5th August 2021
Cadiz, Spain – Isla Culatra, Portugal
Capital cities always have a rich history, are full of vibrancy and offer sights that take your breath away; on the downside they are also known for their crime and unfriendly people. Cadiz could be the capital of Spain (if it could only find some unfriendly people) and Faro could take the top spot in Portugal (if it could only increase its crime rate).
Before we could get on with the fun of exploring the history, vibrancy and sights of Cadiz there was organisation to do. We’d successfully made our way thought Orca alley so were now sure that Ruffian would arrive in Portimão unscathed and ready for some TLC ashore, but to be ready painters had to be lined up, engineers confirmed, kit ordered and most importantly for everyone, funds transferred.
Iain thought he’d left the days of sending hundreds of emails* and balancing spreadsheets behind in the corporate world, but he was clearly mistaken. He did however know that tomorrow, unlike in the corporate world where there would be yet more emails, he’d have a fun filled day exploring history, culture and sights.
Retiring Brock and taking to the toylike Thug we ventured into the big city with Song Bird where the history and culture was laid bare. We explored parks full of graves from every age and happened across Roman aqueducts, but top among the bizarre sights was the thinnest street in Cadiz that was an age old site for illicit rendezvous.
Waving goodbye to Song Bird we still had the vibrancy of Cadiz to experience. While they sailed away vendors setup a clothing street market that ran for miles and miles. From Ruffian we could hear the chatter of women hunting for bargains and then we were in it. The market was a like nothing we’d seen before. It was as if someone had taken the questionable quality of Primark, mixed it with the randomness of a jumble sale and then added the freneticism of the Spanish temperament. Quite how any of these lovely chatty charming people found anything that fitted, anything that suited them or even a pair of anything was beyond us.
Leaving the commercialisation of Cadiz behind us, after a night at sea, we once again found ourselves on the desert island of Culatra, but this time the call wasn’t the beach, it was what could have been that Capitol of Portugal, Faro (if it weren’t for its ludicrously low crime rate)..
Faro sits in the northern part of Ria Formosa and Ruffian was anchored way to the south, so getting there was going to involve a full of dinghy ride in Brock. Winding big Brocks big engine up we were amazed at how quickly the miles flew by at 20knots and then there we were in the centre of the city.
Faro had relics from all eras of history, from the mosaics of the Romans to tiled walls of the Renaissance, and from gold encrusted Christian churches to the Moorish walls of the city, but all these relics were nothing compared to those found behind the cathedral.
Entering a tiny chapel eyes were upon us. From every wall, alcove and the ceiling we were stared at by the vacant eye sockets of skulls. 1200 skulls and the bones of 5000 bodies surrounded us in the most morbid exhibition of double standards we’d ever witnessed. Instead of being laid to rest for eternity all these poor souls had been dug up by the friars of yester year and were now preserved to be gawped at by all and sundry. It would seem that the friars absolute power corrupts and power corrupts absolutely.
Leaving Faro far behind Brock once again transported us at light speed through the lagoon and back to Ruffian. As we entered the boat Iain enquired as to where Fiona’s camera was and it dawned on us that it could only be in one place. Back in Faro**.
With little hope Brock once again blasted along and we started retracing our steps. Knocking on the door of a closed museum Iain was surprised that the door was answered, more surprised still that they thought they could help and was completely aghast when the camera was placed in his hands. Not only had some kindly soul handed it in, but word had been spread just waiting for our return. With honesty like this Faro was far from being a capitol city.
* A massive thanks have to be sent to the legendary Ken and Judith (the old custodians of Ruffian) for their extraordinary memories in everything to do with the fine ship.
** After all this toing and froing Brock motored far enough to cross the English channel, and a little bit more!
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