The Mujeres en las Veredas Association
Marbella. The name brings to mind images of long rambling beaches, rolling waves and mountains covered in lush vegetation. What could be more normal than going for a walk and exploring the area? For those who haven’t heard (which means they probably haven’t read a newspaper or watched the news in the last twenty years!), Marbella is a town that has experienced a uniquely devastating amount of construction that has eaten away at the surroundings. The result: a landscape littered with urbanizations.
Overlooking the city, La Concha and the Sierra Blanca mountain range of which it is a part have been all but forgotten. Many of the paths that should be a dream for adventurous tourists have been abandoned, replaced by litter and overgrown vegetation that make it virtually impossible to enjoy a simple, everyday walk.
In the beginning it was just four women working in their spare time to open up the footpaths in order to be able to use them. “We were taking a break at the viewpoint one day after a long days work and we realized that as individuals there wasn’t much we could do to ameliorate the situation. We wanted all this hard work to pay off and so we founded the association,” explains Navarro. Mujeres en las Veredas was born.
Since then their small army has grown to include children and men in their ranks. Born in 1944, Navarro is the oldest on the team. Their youngest member is three. Numbers fluctuate depending on the season and you’ll often find foreign residents getting stuck in. They are all united in a common purpose: to signpost and clear the paths throughout the southern slopes of Sierra Blanca.
Ever since their first appearance in the press the Mujeres en las Veredas have ignited the imagination of residents in the area. When he heard them in an interview, the environmental town councillor of Marbella Antonio Espada offered to give them tools and signposts to help with their project. But is it enough? “Something is better than nothing,” she jokes.
The area itself is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Environment of the Regional Government of Andalusia: “They don’t do anything to clean or maintain this part of the Sierra. We’ve written to them to tell them what we’re doing and what we’re planning to do. They haven’t even acknowledged our letters,” she complains. “We’re working and fighting in the hope that they’ll start to clean and signpost these footpaths. In the meantime, we’re enjoying what we do”.
So far they’ve managed to create a 5.5 km circular route that starts out in Puerto Rico, behind the Don Miguel Hotel that looms on the skyline. “It’s really hard work. It’s not just about going out and having a picnic in the countryside. It’s tough cleaning the landscape with shears. It’s exhausting on your arms, back and legs. What we really need is an electric strimmer. It would make life so much easier!”.
So, “what are their plans for the future?” you may ask. These Women of the Footpaths are editing a guidebook for the circular route they have cleared with information about flora and fauna in the vicinity. “We want to promote the footpath and educate people about wildlife on the slopes of Sierra Blanca,” insists Navarro. “People in Marbella don’t realize the natural beauty they have around them. Even when they do, they often don’t know how to defend it,” she concludes.
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Tags: association, ayuntamiento, ayuntamiento de marbella, camino, consejeria de medio ambiente, dolores navarro carillo, environment, fauna, featured people, hike, junta de andalucía, la concha, malaga province, marbella, mujeres, mujeres en las veredas, people, puerto rico, sierra, sierra blanca, veredas, flora, malaga