Marina in Spanish is the navy; it is also an adjective for sea, as in agua marina, seawater. Coupled with azul, blue, it’s a color. It’s also a woman’s name, meaning the woman who comes from the sea. What it’s not, though it is in English, is a wharf or a port for pleasure craft.

A marina will likely have a restaurant with a view of the water, and perhaps an outdoor café from which to watch the comings and goings, and is often attached to a yacht club, or if not part of it, then found nearby. The word in Spanish is puerto deportivo, and Gijón has one, right around the bulge of the peninsula from the Real Club Astur de Regatas, the yacht club.

At the marina, informally called the Muelle or Fomento, pretty pleasure craft rock in their slips, nudging up against modest fishing vessels, a peaceful, colorful sight. A broad walkway with bike path extends from a breakwater jutting into the sea beside the peninsula, past the piers, past the park Jardines de la Reina, and on to the Poniente, a manmade beach, where the aquarium sits. All along the walkway are restaurants, bars, and shops. The Plaza Mayor is opposite the marina, with the San Lorenzo Beach just beyond. The pedestrian shopping street Calle Corrida sets off from the marina, and above it all, on the peninsula, sits the historic old town of Cimadevilla. It’s a lovely area around the marina, with the sea breeze, sand, and boats. It makes you love the word, English and Spanish.

But I like the word particularly because of a young woman I know, just turned 23, a horsewoman, not a sailor or swimmer, studying veterinary medicine in Madrid, whose eyes remind me of her grandmother Pilar. Her name is Marina, inherited from her other grandmother, which means she got it the only decent way to get anything, I’ve heard it said: long before you can covet a thing or connive to acquire it, before you make thoughtless sacrifices for a craving, or become a slave to an idea or to a desire, to be instead so lucky as to have it given to you. And especially lucky when the gift matches expressive eyes and a gentle manner. And if you get an occasional sea breeze, some sand, and a view of boats thrown in, so much the better.

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Clellan Coe, a writer in Spain, is a contributing editor of the Scholar.


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