Marcia Bravo is in our hotseat today. Originally from the same part of the UK as Spain Buddy’s Elle… she has now made Spain her home. Read on to find out more. If you would like to be featured, click HERE to submit your info too. It’s free!
What is your name?
When did you move to Spain, and where from?
I´m originally from Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK where I have always lived until moving to Spain on December 8th 2018 to live my best life, as one of my nieces often says. I remember it vividly because I literally completed the sale of my UK home the day before after a few delays; and so it was all in the balance in respect of getting on my flight on the 8th with my hand held suitcase to move to Spain. The sensation of freedom and new adventures was amazing; especially because this was the first time I had gone to live in another country apart from when I was first learning Spanish to study in a Spanish institute and stay with a Spanish family during my holiday from work in the UK charity sector to improve my learning.
After years of coming to Spain, mainly Andalusia and meeting my Spanish friends at language exchanges in the UK; I realised that my love for Spain was more than a short romance and I longed for a change.
Who came with you?
I came with me.. and my small hand held suitcase..It´s so tiny looking back I´m not sure why I thought I could just move to Spain with just what I had in my suitcase, but´s that´s pretty much what I did. I had to buy almost everything including pyjamas.
Where in Spain do you live now?
Now I live in Malaga city; this was always my planned destination, although I only passed through a part of Málaga years before to stay with a family of two Spanish teachers and their parents. I didn´t actually see much of Malaga except for Frigillana as part of an activity. My research was based on google reviews, Trip adviser comments and anything I could find out about Malaga. I think It was also the weather that swung it; with Malaga being protected by the sea and the mountains; there´s lots of sun, which I craved and no extremes. That and the fact that it was really easy to fly direct from Malaga to Leeds Bradford airport; my nearest airport and then promptly to family in Leeds, what more could I ask for.
What things (apart from loved ones) do you miss from your country of birth?
Although I stopped eating fish and chips frequently before coming to Spain, recently there have been a few times when I have thought, “Oh! I could just do with a bag of fish and chips with scraps”.
Also with Caribbean heritage, with both parents coming from Jamaica to settle in the UK; there’s also a lot of Caribbean food that I miss such as the famous “Ackee and Saltfish” among other things; which I am regularly in contact with my family on what can be sent to Spain in a food package… but the jury is still out on the Ackee!!
I also miss the West Indian carnival in August and the spirit that brings so many communities together.
Do you work? As what?
After studying Spanish further for 7 months, when I arrived and the now as we are recovering from the Covid pandemic; I have trained and launched my business in October 2021 as a Wedding Celebrant writing and officiating; bilingual, elopements, micro and vow renewals in the UK and Spain (mainly Malaga). What I love about being an independent celebrant is the freedom that I have to write bespoke ceremonies for couples; including their passions, aspirations with quirks and vibrancy rolled in. In addition officiating ceremonies where they want to have their ceremony; be it in a park on the beach in a castle…The choices are endless. ” I didn´t find celebrancy it found me”… Having worked in the UK charity sector for more than 20 years, I love working with people and I get to use my vault of experience and listening and supporting individuals now to support couples on their new journey to marriage. “I just love working with people”.
How are you with speaking Spanish?
I would say I am fluent in Spanish now, being native level is another thing!! ; but I do mainly speak in Spanish and have done since arriving to Malaga, which was one of the best things I´ve done in respect of improving my proficiency; although there are days when I can neither speak Spanish or English well and just yesterday I was speaking to a Spanish friend by zoom who lives in Cadiz and they asked me what some of the words where in English and for a moment I really had to think. As I work in English and Spanish its not so bad!!
If you could change anything about Spain… what would that be? And why?
It would have to be the paperwork and processes; each time I have to submit a document to change a license or something else I automatically think ..how much paperwork is there and why do I have to make a further appointment to come back again… This has probably been one of the biggest culture shocks for me but it´s getting easier.. I think!!
The acceptance of everything being ok when you have received a really poor service. For me working for the majority of my career with customers; I find this difficult to accept.
Direct train from Malaga to Cadiz would be brilliant!!
What are the best things about living in Spain?
I absolutely love the people, culture, good food and wine and culture of eating outside; in Malaga it´s possible all year around with a few heater and in some restaurants blankets!!
The weather is amazing and I have to pinch myself everyday when I go for a walk near the sea, even when it rains; and we don´t have much rain in Malaga having on average 320 days of sun per year. How amazing is that; but in other cities it´s generally good too.
