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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.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice to hear about the other side of Marbella.

    February 8, 2012
  2. If a person was interested in buying a traditional, smallish property in a traditional area – how would they go about finding the property – assuming they were in England and wanted to make some initial enquiries?

    February 8, 2012
    • delacybrown #

      You only really get to know an area once you experience it. My advice would be not to rush into anything – go on holiday and get to know an area that way. Maybe go back a couple of times, and then you get to appreciate where the quieter, more traditional parts are and you have more opportunity to talk to people who know. But if you really want to immerse yourself in the traditional way of life/ neighbourhoods, I’d say knowing the language is probably a key factor, otherwise it’s difficult to completely cut ties from the expat community.

      February 8, 2012
  3. I agree with some of what you say but Marbella is really nothing like Puerto Banus. The marina in Marbella is still used by fisherman while Banus is, as you rightly say, for the botox-loving, name-dropping, publicity-seeking d-listers.

    I used to work for a magazine over here called Lifetimes and we ran a feature on you and your art last year, my colleague Dawn interviewed you, and I did the page layout featuring some of your work (which is great by the way!). How funny that I stumbled across this blog!

    March 1, 2012
    • delacybrown #

      Amazing coincidence! Well I’m so glad you’ve found me! I never actually saw that article you know – hope to get a copy from my agent one of these days! Good luck with your blog and please keep in touch with mine. Hope Marbella is beautiful as ever.

      March 2, 2012

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