I stayed in a beach hut, at least it was advertised as a beach hut. The advertisers were spot on the money with ‘hut’ and much less so with ‘beach’. It is fair to say that you could see the coast, although it was from a substantial distance. It was undeniably a stretch to call it a beach hut and that stretch was the winding hilltop drive from the coast to a rocky summit. False advertising, though this clearly was, I wasn’t disappointed, because, as it turned out, this was exactly what I needed.
If the advertiser had been more honest they would have described it more as a Scandinavian, self-contained, eco-cabin. I am told the design had won prizes at a show in Northern Europe before being packed up and shipped down for re-assembly on the coast of Tarifa. I didn’t doubt it. The cabin was a considered one storey square enclosing a small central courtyard. A combination of gas canisters and solar power provided the cabin’s only energy. Raised decking advanced out towards the distant sea providing a welcome platform for enjoying view, the sun, and providing great space for relaxing in the evening.
It was on the decking that I started every morning by working through Sil Lim tao, my Wing Chun first form. I’d then do some Yoga before breakfast. International relations, London and a crowded exercise regime take a toll. The sun and air of Tarifa did much to settle that; my first Sifu told me that there were two environments most beneficial to Chi, the Chinese term for life force, the mountains and the sea. I’d obtained the latter, and hinted at the former with my slight hilltop elevation, and it didn’t feel at all bad.
I was at the tip of Southern Spain and the wind was fierce. The ferocity of the wind discourages many. The region therefore benefits from its relative unpopularity. While the coastlines of the Spanish East Coast are teeming with unsympathetic modern developments, Tarifa remains largely untainted.
It was the perfect retreat. I was enjoyably isolated. I had the sun and the Spanish food. I basked in it. I was fortunate enough to live in Italy for two years. There is something indefinably nurturing about the Mediterranean. This is not lost in Tarifa, even at the cusp of the Mediterranean’s influence; the effect was still almost palpable. I found myself relaxing into its embrace. London offers much in the way of stimulus and little in the way of nurture.
Tarifa relaxed by knotted muscles and recapped my broken sleep. After a week of this, I was reluctant to throw myself back into the fray. It is the perfect environment to unwind. It was the Yin to London’s Yang. It balanced the equation. Maybe one day I can have a Mediterranean cabin of my own to retreat to; beach or hill, I now know that I couldn’t be disappointed.