The plan for today was – and still is – to spend a few hours reviewing my notes from the Spanish course that I completed during the last three months of 2014 at Reading College. I’m slowly getting a little better at coming up with the important bits of Spanish when they matter (hola, gracias, por favor and, alas, ¿hablas ingles?) but so many more are simply not there when I need them. Nothing too complicated – I’ll save the debates about the current political situation in Spain for the end of my four week course(!!) – just the everyday stuff that I do actually have written in my dedicated Spanish Moleskine notebook.
So what’s stopping me? Well, my month in Cádiz needs to be much more than a rapid climb up the Hispanic language ladder. It also needs to be a fitness boot camp for what I will be doing post Easter, i.e. cycle from Tarifa to Nordkapp. Despite a couple of outings on Reggie during my relatively short stay in Yorkshire during February, I’ve been off the bike on a regular basis since the start of last December when I stopped cycling to work in order than he could benefit from a good service courtesy of my long-standing bicycle repairer of choice, A.W. Cycles in Reading. Reggie, as you hopefully remember, is currently further up the coast in Estepona having arrived safely at my uncle’s house. He’s been rebuilt but I didn’t bring him to Cádiz as the logistics of doing so and keeping him secure would have been a little complicated. The upshot of all this inactivity is that I need to up my jogging and swimming regimes in preparation for the long cycle. With all this in mind, this morning I went for a run around the perimeter of the city. It’s a perfect place around which to do so with wide promenades next to the sea and a seemingly endless beach of impacted sand upon which to jog. Brilliant. I treated today’s outing as a test run to see where I could go and was probably out for around two hours of which I was running for perhaps one hour. I’ll try and repeat the running bit once every two days during the next five weeks. One of the women at the flat – a Dutch graphic designer called Kimberly – tells me there is a swimming pool next to department store El Cortes Ingles. I may see if I can find that later this afternoon.
The second prong of my fitness boot camp is to eat well and I’m doing that as well. Since my arrival the supermarkets have been closed but I’ve already found a cracking little fruit and vegetable place not far from the flat. The apple and orange were as fresh and juicy as you’d expect.
Most of the other people in Cádiz today don’t seem to be following my healthy example and are indulging in fag-end-of-carnival celebrations. Called ‘little carnival’ (it makes me wonder how big the ‘big’ one is) it seems to consist of groups of men and women dressed up in ridiculous (in a positive sense) costumes and singing. It’s all good fun. Most of the people thronging the streets are knocking back their beers in the expectation that it will be banned until Easter (that’s what carnival was all about in the first place I suppose) while drawing on their cigarettes in a way that has kind-of gone out of fashion back in the UK. It’s very noticeable indeed.
I couldn’t have wished for a nicer start to my period in Cádiz. I would describe my mental state as somewhere between ‘happy’ and ‘very happy’ despite the physical coldness and bareness of the flat. It’s a small whinge in the great scheme of things. But I can’t put off my Spanish revision anymore. It’s time to find a bar, open up my Moleskine and start practising. I’ll even indulge in a beer or two. Why not? It is ‘little carnival’ after all…