I´m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions but a debilitating bout of flu throughout Christmas that took me out of action right up to New Year’s Day, made me yearn to have my health back and I resolved to improve my overall fitness and wellbeing this year with a daily cycle ride along Marbella Town’s 8 km stretch of beachfront promenade.
This is a resolution that’s been very easy to keep. When I inherited my bike from a friend last October, it had been 15 years since I’d last owned one. Propped up in my entrance hall for a swift no-excuses exit, I have rediscovered the joy of cycling and have become healthily addicted to that delicious feeling of freedom it brings me as I freewheel along the promenade in all weathers with the sea air swirling about me…
One of my favourite shorter cycle rides is to Marbella Town’s Fishing Port, heading east from the Leisure Harbour. Just under 2 km away, what used to take me 25 minutes to walk one way, has been cut down to a 10 minute cycle.
Whenever I feel like blowing away the cobwebs, I just jump on my bike and off I go. I would probably balk at the idea of a walk there on a fresh, blustery morning, but now, there’s nothing more invigorating than a bundled up cycle to Marbella Town’s fishing port, the waves crashing and spitting on the rocks by my side along the way.
Best of all, is pedalling round the corner into the last stretch leading to the fishing port quayside after a good night´s sardine and anchovy catch, to be greeted by the sounds of squabbling, squawking seagulls hovering over the fish market dock in the hope of an easy meal and cycling through an exhilarating concoction of ocean smells – the intriguing scent of the deep sea wafting up from the drying nets and the swirling tangy, fishy, salty sea air with an underlying hint of boat diesel…
At quieter times of the day, or on a Sunday when there is no activity, I like to cycle right up to the breakwater at the port entrance and just observe and take photos of the fabulous ever-changing seascapes that unfold before me.
On sunnier days, I also try to schedule in an earlier morning cycle and stop off for a coffee and a mackerel roll at the port bar “Los Pescadores” for a catch up with Juan the owner and some of the morning regulars who gather there while they’re waiting to assist the boats that come in from a night out at sea – and who I have slowly got to know over the past few months since writing my first blog post covering Marbella’s fishing port.
One of them, the sprightly 77 year old Salvador, who first went out fishing on his father’s boat when he was only 8, is now a valued master net maker and mender. He has told me how he is there without fail every morning at 7am to meet his nephew’s boat and will sit on the quayside mending the nets in all weathers, if any snags or tears are detected after the catch has been unloaded. A couple of Sunday’s ago, I was on my way back from the fishing port mid-afternoon, when, cycling past the row of fishermen’s storerooms/workshops, I heard someone call out my name.
It was Salvador, sitting on a large upturned paint pot in his workshop, making what I understood to be the outer thicker-roped weighted net for catching sardines. This was a long and arduous task he said, as his nimble fingers weaved and stitched away with the expertise and dexterity of a seasoned knitter. The net was heavy and the work made his fingertips bleed after a while, so he could only go on as long as he could, although he tried to put in about 4 hours a day, he explained stoically, as he paused to take a sip of beer. The pride he takes in his work is palpable and I am full of admiration for those in this noble profession. It is not an easy life. If there’s no catch, there’s no cash and many of the younger generation of Marbella’s original fishing families have turned their back on this way of life.
On the cycle ride home, I often stop to say hello to Paco “The Birdman”. If you happen to pass by mid-morning on a sunny day, he can be seen sitting on a chair at this doorstep decorated by his chirping “children” who perch all over him like multi-coloured gaudy brooches. Knowing my wariness of birds, he delights in placing as many of them as will perch on me whenever I pass by.
There are various places along and near Marbella Town’s beachfront promenade that rent out bicycles, so I do hope that this post will inspire you to reconnect to your inner cyclist and freewheel to Marbella’s fishing port on a blustery day. And, as the recently departed David Bowie sang: “Let the wind blow through your heart”.
(Photos and text: Liz Glazer)