Flamenco Sketches: Day 4

22 Jun

It may have come rather too soon, but 9am I greet like Christmas Day aged seven. I know I’m going to love La Mezquita as I did the Alhambra in Granada but I’m still nervous like on a first date. I know how it looks but not how it will speak to me nor if we’ll look good together. After a quick churros breakfast, we hurry to the Mezquita.

Like a football match, I’m waiting for the crowd’s roar from around the corner but we enter through a small portal to instead find tranquility immediately. It feels like a city on its own. There’s a colonnade around all four sides and in the centre orange trees irrigated by sunken channels that bring water from the mountains, and on the far side stands the Mezquita itself. We buy our tickets and enter.

856 columns survive in the prayer hall of the Mosque

Inside, the mosque is still prominent around the exterior walls with its 856 of the original 1,270 columns supporting the roof. Centrally stands the opulent cathedral nave with its gilt work, very Spanish iconography and magnificent wood carving. But beside the main altar sits a reminder of a more recent and violant past, a plaque remembering the local religious who lost their lives in the Civil War, or the Persecution as the inscriber chooses to call it. That war was tragic and it is only in recent years, long after its end in 1939 and even Franco’s death in 1975, that one can say modern Spain declares the Republicans as the victors but at a tragic cost. Meanwhile, an elderly lady in a fully elevated mantilla proceeds along a red carpet to a wedding in a side chapel and any sense of the present day merges with the past temporarily.

 
I sense that Paul the Greek and Chris the DJ are restless to leave and we exit back to eat in the shade outside our hotel. We find a table and sit down far away from the wall-mounted TV spitting out bad House music but right next to five guys jamming with Spanish guitars. Has this all been staged for me? No, this is just what can happen when one ventures inland toward the real Spain.

 
We pay for the delicious lunch and are escorted by the hostal concierge back to their car park. Facing us inside is a 1950s Austin A40 completely covered in fine sand and dust. Did it belong to a Brit who also fell in love with Spain and never went back? If so, good man yerself.

 
Within minutes, we’re on the motorway back to the coast and I resolve to return to Cordoba to see the rest. Not too many orange groves flash past before the Dub Organiser and I draw our iPods out and begin a musical ping pong. El Greco’s hands tapping on the steering wheel vary in intensity according  to our musical choices and I’m resigned to defeat when my Duke Ellington’s Take The A Train live version is trumped by Chris and Phyllis Dillon’s reggae version of Perfidia.

Paella at Papa O’s. We had only just begun.

We hit the coast and the back of the beach in readiness for a fish feast at Papa O’s. Our party is once again reunited and, again, we celebrate the human spirit. My eyes have had too much to feast upon in this past day and now the table creaks with piscatorial delights. Tomorrow I fly back to London, the world’s greatest city, lighter in weight despite the many great meals, for I’ve left a part of me in Cordoba that has no mass, only missed heartbeats and a longing for our next date.

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3 Responses to “Flamenco Sketches: Day 4”

  1. Dub Organiser 18 June 24, 2012 at UTC 9:18 am #

    Lovely writing, very evocative……. and here’s the rocksteady cut of Miles’ ‘Flamenco Sketches’….

  2. Suzie 28 July 15, 2012 at UTC 10:28 pm #

    Wish I was there, you describe it so well. I think I need a hot date with that paella.
    When am I going to meet Tony two dinners. I feel like i know him, we are old friends.
    Viva Espana

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