AS this is my first blog entry with The Olive Press, I will begin with a brief introduction of myself. My name is Troy and I am a native Yankee who has recently moved from Kerhonkson, New York to Jerez de la Frontera.
I have been placed in Jerez by the Spanish Ministry of Education, for whom I will complete a year as a teaching fellow at a secondary school.
This is my third stint in Spain, having studied at Universidad de Granada in 2009 and having spent this summer working as a guide for North American teenagers traveling the peninsula.
I am a recent university graduate, completing studies in English literature and Spanish with a focus on Federico Garcia Lorca in post-Franco media.
While outside of Spain, I am generally found reading about Spain, talking about Spain, writing about Spain, or watching Spanish football (Visca Barca). I have developed a love for and an addiction to the country and its culture that has rendered me relatively useless in all other environments and happy as a clam while I’m here.
This will be a topical blog on Jerez and the surrounding area.
Located just inland from Cadiz in the southwest corner of Andalucia, Jerez fits some 200,000 residents into a relatively compact urban area. Like many Andalucian cities, the center of town is a cluster of old historic buildings and attractive plazas. There is a large cathedral, an old Arab fortress, and various mosques turned churches turned mosques turned churches. The center also boasts a handful of sherry bodegas and wine taverns for which the city is famous.
There is a large gitano barrio in the western corner of the city, where the claps and cries of flamenco fill the winding streets. Outside of the center, a university zone buzzes just to the side of the football stadium. Further north, one finds a world-class motorcycle circuit as well as a small airport. Modern shopping centers flank the el centro to the west and what one might call urban sprawl sits downhill to the south.
Jerez is known internationally for its sherry, its motos, its equestrian school, and its flamenco. A city of festivals, it swells with visitors for the grape harvest festival in September, Festival de Jerez (flamenco) in late February through early March, Semana Santa at Easter, and Feria de Jerez (Horses) in early May. Moto enthusiasts flock to Jerez in early April for the World Championship competition.
Of course, I have only recently arrived and have barely skimmed the surface of all of this. The purpose of my time here in Jerez, and of this blog, will be to experience and relate the city first-hand, discovering the nuances beneath the blanket-descriptions of “horses, flamenco, wine, and motos.”
While I aspire to unlock each of these phenomena and festivals through research, interviews, and personal immersion, I will also look to sniff out those elements of Jerez that slip under the guidebook radar.
The blog will incorporate current events, local news, and features with cultural study and narrative. I’m very excited to get started on what I hope will be a year well spent and a blog well done.