Society & Culture
in the Costa Tropical!
Bull fighting in Spain is still a huge tradition, although originally the sport started with the Greeks and Romans around the middle ages (711 A.D). It was an ancient diversion for the aristocracy of the times and was enacted on horseback. Over the years the elite sport died out due to King Felipe V thinking it was a bad example for the people and banning it around 1724. The lower class eventually continued the tradition with a few alterations.
Because they couldn’t afford horses the event now took place on foot with the men armed with an estoque (rapier or sword) and the muleta (cape). Today there is still much controversy over the tradition and some of the larger Spanish cities have are trying to ban it altogether.
If you are interested in attending a bull fight while visiting the area, you can still find the events all along the Spanish coast. The Costa Tropical has one bull ring in Motril and you can also check the nearby town of Malaga.
The Spanish people are very warm and charismatic, they are family-oriented and love children. Spain is one of the few places you can take children with you wherever you go and never have to worry about it being frowned upon. You will more often than not see Spanish families out for an evening, late into the night, with all their children in tow. The Spanish are night owls, the kids included. Everywhere you go, men and women of all ages will take an interest in your children and engage and talk with them. It’s a very endearing quality to see such care taken of the younger generation.
Because the Spanish are so family-oriented, and kid loving, weddings are also a big deal here. The celebrations are usually very big and loud and last well into the night. You can expect most of the extended family or even the entire village to attend.
Traditionally, before the ceremony, the groom gifts his bride with 13 coins, signifying his intention to support and care for her. The bride then carries the coins with her down the aisle. Nowadays, the significance has slightly changed to represent the wealth the couple will share together in marriage.
Typically, weddings start in the evening with a religious ceremony at the church. After the couple is announced they leave the church showered by rice and flower petals and often the sound of loud crackeling fireworks! Then the dancing and music begins. It is not customary in Spain to have bridesmaids or groomsmen, so at the reception, instead of a table for the whole wedding party, the bride and groom share a table with both of their parents. While the guests eat, the couple will generally pass around favors, speak with family and friends and collect gifts.
In Spain, men and women wear their wedding rings (alianzas) are their right hands.
The definition of siesta is “a short nap taken in the afternoon usually after the mid day meal.” This tradition still takes place today throughout much of Spain and definitely the Costa Tropical. You will find that most businesses will shut their doors around 2:00 pm and remain closed until around 5:30 or 6:00. This happens every day and is something that you must plan around in order to not get stuck without food or necessities. You must also plan your museum visits and tours around this as well as ALL local businesses will shut down, museums, castles, retail stores, service businesses, etc.
The larger grocery chains have been remaining opened during siesta over the last few years, so you will have a chance to shop. Keep in mind that these groceries will be the only thing opened during this time and will more than likely be packed. Most of the smaller supermarkets will be closed. The best thing to do during the siesta hours is just that, siesta, relax, enjoy the beaches and warm air, have a good meal and take a nap…
The Spanish language is a beautiful one and different dialects exist all over the country. Andalucian Spanish, which is spoken in the Costa Tropical, is very distinct. One thing you will notice, as a foreigner, is that Andalucian Spanish is much harder to understand than the clearer spanish spoken in larger cities like Madrid. The natives here tend to “eat” their words, which basically means they drop the endings and speak very fast. For instance, instead of saying “dos” (two), they might pronounce it as ‘do-h’, thereby dropping the ‘s’. You can imagine how hard this makes it to understand what is being said when it is being said very quickly.
Luckily the Andalucian people are also very patient and love when a foreigner tries to speak with them in their language. You will find that most people are used to foreigners with accents and will try to help as much as they can. Unfortunately, English is not spoken by most of the locals here. This means a rudimentary level of Spanish is very helpful. There are many Spanish language schools in the area if you would like to polish up a little. Most offer great deals, with a language class and an additional local activity like diving or sailing. What better way to learn the language than to have fun while doing it!
The Architecture in the Costa Tropical has been greatly influenced by the moors that ruled the area for over 800 years. Unlike some of the styles you will see in other parts of the country, Andalucian towns can generally be described as white washed villages with narrow winding streets. Most towns are nestled into a hillside or safely tucked into the shadow of an impressive castle. The homes are white with terracotta colored tile roofs and usually ornamented with many pots of mulit-colored flowers and cacti. Gardens are another important part of the historical architecture of the area, you will find beautifully maintained gardens everywhere overflowing with palm trees, flowers, cactus and Moorish style fountains. A great place to see Andalucian architecture at its most splendid is at the Alhambra in Granada. Just a 45 minute drive from the Costa Tropical, the Alhambra is worth an entire days visit.
One wonderful tradition practiced by the Spanish people is “tapas”. Tapas are little appetizers that are given out with each drink that is ordered in a local bar. They are given this name from the Spanish word “tapar” which means “to cover”. Traditionally the waiter will serve the tapas on a small plate, on top of and covering the wine glass or other drink that is served to you.
One fun thing to do while visiting the area is to enjoy the local tapas. The Spanish are night owls and love to party. Most enjoy going out for the night with friends and heading to the local tapas bars for drinks. You can make a night out of it by exploring many of the tapas bars and tasting their offerings, they will each serve something different and delightful.
Flamenco is a very Spanish tradition and is practiced all over Spain, but nowhere like in Andalucia.
The Costa Tropical, like the rest of Andalucia, is a place of passion, color and music. Flamenco is an art form and is deeply entrenched in the lives of the Andalucian people. Young girls are dressed up in the beautiful fabrics of the dance from a very early age. By adolescence, most are very well versed in the practice. It consists of three parts el cante (the song), el baile (the dance) and la guitarra (the guitar). It is an amazing performance to watch and one we highly recommend you enjoy while you are here.
A few of the local bars have a night of flamenco each week where you can come, taste the local cuisine and enjoy the music and dance while you eat.