And the light, the skies are so bright in comparison to when I lived in Leeds, sometimes I still have to adjust to it´s intensity but I love it.
Being surrounded by trees, and landscaped areas and places to sit, relax and enjoy the environment.
Lots of fountains here too, which I find so peaceful.
And the architectural gems like the Alcazaba.
What are your favourite Spanish dishes?
- Paella has and will always be one of my favourites even when I was still living in the UK
- Black rice
- Gambas Pil Pil, although coming from a Caribbean background, the spicy in Spain is generally not spicy…
- Spanish omelette with onions; you can be on one of two sides here, one with Spanish omelette with onions and other side who say onions should not be a part of Spanish omelette
- Bunuelas de Bacalao
What is the predominant nationality of your friends in Spain?
It´s a mix of Spanish and English speaking, although from France ,Korea, Netherlands, Germany and more, although we all generally speak Spanish to each other.
If you won the Euromilliones – would you still live where you currently are? Why / why not?
I think I would still live in Malaga but maybe in a Finca in the countryside, with my Defra approved wood burning stove… I would probably keep a flat in the city centre too, just to have a change of environment and to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of life in the city although first and foremost I am a “city girl”.
If a movie was made about your life – who would play you? Why?
Ooh! that´s a difficult one but I´m going to go for Angela Bassett, because I think she is an actress who I have watched and admired on screen for most of my adult life. She is a strong and determined woman and this has come across in many of her on screen roles i.e. as Tina Turner and the struggles of domestic violence as a huge player in the music industry. Her personality and strength and determination reminds me of myself and so after a little bit of elimination from two others octavia Spencer and Viola Davis,
Angela wins as I can see her acting out my personality and hear her speaking my words whilst portraying some of my life experiences best.
If you had to describe yourself as a cocktail… what would you be, and why?
Not a big fan of cocktails in today’s world of cocktails… although back in the day I loved a Banana Daiquiri with its rum and creamy tones. I can resonate with a banana daiquiri, being warm natured and creamy, strong but not too much, but with an infectious and understated personality but still “packing a punch” that leaves you going back for seconds…
Right – now is the chance to tell us all about your business/website/blog if you have one (or more of course).
Ok, so I´m Marcia Bravo, fondly known as “M” or “MB” , a passionate, creative and eclectic Celebrant; as you all know now originally from Leeds, West Yorkshire. I live in Malaga and write and officiate bespoke ceremonies for couples in the UK and in Spain in the place of their choice. Some of my favourite ceremony styles are alternative ceremonies that include a symbolic ritual like a hand-fasting or jumping the broom ritual. I love to officiate bilingual, elopement, LGBTQ and micro weddings. You can find me as Marcia Bravo Celebrant UK and Spain on social media, on Instagram and Facebook where I post regularly about the benefits of having a celebrant led wedding and the services that I offer. I also do a Q & A Instagram post with some of the popular questions that couples ask. You can also find me on Pinterest sharing my celebrant style weddings and where you can get a flavour of who I am as a person. My website outlines my journey from working in the UK charity sector supporting, motivating and listening to individuals in crisis situations and helping them to move forward with their lives; to becoming a celebrant and the skills, experience and my vault of life skills that I have acquired over more than 20+ years. I´ve heard lots of stories about love, loss and strength over the 20+ years, so you could say I´m an expert in working with people. I also write a weekly blog on my website where I talk more about weddings, elopement, bilingual, micro, vow renewals etc. And you can find me on google business too, where I also post weekly.
As a celebrant from the moment a couple get in touch with me to enquire about my services I am with the couple providing the best information, quotes that I can. And I will stay with the couple once they have contracted my services to give support and see how they are progressing on a regularly basis, giving support, encourage and pointers, especially if they are writing their own vows. This is so that I get to know the couples very well and by the time I am ready to officiate their wedding; it feels like we are really good friends and I am therefore able to write a ceremony that is all about them as a couple, captures their passions, future aspirations together in a way that is fun and has the most meaning to them. I can do traditional ceremonies, however usually couples are looking for something a little bit different when they are looking at me as their celebrant.
My style appeals to busy couples working within sectors like law, charitable sectors, Digital marketing, Interior design, fashion design, life coaches and many others couples who regard themselves as creatives or offering services to people that make them feel good about themselves.
Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business – Spain Web Design by Gandy-Draper.
Born a “Norverner”, she then spent most of her life “Dann Saff” before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle’s loves are Alan, the internet, dogs, good food, and dry white wine – although not necessarily in that order.