‘The Manolo Experience’

Sweet seller

Picture taken by Alison Fearn

Manolo is a very common Spanish name that can also be used as a noun. The term ‘Manolos or Manolas’ started being used back in the early 19th century referring to low class Madrid citizens who distinguish themselves by their elaborate outfits and sense of style in dress and manners, as well as by their cheeky behaviour. The style stood in strong contrast to the French styles affected by many of the Spanish elite under the influence of the Enlightenment.

Also known as Majos and Majas, it was a recurrent subject for many artists. Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya, depicted both, standing out his ‘La Maja Vestida’ and ‘La Maja desnuda’. This second version of the model completely nude is renowned for the straightforward and unashamed gaze of the model towards the viewer.

Nowadays, the term is mainly used for those Spaniards who perpetuate a saucy attitude but not necessarily well dressed neither elegant in their manners.


Picture taken by Alison Fearn

This time around, Manolo, wasn’t a 19th century character, but a man that we bumped into on our way to San Sebastian Castle while on a one-to-one tuition photography course. He was taking a nap in the mayhem of beach supplies. Chairs, ‘gargaillos’ (gaditanian word for rubber shoes use for fishing), portable fridges, toys and so on, framed him and the contrast with the calmness he showed caught my eye. I stopped to take a picture and the shutter woke him up. To my surprise, instead of being annoyed he was kind and mellow. I explained him what we were doing and he immediately offered us a slice of the Tortilla (Spanish Omelette) he had prepared at 7 o’ clock am and a glass of ‘tinto de verano’ (the national summer drink- not Sangria).




Under the sun umbrella, Alison Fearn and I enjoyed what, from now on, I’ll call ’The Manolo Experience’. It is not uncommon to find such nice people on a common basis. Here in Cadiz, people are sweet and kind to foreigners. They are willing to enjoy and have a laugh. Due to their witty and loose attitude, every time you turn a corner, expect the unexpected. Incredible experiences may happen. Taking the time and following the mood makes the difference between visiting a city or experiencing the culture and the people of that city. When Manolos family arrived from their dip in the sea, laughter surrounded us as he joked about us being part of an international TV crew doing a reportage on him.



Thank you Manolo!!

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