The smell of the sea. The Atlantic on the one side, the Mediterranean sea on the other. Surfers, flowers, dunes, dolphins, whales. Helicopters flying over the sea at night, scanning the dark waters with bright lights. Deserted tapa bars. Fishermen. Palm trees. Welcome to Tarifa.
I’ve never heard of this town before. We have seen a small spot at the southern point of continental Europe on the map, a name written in small letters: Tarifa.
Driving from Gibraltar to Tarifa. Rough green mountains, windmills, heavy clouds, fog, and the sea right below, calm in her blue-gray colours.
Tarifa is small, flat, provincial, calm. Locals in the cafés and the restaurants, some German tourists already wandering at the small alleys. Walking to the long beach of the Atlantic after the sun has set, breathing the ocean. Cold wind, cold sand. Wet toes, waves, dogs running around in their evening walk.
Next to the beach, this graffiti: on the one side the surfer, on the other a migrant. Leisure and necessity painted in black paint. The same sea. Home for some, grave to others. Here, in Greece, in Italy, the migration crisis is not another title in the newspapers. It’s real and cuts like a blade.
Reaching the small Castillo, the Atlantic on the right side, the Mediterranean on the left. The smell of rotting sea weed. Salt. Seagulls. Sand in our shoes. Swallows. Drizzle. Food at a small restaurant in the old city, the waiters forced to wear aprons looking like flamenco skirts.
We took the boat to watch dolphins and whales the next morning. Jumping next to us, playing, showing off. Mothers swimming side by side with their calves. Whales coming around too, their heavy tails showing when they dived down. Hearing how dolphins suffer and die by hundreds in aquariums and water parks from the speakers, in four different languages. Whishing we could jump in the sea and play with them. The shores of Africa getting closer, towns and white houses, ports and green hills. So close and so far away.
On the way to Cádiz later on, a detour. Driving among huge dunes of sand in a surreal scenery. Bursting out laughing when the dunes got huge and raised meters above the street, above the car, above us.
The feeling of a desert, after a burst of life.