Tarifa

It’s honestly like every legitimate surf town that I’ve been to in California, the side walks while driving into town where store after store of neon colored signs advertising wind surf equipment and lessons with Spaniards strutting around the streets like flamingos in bright board-shorts and flip-flops. Once off the bus we all rushed the bathrooms at the ferry station and scoured the horizon for what we were told was the Moroccan coastline. After our tour of the small white-washed streets we visited two of the older churches in town: one that was an old mosque and one that wasn’t, but there were many parts of the city that showed how the Arabic past was still very much present in today’s Catholic world: old water fountains, communal ovens, and baths. Around one of the puertas (doors) an old vendor gave all of us bags of cactus fruits, which tasted like the perfect combo of watermelon and kiwi with lots of seeds, quite refreshing on the hot day. The city of Tarifa has three doors into the city, and such is reflected in the city flag in the representation of the three keys. There is also a wall that signifies an old story that happened during the Reconquista about an Arabic king who was quarantined in the city and had the choice of surrendering to the Christians or they would kill his son, and the king threw the knife over the city wall and left it at that. Afterwards we drove to the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia on the beach; walking through the old cobblestone streets and amphitheaters you couldn’t help but imagine people going about their daily business there. From the ruins the turquoise water was sparkling and calling out towards the overheated tourists while a sparse and refreshing wind whispered tantalizing promises of the ocean close-by. Once at the beach we were all greeted by two wild donkeys and warm crystal clear olas, or waves. We all swam for hours in the Straight of Gibraltar and then dried off in the warm, almost African sun.

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