NORMALLY when we head into a New Year, my Social Media feeds are full of posts claiming ‘This will be my year’!, ‘Moving on up’! and many more of the same, all spouting the same feel good quotes like an Anthony Robbins video on badly cut speed.
Needless to say, most people were a little more guarded this time. Marbella was, quite bluntly, battered by 2020.
From the early days of the lockdown the mainstays of the local economy – bars, restaurants, hotels and luxury goods – were hit hard. Small businesses that make up much of Marbella’s atmospheric Old Town crashed through a seemingly non existent safety net and there is a real fear that many of them may never reopen.
For freelancers and small business owners, 2020 was the year that we wished we had taken our parents’ advice and got a sensible job at the bank. As the funcionarios went on furlough (including my friends that work on the dam above Marbella. Which takes the ‘working from home while monitoring water consumption’ thing to a whole new level) the independents were left to struggle. The lack of tourists from the UK, traditionally one of Marbella’s biggest markets, also had a huge impact. This, coupled with the uncertainties around ‘El Brexit’, convinced many Brits to pack up and move back.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that, despite our many differences, people can be unbelievingly kind. The actions of individuals and institutions, of charities and communities all along the coast, providing food and support to those who had nothing, was inspirational.
If 2020 proved anything, it proved that Marbella, once you brush aside the glam and the sham, is a real community that cares for everybody. Charity isn’t just some glitzy gala that you turn up to once a year, it’s the shopping bag of food or warm clothing that you drop off.
So although Marbella 2020 was the worst of times, it was also the best of times.
Here’s to 2021. Stay safe.