Arcos gives crazy, mad sky. Dawn, rocks up at half 8. Yawn. Casual as you like. You were expecting me earlier? The sun eases off the horizon like a rock star showing up to a performance nursing a hang over. Get off my back. I was up late. Just relax. I got this. Then, ever so cooly, it proceeds to blow the doors off the heavens; sets the sky ablaze from east to west; conjures up hues that would give Valazquez fever dreams; bathes the plains, the lake, the condominiums, the effing hypermart in Gods Very Own One True Glory. Ahem, sorry just clearing my throat. See you all this evening for the real show. That’s the kind of sky Arcos gives.
Arcos de la Frontera. Arcos on the border, a Christian bulwark propped up against the Moors for not just a few years of war, but centuries of unending war. A chess piece. A pawn perfectly positioned. Unassailable. Perched on a clifftop and yet further secured by the river Guadalete which almost but not quite fully encircles it. Arcos de la Frontera, is not the type of place one takes lightly, in fact to the invading Moorish armies it was not the type of place to be taken at all.
To imagine an invading army fording the river, and then scaling one of the steep narrow paths to challenge the Castillo is to frame a picture in your mind of the most abject and humiliating of defeats. Arcos was from its very conception purposed to be so fantastically, absurdly, and utterly inhospitably positioned so as to leave the very notion of its conquest dismissed a priori.
Oh, so that’s Arcos? On a cliff to I see. Surrounded by a river I see. Streets half as narrow as your wife’s backside? Defenses afforded from every angle? Stocked to resist a siege for years? So, then, yes, moving on to the next town then are we?
Now, in the modern era, one might expect that the same bloody minded singularity of purpose that informed its construction would lead to something utterly inhospitable to modernity, something to be relegated firmly in the past: a Machu Micchu, Great Pyramid, or Alhambra, to be marveled upon by tourists as an artifact of a particular age, but certainly not the kind of place that anyone would ever call home.
Arcos is home, not only to a population of some thirty-thousand, but to Jacklyn and I. It’s the home we chose, of all the possible homes we might have chosen perusing the planet like a Chinese take out menu. And now that we’re here, it really is hard to imagine being anywhere else.