Some weeks ago, I went to Alicante but I didn’t get into the intricate details of my trip.
Today, I’m going to talk about my experience of Alicante, but not the activities. As I’ve said before in An Archive of Political Photography, everything I see brings out the political in me, so I’m getting into the good, the bad and the borderline racist.
Sustainability is much more of a thing there than here. More market-style fruit aisles in Mercadona, more paper shopping bags, more biodegradable packaging, more upcycled clothing (for good prices) – it was a dream. But gentrification of the city was evident. It was lovely, don’t get me wrong. But the closer you got to the beach and the shopping malls, the newer, the more expensive and the more upwards rather than outwards buildings became.
And oddly enough, I seem to be attractive in Alicante (can’t say the same for the Midlands, but it’s whatever), which led me to believe that not all European countries subscribe to the Eurocentric ideals of beauty (maybe there’s hope on the horizon? *tears*). It was similar to my hometown in the sense that I didn’t see many other black people during my 8 days because I’d booked my Airbnb away from the tourist areas. But when I was walking around, I was stopped by men and old ladies who were saying I was beautiful. I obviously didn’t understand them and told them that in Spanish, using google translate to get their response.
“Oh, sorry.” A man replied, “I just saw you and couldn’t go about my day without telling you that you are so pretty. Have a nice day.” and he carried on without making it weird.
It isn’t anything to be praised, actually. Men should just act that way anyways, but I never realised how rare it was for men to just carry on without making it weird until a man actually just carried on without making it weird.
Could you imagine a world where strangers just complimented you to give you a boost for the day and there weren’t any hidden agendas behind it?
My Airbnb host was like a mother to me. Her dog was so adorable and her apartment was lovely. She gave me different travel guides so that I’d have things to do, and even though she didn’t know a lick of English and the only Spanish I knew was from Dora the Explorer, we got on like a house on fire. But she gave me some advice, which led me to realise the harsh truth about this costal paradise.
“Be careful when you go to the beach.” She uttered through google translator, “There may be some racist people there who don’t like black people.”
I won’t lie, I was shocked. It almost put a downer on my holiday. But I went to the beach anyways, because mama didn’t raise no wimp.
At the beach, I mixed and mingled with people from all over the world – without speaking to people, I was able to get involved in ball games in the water, dance with people at the shore and just swim about. Whilst there weren’t many black people there indeed, I didn’t experience any racism and there were many POC there. But of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I was just a lucky case and as a 60 year old white woman who’s lived there for decades, my Airbnb host did not give me a biased warning or just say it as a light-hearted joke.
There was a diversity of body types too. No, I’m not talking about some “plus-sized” Spanish women with big boobs, big bums, big thighs and small waists. I’m talking stretch marks, cellulite, rolls, surgery scars and bulky arms all on show. People could wear bikinis (I wore a tankini) and feel unashamed.
“I don’t really know how I feel about Alicante. I don’t really know how I should feel about Alicante. But I do know that I don’t have any regrets.”