Marbella – Hidden wrinkles beneath the botox
Far beyond the ritzy media archetype of Marbella, with its fake-tanned, label-cluttered, Ferrari-filled Puerto Banus, and its marble clad town centre, complete with grand avenues and mature parks, high street shops and tourist information centres, is a town which resembles none of the glitzy, cosmopolitan manifestations of the media-managed Marbella. It’s a town which is emblematic of historical, culture-rich Spain, where the locals, many forced from their homes by rising house prices, or others packed into small dwellings with three generations of their families, continue living the life they have always lived, while all around them their town of Marbella has enjoyed its ascendency into the darling of the jet set. This is the Marbella which must endure the relentless hardship of the fishing industry to survive, locals who must live far out in the less than salubrious suburbs in order to stay in the town. Yet within these communities is a fun-loving, strong, proud spirit. Rather than being snubbed by a WAG in designer sunglasses, here you are greeted with a pleasant “Buenos Dias”, the locals still sit around outside their homes chatting at all hours, and families flock to the cheaper restaurants whose food is authentic and unpretentious.
As a part-time resident of Marbella for the last ten years, I have become disenfranchised with the town’s superficial identity. I loathe Puerto Banus, the media face of the town, whose geographical beauty is eclipsed by the pretentious tourists, begging for attention with their pursed glossy lips and frozen foreheads. I progressively find myself straying more and more into the Spanish communities, where the essence of Spain is still alive, where Marbella could be any other town in Andalucia, where the smell of garlic pervades the air and flamenco’s anguished cry wafts across the airwaves.
One such place is Cable Beach – it’s East out of Marbella, in the opposite direction from the Golden Mile, where the port is industrial rather than given over to pleasure, and fishermen still work, their cottages still intact having escaped demolition to make way for a hotel, and whose beach, so often deserted, is a wide, beautiful expanse of golden sand. In the photos which follow, I hoped to capture the beauty of this quieter, more authentic side of Marbella, and also include images of the outer suburbs, as well as the town in the aftermath of a recent storm – all views of the hidden, authentic town which thrives still in the shadows of the media glare.
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