops that were open were the ones that sell touristy junk, and I was determined to not bring any of that home.
There were so many
things I loved about walking down the narrow streets of Cadiz. First, there was the striking similarity to the New Orleans French Quarter. I've always known that the buildings in the Quarter featured Spanish architecture as they were built during the city's Spanish occupation. Many of these buildings still contain the Spanish street (Calle) name signs, although the streets were renamed when the French gained control of the city. It was really cool to actually see the same architecture in old world Spain.
Another thing I loved was that a turn down a narrow street led us to a pretty incredible sight - a large plaza with cafes, shops and an impressive mosque-like cathedral, aptly named the Cathedral of Cadiz. This building occupied almost an entire city block. The rear of the cathedral is bordered by an awesome view of the Bay of Cadiz.
We apparently underestimated the size of historic district of Cadiz. It seemed like every street we turned down led us to another plaza or church. For size comparisons, the New Orleans French Quarter is 10 square blocks. You can put about 3 of them inside of old Cadiz and still not cover all of
After walking around for what seemed like an eternity, we returned to one of the outdoor cafes in the main plaza for a light meal of Gazpacho (in simplest terms, cold tomato soup) and Huevos de Revueltos (scrambled eggs and vegetables). While there, we were accosted by a homeless woman who screamed (in Sprench - Spanish/French) "Black and white don't mix!" Being African American and used to racial intolerance/ignorance, my husband, cousin and I ignored her. However, my cousin's friend Cristina was offended and chose to engage this woman by replying "I'm not white, I'm Spanish!" Their exchange went on for several minutes before the woman finally walked off. Although no one actually gathered around, they did create somewhat of a scene. Cristina explained to us that woman was from Belgium, and that the Spanish are not intolerant like that. We told her about the complicated race matters we deal with in the States and why it's best to ignore people like that woman. I told her we "don't feed the trolls."
Despite that incident, the day was almost perfect. Almost. Just as we were approaching the Rota town limits, we spotted a "Policia" road block
up ahead. Guess who got pulled over? Yep, us. Thank God Cristina was with us to translate. The Policia were searching vehicles for drugs and weapons and asked my cousin for his ID and if they could search his trunk. We sort of thought that his military credentials would get him a pass in this, but apparently not. After finding nothing, we were sent on our way. Weird thing about that search was that the officer barely acknowleged me and my husband, both in the back seat. He never asked us to get out of the vehicle nor to search us. We could have been loaded with all sorts of illegal "goodies," and he wouldn't have been the wiser. Oh well. I'm still in amazement over this incident. Who would've thought that we would have a DWB (Driving While Black) experience in Europe? What are the odds?
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