Sunday, 6 April 2008

La Tramontana

Work has taken me to the Costa Brava for two weeks and although the timetable has been intense I’ve taken every opportunity to explore the area, as always from the point of view of a small boat sailor.Previously I’ve known this coast for windsurfing and for years regularly made the journey to Sant Pere Pescador or Sant Martí de Empuries to sail in famously nuclear conditions, but it had been a very long time since I’d been to Cap de Creus and Cadaqués.

The Tramontana has blown almost continually, comfortably reaching a force seven most days. The wind brings a remarkable raw beauty to the land and sea. The thrashing maquis gives up luxurious aromas of lavender, thyme and rosemary. The air is cool and clean, the sky a polished dome of flawless blue and the sun gilds the seas from shore to rim. All very pretty indeed.

Local lore, however, upholds that prolonged exposure to the wind gives rise to neurosis and apparently Cadaqués boasts the highest number of neurotics in Spain. Most of these seem to take up painting inspired, no doubt, by the cape’s most illustrious late denizen, Salvador Dalí and galleries chocker with quaint boating scenes abound.

Local councils are also keen to foster the surrealist image and giant eggs, loaves of bread and other surreal sculptures can be found distracting drivers on roundabouts throughout the region.

Cap de Creus is a natural park and it is pleasure to see an area of Spanish coastline that doesn’t have ugly developments crowding down to the water. Long sheltered bays and shallow coves providing protection from all quarters are liberally scattered about the coast making it a dream cruising area for the small boat sailor—so long as the Tramontana isn’t furiously hammering out of the north.

I spent some time at Port Ligat where Dalí’s house, surrounded by olive and cypress trees on three sides and open to the sea on the fourth, snuggles into the distinctive slate. Walking the shore where the great artist roamed and delighting in the landscape brought me strangely close to the man. Not to the point of seeing spindly-legged elephants tripping through the olive groves but enough to spend an hour inventing outlandish similes and metaphors while watching eddies on the water.

Some images in which the sea or boats feature in Dalí’s work.
In Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing a Grand Piano we see a typical llaut in the foregound.

Figure at a Window shows the bay at Port Ligat.
And The Ship shows a Tramontana sea.I imagine the wind played havoc with Dalí’s moustache.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice pics,...

is there any reason for writing "Cadaquez" instead of "Cadaques" which is the real name for this small village ?

Ben Crawshaw said...

It's a mistake, now corrected. Thanks