ghost town to tarifa.

Zahara de los Atunes was no more populated the next morning. The same dudes who yesterday had been outside hammering and sawing and sanding and otherwise preparing hotels and restaurants for being open for the season were still hammering and sawing and etc. The same one hotel that had been open for beer and potato salad before dinner yesterday was also apparently open for coffee and cigarettes this morning. I made an executive decision and decided executively that we would forego that shit and instead I walked to the Dia for a little bread and butter and blueberry jam.

Which was kind of like breakfast but on the way out of town we decided that coffee really would be a good idea after all and stopped back at the place we'd had dinner at last night, which wasn't open but they let us in and made us coffee anyway. This is how you run a restaurant btw.

Then a brief look at the beach, after which the idea was to drive to a mall near Estepona on the way to the airport in Málaga, Our flight wasn't til 9pm, Nelson desperately needed clo-thes, and I myself desperately needed a new pair of jeans that didn't look retarded (which, amazingly, I found, and bought), but around Tarifa we started getting dangerously hungry so it seemed wise to stop and do something about it. Plus it seemed like we might find something vegetarian since Tarifa is known as one of the windsurfing capitals of the world, and as we all know, surfers love vegetables (?).

That was the thinking anyway, and it proved to be totally correct. Not only that, but Tarifa was totally charming and exotic, a bit like a safe-feeling Tangier. Well, being in Tarifa put Tangier on our minds anyway, since that's where we took the boat to Tangier from last year, but the two were somehow very similar in layout and feel. Very difficult to have any idea where you were going, but here you didn't feel like being lost was a total liability. Anyway, very cute and we were all "why have we not considered coming here before."

TripAdvisor steered us toward Chilimosa, a name which sounds like a crappy suburban Mexican place in Wisconsin, but turned out to be the right kind of hippie vegetarian joint, with really solid falafel and a curry that reminded me of my beloved Himalaya in Atlanta. Plus the right kind of no Wifi, a sign saying "no we don't have Wifi, please talk to to each other."

Then back in the car, to the mall, we split up to do shopping, I knocked mine out in like 15 minujos and then stopped at Beher for one last chorizo sandwich and a cup of coffee. Then the airport. Then a very turbulent flight and the bumpiest landing I've had in years (people screaming "I'm going to die", etc). Then a cab ride. Then a chat with Johnny D. Then a brief sleep. Then a long train ride. Then attempted recovery and reintegration.


heading south.

Above: view from the back yard in Ronda. Below: driving to Zahara de los Atunes, stopping along the way for a pee at a place called Venta de las Acacias, where I had a tapa of lomo con Pedro Ximenez cream sauce for €1.50. It's a crazy place, apparently only closed for 3 hours per day (and here's what most people eat there, glad I didn't know about it).

Then we somehow narrowly missed a giant storm and finally made it to Zahara de los Atunes to find that well we were the only people there. They're pretty much closed from November to April. I didn't even think to look because our restaurant's Facebook page kept saying "Open now" when I'd look at it, and heck, we'd had quite a hard time getting a room.

Yes, that was because none of the hotels were open either. Well two were. Ours, and one where you could drink a beer and play some cards. But in a town of 100 restaurants, maybe 10 were open: two pizza places, five seafood-centric tapas bars, probably something else, and then the place that I braved a serious Death Mope to get to. Arrocería Zokarrá.

They were open, we were the only people there, they even asked us what kind of music we wanted to hear. The food was about the best we could possibly have done that night I think: that's a tomato magically filled with burrata over quinoa, and a really tasty rice with payoyo, roasted vegetables and fried artichokes. I accidentally ordered nasi goreng in a pineapple. But everything tasted great and the hosts couldn't have been nicer.


tuesday morning.

Above: rain. Below: rain. Below that: "Oh hey, you have to have to taste the garbanzos at this place, they're the best, the ones with spinach and cumin....mmmmm", etc.

Below that: a very intense goat cheese on a disc of eggplant with possibly membrillo on top and balsamico drizzle, and one of Las Caballerias' two chickpea dishes, this is callos con garbanzos, the one full of tripe and kidneys and liver and who knows what else. Nelson even tasted it, and really wished she hadn't. Not pictured, acelgas con garbanzos, the one we were supposed to taste with spinach and cumin.

Below that: pure Nelson nostalgia at Pizzeria Michelangelo, where she's been more times than she can count, and everyone knows her as "La Holandesa". She said absolutely nothing has changed there in 15 years, and yes, I believe it. The waiter/owner knew her order before she did: pizza margherita with capers. It was a really good little pizza (€5.50).

Below that: a Seville orange I plucked from a tree, because they're everywhere and you wonder why no one is eating them. I tasted this gingerly as if it was going to shrivel my tongue off, but it just tasted like an orange.

nope, still winter.