Curro orders people about a great deal on El Palo beach, near the legendary Casa Pedro restaurant. He has no official authority or position, but is the self-appointed ‘parking attendant’ in that area: the person who officiously organises the few and highly coveted spaces where people can park their car and enjoy a day on the sand.
Parking near the beach can be a problem throughout Malaga city, but the eastern side is undoubtedly the worst. From the statue of Cánovas del Castillo in La Malagueta to well past La Araña, there is often traffic congestion because the local population increases considerably in the summer, many residential developments have been built in the hills nearby and parking facilities are few and far between.
Another example is the spa at Los Baños del Carmen where, although there is a small esplanade opposite, people who come to the beaches in this area or to the bar-restaurant, are obliged to park their cars at awkward angles on the banks at the side of the road to Cerrado de Calderón.
The situation is hardly any better further into Pedregalejo, and parking in Calle Bolivia is almost a heroic feat. The only solution to be found is to cross to the other side of Avenida Juan Sebastián Elcano, which irritates people who live in those streets every summer because the cars are often left on the pavements or across private garage entrances.
Once past the Jaboneras stream, the situation becomes even more difficult. Apart from La Milagrosa where, like the Casa Pedro area, there is only space for about 15 cars, the principal ‘hot spot’ for parking is by the beach near El Tintero restaurant and Playa Virginia.
People using these beaches - and the one at El Candado - have to risk parking on the pavements or somewhere within the residential development itself, which means quite a walk to reach the sand.
The lack of space for parking in El Palo all year round - double and even triple parking is quite common in Calle Echeverría - is exacerbated at this time of year, and the municipal car park is often the only answer although it means paying more than 10 euros to spend part of the day soaking up the sun.
The Peñón del Cuervo beach is practically deserted in winter, but as soon as summer approaches the barbecue area becomes very popular. As well as the groups using these facilities, there are others who just want to spend time on the beach, so the parking area tends to fill up well before lunchtime. In that case, the only answer is to leave the car in the dark access tunnel, and when that is full the road that leads down to the beach also becomes lined with vehicles.
In all these places, this has been the situation for years but in the past two years the number of vehicles has increased so it is becoming increasingly difficult. At present the authorities appear to have no plans to resolve the parking problem.
However, the eastern side of Malaga is by no means the only area affected. All along the Costa del Sol local residents and visitors have become resigned to the difficulties in finding a parking space.
In La Cala de Mijas the town hall found a solution by letting people park in the fairground area, on the other side of the dual carriageway, in the summer months. However, the annual fair also takes place at this time of year and the area cannot be used for parking during that time. The resulting chaos causes frustration and resentment among local people, who are calling for the council to build proper parking facilities to put an end to the problem.
In Rincón de la Victoria the worst parking problems are in the Avenida del Mediterráneo, the old N-340 highway, which runs through the municipality, and at weekends it is almost impossible for people who want to visit the beach to find anywhere at all to leave their vehicle. Local business owners are asking for a free ‘blue’ parking zone to be created, such as the one which has proven successful in Torrox since 2014.
In Nerja, the problems are mainly in two specific areas: the Burriana beach and at Maro. In the former, although a 250-space municipal car park was created in 2015, this is not enough in the summer and cars are often to be seen parked on the pavements. Meanwhile, on the road leading to Maro beach there used to be frequent traffic jams, but a barrier which has recently been put in place by the local council is helping to resolve the problem.
Marbella and Estepona are no exception to these problems, either. In Marbella there are two places where parking is especially difficult: Cabopino, where people even park on the sand dunes, and around Puerto Banús, where there is no free parking and using a car park for the day can be very expensive.
In Estepona, the worst parking problems occur at El Padrón beach, where drivers leave their cars on pavements, roundabouts and anywhere they can find a gap. The situation has become worse because the adjacent shopping centre, with permission from the town hall, has placed a barrier at the entrance to its car park.
It can also be difficult to park inTorremolinos, especially along the seafront between Los Álamos and El Bajondillo. In that case, people have to leave their cars in the town centre, making parking difficult even for those who aren’t going to the beach.