“…anyone that knows Spain will be aware of the frequency of the marriage in which the wife is deeply pious and the husband is irreligious. This is indeed a fairly normal situation. The man’s sense of self-esteem conflicts sharply with the teachings of the Church, especially in the sexual field, while he is irritated by its many small, fussy rules and regulations, which treat him, he feels, as though he were a child.” – Gerald Brennan – ‘South From Granada‘
Once again it rained heavily in the night but by morning it had cleared when I went out into the street to check the weather. There were blue skies and as this was Sunday there was a church bell ringing and calling people to service and as I wandered aimlessly about checking the breakfast options in the little bars a crowd of nuns waddled across San Fernando Square on their way to the cathedral looking rather like a flock of penguins.
The only place open was the Plaza so we returned there for the fourth time and had the same breakfast as the previous day except that we ordered too much ham and ended up with far more than we really needed and a bigger bill than we expected. The bad news was that Micky had gone down with a nasty little case of man flu and he wasn’t feeling very good at all. This was the strain that affects the sense of humour and social skills and after breakfast Mick invited us to go out without him. Naturally we said we would do no such thing and then as we watched his normally stoic temperament evaporating in front of us he demanded firmly that we should go out without him and we took the hint.
We were planning to go for another drive out, possibly to the town of Ronda but this didn’t seem fair so the rest of us decided instead to stay and explore Carmona instead. We weren’t sure that there would be enough to do to keep us amused all day so we walked very slowly from the hotel towards the eastern gate of the old town, the Puerto de Córdoba which is of part Roman construction and because Carmona is built on an elevated ridge overlooking the central plain of Andalusia opens to a glorious view of the surrounding countryside as though standing on the prow of a ship.
The warmth of the sun was in contrast to the chilly shade of the street and we stayed a while and admired the view and warmed ourselves up before going back through the gate and climbing steadily towards the Alcázar Del Rey Don Pedro, which is an old castle at the top of the town that has been converted to a luxury Parador hotel. We went inside and admired the lounges and the restaurant and the stunning view from the balcony but it didn’t seem that they particularly welcomed non-paying guests so we left and carried on.
We walked around the southern rim of the town and there were more good views over the plain and we sat for a while and soaked up more weak sunshine that was struggling to get up to full late morning temperature. Our route took us now to the Alcázar de la Puerto de Sevilla, which was the western gate protecting the entrance to the old town and then we walked for a little way into the new town because I wanted to take the girls shopping but sadly on account of this being Sunday they were mostly closed and I was desperately disappointed about that as you can probably imagine.
There seemed to be strange goings on in the main town square because it was full of men just standing around and chatting in groups of ten or so and making an enormous din as they competed with each other to be heard about the great political issues of the day or yesterday’s football results perhaps.
Mostly elderly men because just as Gerald Brennan explained in ‘South from Granada’ “…almost every Spanish peasant becomes wise when he passes fifty.” This was obviously a Sunday morning ritual while wives attended Church and the street corners and the public squares were overflowing with men all in animated conversation waiting for the service to end. Brennan also explains that – “At bottom the husband almost always approves of his wife’s devoutness, is aware that he is only playing truant and that, after a lifetime shrugging his shoulders at the Church, he will return to it in time to receive its last sacraments.”
Back at the Puerto de Sevilla there was a sunny pavement with café tables so we stopped for a drink before going back to the hotel to see if there was any sign of Micky. While Christine and Sue looked for him Kim found a small shop that was open and we bought wine at 70c a litre and some cheap beer for later on. Micky wasn’t there but the scruffy dog was and Christine started to play with the thing and this unfortunately encouraged it to then join us as we continued our walk around the town, this time back to the Roman ruins about a kilometre away back in the same direction that we had just returned from.