Despite hundreds of years of invasions by the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Moors, Andalucía, at the southern end of Europe, remains a haven of peace and solitude today. In Marbella, where I live, the population of 140,000 people is multi-national and multi-cultural. The Spanish live harmoniously beside Germans and English, Swedes, Lebanese, French, Russian and Irish not to mention large numbers of residents from various African Countries, migrants from French Colonies in the neighbouring Continent.
Having lived in various Northern and Southern European countries and also in Asia, it is natural to make comparisons to other places where I have lived and worked. This I do regularly and often involuntarily (!), and inevitably Marbella and the Costa del Sol come out top of the list in my mental poll.
What is so special about Marbella and the Costa del Sol?
I am in love with the lifestyle that this unique part of the world offers me. With 300 days of sunshine on average per year, I can always turn my face to the sky-blue roof of my world and deeply inhale the light and the warmth of my adopted country. That warmth extends not only from the ubiquitous Sun but also from the people of Southern Spain who are amongst the most loving and giving that I have come across in my travels.
From the neighbourly gifting of chicken soup when you are ill to devoting time and energy, to guiding you through the quagmire of Spanish paperwork, to the spontaneous throwing of pool-side parties, it is rare in a modern day world to come across such a generous, giving people as the Southern Spanish. For those of us with families, Marbella is the gift that keeps on giving. From jumping in the pool for a quick swim before school to gathering beachside to play and swim with their friends after school to skating on the promenade in the lazy, long evenings in Summertime, to guzzling churros on Sunday mornings, our children must be amongst the happiest, least stressed kids in Europe. So our homes are warm, light-infused and sun-filled, our children are carefree and we are surrounded by the kindness and love of friends and neighbours. Where’s the downfall? Of course there are obstacles to overcome in all communities in every part of the world but when asked what is my favourite place to live, of all the places I´ve lived in my life? For me there´s no contest. Like the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Carthaginians, Romans and Moors before me, I can´t get enough of this place. Que viva Espana!
Guest post by Fiona O’Neill, owner of Cosmikos which helps building communities and bridges across borders to find parenting solutions, work/life balance, teaching and learning insights and health tips from around the globe.