It’s been over fifty years since the release of the Spanish comedy classic “Bienvenido Mr. Marshall” depicting a small modest Spanish town’s desire to turn itself into a flashy Andalusian village in order to impress the impending arrival of American dignitaries. Director José Luis Berlanga ridiculed then Spain’s unabashed childish behavior whenever someone famous from abroad made their presence, and now half a century later, the attitude seems to still survive.
Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha have decided to spend a few days of their summer vacation in the south of Spain and there seems to be little talk of anything else. The chosen town, Marbella (this time it really is Andalusia), was a hotspot for the semi-jetset during the 80s and 90s, but in the last decade it has seen its image tarnished by a series of real estate and political scandals, seriously affecting its tourism economy. It just wasn’t cool to be there anymore. But the Obama’s arrival may just turn things around there, and the locals are delighted.
The first day has not come without certain controversy. Apparently the State Department had to remove a sentence on its website stating “racist prejudice could lead to the arrest of Afro-Americans who travel to Spain”. Can you believe it? Aside from being a crock of you know what, what a lot of nerve those people have. As if law enforcers back in the States have never been accused of that. Just ask the good Hispanic people in the state of Arizona.
Anyway, the First Lady and her daughter have chosen a top-notch new hotel inland called the Villa Padierna as their home base. It’s said to be one of the 30 best hotels in the world, but from what I have read, it sounds a little tacky and far removed from something with a real Spanish flavour to it. Otherwise I guess it’s all right.
Regardless, the Obamas don’t seem to have a reclusive agenda alongside the pool lined up. Today they spent the morning strolling around the downtown of Marbella looking at shops. The media here reported on every single item of clothing Michelle found interesting. I think they even interviewed a few dresses. And this afternoon, they presidential family is hoping to visit the Alhambra in Granada without having reserved their tickets, which I assume is supposed to mean they are doing what they can to be just like everyone else. So far, so good.
¡Dios mío! Now that I think of it, I’ve just written a brief article on their stay here too. Mr. Berlanga would be laughing his ass off right now if he read this. I have become just as Spanish as the rest of the country!