Surrounded by salt marshes on the edge of the Bay of Cadiz, San Fernando is known to its inhabitants as La Isla, the Island, a place whose character has been shaped by the ever-present ocean. It is also one of the best places for an encounter with the very soul of Andalusia, for it is the birthplace of one of flamencos greatest legends: the late Jose Monge, who in a short but brilliant career revolutionised the art of flamenco under his stage name, Camaron de la Isla.
Encounter a flamenco legend, tour wildlife-rich salt marshes by jet ski, and enjoy a luxury holiday on the Cadiz coast.
The corners of San Fernando connected to his life have become places of pilgrimage: the humble house where he lived; the iron smithy where he worked as a child with his brothers and where he first started singing to the staccato rhythm of hammer beating on anvil; Venta de Vargas, the inn where as a young street urchin he would earn a few pesetas entertaining the patrons with his singing; the Peña Camaron de la Isla flamenco club, whose members keep alive his memory with regular performances.
For centuries the Marismas salt marshes, the enormous jigsaw puzzle of ponds, channels and fingers of seawater surrounding San Fernando, was a major source of sea salt. Today, many of the salt ponds have been transformed into fish farms, producing prawns, sea bass and bream, but there are still a few traditional salt works where you can learn about the ancient process. At one of them, Salina San Vicente, visitors can also enjoy a meal of fresh fish which are trapped in the ponds with the ebb and flow of the tides.
Aside from a wealth of marine life, the Marismas is home to numerous bird species and is now protected as a 24,000-acre nature park. Visitors can explore the very depths of this natural world by jet ski, on a unique excursion offered by the Natural Park Tours company, based in the Sancti Petri sports harbour. The jet skis have been specially adapted to make them safe and environmentally friendly: they are virtually noiseless, they consume very little fuel, and are equipped with cruise control to prevent visitors disrupting the parks resident wildlife.
Nearest airport: Jerez (35 miles, 55 km)
MORE FEATURES FROM SOUTHERN SPAIN - HOME
Copyright © 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet - A Freelance Spain production
Comments, suggestions, questions, complaints? Drop us a line at [email protected]
Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet