Fuengirola, probably unfairly, is not always associated with the rich cultural history of Andalucía. Instead possibly, images of '70s apartment blocks and all inclusive hotels spring to mind. Yet this fishing village turned mid range holiday resort does maintain its traditions.
Last night we took in the spectacle of the Virgin del Carmen procession in the Los Boliches neighbourhood of the town. It has the feel of an Easter Holy Week procession, with the large icon of a Virgin Mary being carried aloft on a large wooden float or ‘trono’ by local men.
Yet on this date, it’s a fisherman’s tradition. The locals, dressed in sailor attire, carry the icon through the town, along the paseo and towards the shore, followed by a band of musicians. There she is taken out onto the sea, the men wading chest high in water and then positioning her on a boat, surrounded by a flotilla of sailing and fishing craft – it all ends with spectacular fire work display. This is the annual celebration, (every 16th of July), of ‘Nuestro Señora La Virgin del Carmen’ and is a familiar annual sight across the coast; but Fuengirola is probably one of the places where the whole affair attracts the greatest passion from ‘marineros’ or fishermen.
It also coincides with a feria in town too – a fun fair in the local feria ground, where we took in a concert from Vanessa Martin, a lyrical rock chick, born and raised in Fuengirola and now hitting the big time in Spain. Walking towards the stage at the back of the ‘recinto ferial’ we passed the kiosks, stands and games of the fair, the high speed rides, deafening music and noise, with the sweet smell of candies and roasted nuts filling the air.