At least 7 years ago now, I WWOOFED in Andalucia, helping out with cleaning and cooking at an Andalucian B&B villa just outside of Vejer De La Frontera.The work was far from easy although I did happen to live in a mountainside cabin (cheap fibro, but yet still my own for a wee while). I loved the location and the cabin.
I will always remember the hillside cabin I stayed in fondly, even though there was a smelly compostable toilet that was infested with mosquitos, there was still a lot to love! There was a knarled vine of tomatoes growing around the deck area and dappled sunlight for most of the day, a cool breeze from the hillside and an immense sense of quiet and peaceful seclusion – it felt cozy and hidden away from the world.
A creepy and disconcerting part of staying here was the discovery that the guy I was working for had a bird’s eye view onto my outdoor shower from the window of the house far above. This contributed to my decision to hoof it post-haste on a ferry from nearby Tarifa to Morocco. And that was essentially like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire in terms of sexually aggressive male behaviour, but that’s a whole other story for another day. Morocco was also a really amazing place too.
A little history of the region
Conil de la Frontera is a locale that many consider a party town, but for locals who are mostly older, their town is staunchly religious and steeped in Moorish history which dates back before Phoenician and Roman times, when the ancient people used it as a fishing port.
In 1299, after the re-conquest from the Moors, King Fernando IV of Castille ceded the town, along with neighboring Chiclan, to Guzman El Bueno as a reward for defending Tarifa in 1292. The town in the dark ages flourished due to a booming fishing and agricultural industry. The lush rolling hills nearby were later utilised for livestock farming.
In the 19th Century, this part of Andalucia was occupied by Napoleon’s forces. Today the mainstay of the economy is still agriculture and fishing, although tourism is becoming increasingly important. Conil’s puerto pesquero (fishing port) is to the north, around the curve of the bay, next to the lighthouse.
Devoutly Catholic, Conil De La Fronter’s heartbeat and snail pace is punctuated by periods of activity on Catholic holidays for the saints. This is when the town wakes up out of a long and enjoyable slumber for fiestas involving Catholic effigies and rituals dating back to medieval times.
- Romeria de San Sebastian: The Sunday closest to 20 January.
- Spring feria: First week of June.
- Traditional seaside festivals: Noche de San Juan and Virgen del Carmen.
- Nuestra Señora de las Virtudes: 8 September, a celebration for the the town’s patron saint is celebrated.
- Los Pajaritos: 31 October.
- The tuna fishing is governed by an ancient almadraba system. The tuna season is April-June and July-August.
- Ruta del Atun de Almadraba (also celebrated in nearby towns of Zahara de los Atunes and Barbate): May/June. This is when many restaurants offer festive tuna dishes.
‘Slice of life’ portraitures of twin medieval cities and thriving ports Conil de la Frontera (top) and Xeres de la Frontera (bottom) twin cities on the Andalucian coast. Braun & Hogenberg, 1575-1612.