JUST about every travel guide I have read on Spain or the Costa Blanca has left me flummoxed and frustrated when it comes to Moraira.
Indeed, almost every entry I’ve found so far has been short and somewhat disappointing.
‘This once sleepy fishing hamlet…’ they normally begin, before listing a couple of beaches.
Even the photo they choose is normally the same: A row of houses with front doors opening onto the beach. From there it’s all downhill. A charming town, family orientated, stunning beaches, spectacular cliffs, etc, etc.
All true. All fact. All correctly written and all just missing the proverbial bullseye. Not to mention that some travel writer back in the aeons of time didn’t copyright his ‘sleepy fishing hamlet’ piece.
All in all, these articles have reduced Moraira to any ex-pueblo anywhere on the Med and that’s a shame because anyone who lives nearby will know Moraira clearly isn’t.
She is royalty. Named for a princess no less, one Ira the Moor or so legend has it.
Moraira surely deserves a better write-up when writers such as Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn spent summers here, or our own seminal crime novelist Chester Himes chose to end his days here.
They surely didn’t struggle to find the right words to do this charming area justice?
What makes Moraira special may be too ethereal to capture and lock onto a page but when asked people have their own ideas.
It’s the sunshine, the air quality, the food, the traditions and, often, the local people. And generally they all love the lifestyle and its slow easy pace.
Everyone has an opinion. But what makes the place special is subjective and personal even if there are common similarities. Everyone has their own Moraira.
My Moraira isn’t down at the seafront. It’s tucked away in a patch of fallow field way past the vines at the back of the big carpark.
It’s an orange tree and to steal a phrase; it’s an orange tree standing ‘where no orange tree has the right to be’. Except it does. However it got there it has more right to be there than you or me. Head up into the hills right now and, after weeks of rain, the valley sweeping down from Benitachell to Moraira is swathed in layer after layer of vibrant greens.
As she stretches herself out reaching for the stars at the Punta del la Estrella, Moraira spoons protected against Cap d’Or cradled in a rich green velvet blanket. Our princess is recumbent.
My Moraira isn’t blue skies and seas. My Moraira has burst into new life with every possible shade of green that shimmers and changes by the hour and standing defiantly in its midst is my orange tree.
No one can doubt the changes it has seen. Like so many other Spanish towns, Moraira has transformed in living memory.
Some argue such progress has not always been for the good when small hamlets and towns have to work hard to protect their heritage and identities – that’s the very uniqueness that makes them special too.
Although clearly such radical changes have been good for tourism and therefore the economy, one could make the case that once you’ve seen one seafront promenade, you’ve seen them all, but then, to steal another quote, how else is a girl to make her way in this world?
Not so for Moraira, although with rumours of a smugglers’ tunnel under the castle, she could still be a lady with darker secrets.
This is the little town that could and did, and she did it on her own terms.
Visitor numbers bear testament to that. No harmonised pavements for her. Her terrain simply won’t allow it. No high-rise hotels or endless concrete apartment blocks either. She won’t be coerced into being man made.
She’s an au naturel beauty standing proud because someone had the cojones to stand up and say no to more progress.
This may be legend too of course, but I was told this was the farmer who owns the vines and the land my free-range orange tree has claimed as its own.
Amanda Bourne (pictured above) runs Polly’s Bookshop in Moraira, while her son runs a sister shop in Javea.
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