This Sunday morning the group hit the Playa de la Victoria for another spot of surfing! This time with a twist - the surf boards came with a paddle. Students had clearly got the hang of balancing on the boards from the first surfing outing, and it was great fun learning not just how to keep up with the waves, but how to steer their boards across the unsteady water. After a couple of hours' surfing the students got to relax on the beach, going for a swim, digging holes in the sand, or just relaxing with a book. After a long, hot day exploring Ronda it was the perfect way to recharge some batteries.
Monday evening gave us the chance to explore more of the local history with a guided tour of the Puerta de Tierra, the 16th-Century gate that still serves as an entrance to the city. We walked up to the top of the tower where we caught a glimpse of the city's ancient past, as well as its industrial present with perfect views of the old quarter as well as its modern shipyards and the spectacular new bridge.
It was fascinating to learn about how the old wall once encapsulated the entire city of Cádiz to protect from foreign invaders, chiefly from Britain! Popularly believed to be the only gate that Napoleon could never cross, we learned how the wall was actually part of a series of structures separated by deep moats and defended by heavy artillery which can still be seen atop the gate. We also learned about its tragic role as a burial site for those who dared defy fascism during and after the Spanish Civil War.
Then it was time to wander down the coastline for some R&R on the beach before taking part in a flamenco guitar masterclass with local guitarist Alejandro Vázquez. Alejandro gave us the rundown on some of southern Spain's most famous musical styles, mixing between flamenco and rumba and even showing some local flair with some tanguillo and carnaval music typical of Cádiz. He even managed to mix in some bossa nova, jazz and classical guitar. With the demonstration over it was time for students to have a go themselves! Alejandro helped them get to grips with the guitar as they gave us their rendition of some slightly more familiar music, including Hotel California. They even tested their language skills with a performance of the pop phenomenon Despacito! With the vocal cords fully warmed up there was some time to relax by the beach and watch the sun go down before heading home to their host families.
Keep following the blog for some imminent news of some new arrivals, and our trip to a local amusement park!
Paul Hyland recently graduated with a PhD in Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of Cambridge. He also holds a first class degree in Spanish and German, as well as an MPhil in European Literature from the same institution.