My mother turned 87 on Monday. When my dad died, ten years ago, even though she had never been there, she had harboured the thought that she would like to go away, up the Cape West Coast, to what was still the quiet fishing village of Paternoster, to walk on the beach and listen to the waves and the cry of the gulls and think.
So this weekend past, ten years later, Rob and I helped her fulfil her wish. We spent the weekend away, in a cosy AirBnB, and dined out at The Noisy Oyster (fabulous) and had lunch at Gaaitjie, tucked away in a small cove, just above the beach (wonderful) and made a fire in the evening on the patio on Sunday when the weather grew cool.
It was everything, she said, that she had dreamed it would be.
As with the other pueblos blancos we visited, Ronda, with its cobbled narrow streets, its whitewashed walls, its tiled roofs, its plazas and churches, its sun-soaked vistas, lends itself both to colour photography and to black and white.
Partly it’s a matter of taste and preference; more importantly, it’s a choice of expression. These images, for instance, worked just fine in colour, but in black and white have something quite different to say to us – or to me, at least.
Following on from my previous post, here are two colour interpretations of the Plaza de Toros in Ronda. In contrast with the drama and rawness of the black and white image, I’ve softened the tones, and emphasised the pillars and the curve and flow of the structure to give a different sense of the enclosure and what it means, or might mean, to those who come here for an afternoon’s entertainment.
I wrote in an earlier post that the decision to present an image in colour or in black-and-white was partly, perhaps, a matter of taste and preference, but more profoundly, a question of interpretation.
Here are two otherwise identical images of the Plaza de Toros – the bull-ring – in Ronda, which illustrate the point. Which do you prefer – and more importantly, why?
Ronda, perhaps the most famed and loveliest of Andalucia’s pueblos blancos, sits atop a massive cliff, rising sheer from the valley floor a hundred metres or more below. The old (read, Moorish) and new parts of the town are cleft in two by the Tajo Gorge, crossed, as I noted in my previous post, by the not-so-new, 18th century Puente Nuevo.
‘Spectacular’ is a word which has been rubbed dry of its meaning through overuse and repetition, yet it is really the only word to use of the vistas that open before and beneath you, when you gaze out from Ronda’s parapet, across a sea of rolling hills and olive groves and distant, tiny buildings, like small ships on a heaving ocean.
Puente Nuevo, the ‘new’ bridge, dates to the 18th-century and spans the 100m-deep Tajo Gorge, connecting the old and new parts of Ronda.
Ronda was a surprise: approaching up a steep hill, and entering the town through drab, less-than-interesting neighbourhoods, we wondered if we had made a mistake, booking for two nights. We checked into our hotel, headed out to explore, and immediately fell in love.
Indeed, Ronda quickly became one of our favourite towns in all of Andalucia, and we would happily have stayed for several days more.
We came across this tapas bar near the City Hall in Sevilla one evening, liked what we saw, went inside, and liked it so much we came back the next evening. It must have been someone’s birthday – there was a celebratory group of people, laughing, drinking, singing, clapping, and the whole scene, the ambience, the joyousness, was quite lovely and quite mesmerising.