Running Into The Sun


For as long as we’ve lived in Fuengirola (nearly 3 years) rarely has a day gone by without my running into a colorful local character.

His name is Jose Millan and I see him all over town selling a special kind of lottery ticket (cupón) called La ONCE (literally The Eleven, but an acronym for Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles — National Organization for the Blind). La ONCE is sold at official kiosks or by people on the street, like Jose.

Jose is quite the character, chatting away with anyone and everyone. He has his morning coffee at La Esquinita where he holds court and usually sings some bit of traditional Andalusian music. Until Friday morning, I knew nothing about him — except that he was loud, friendly, and an institution. Then, while Jessica and I were practicing her English and my Spanish at Meson Salvador, Jose passed through selling “La ONCE” and I decided to buy one. And that turned into a 10-minute conversation.

Next to the Roman columns on the paseo near our apartment (excavated from the nearby Roman ruins — click here), is a bronze bust on a marble pedestal. I had never really examined it closely. Jessi mentioned to me that Jose is “famous.” She had to translate much of what he was saying since his toothless, rapidly spoken, local dialect was difficult for me to keep up with.

It started when he told me, pointing toward the Paseo, “There’s a statue of me there.” His fame comes from the fact that he was an avid runner long before running was trendy on the Costa del Sol. He started running more than 50 years ago, when it was a very rare thing to see around here and I’ve been told he would be seen running through town all the time — carrying a Spanish flag.


Jose was born in Marbella, but has lived in Fuengirola for decades. Among his careers: He’s been a fisherman, a farmer, a bricklayer, and a waiter. He’s now 82 years old. He was still running when we moved here three years ago.

Although I haven’t seen him running lately, he almost never stops moving.

A musical morning with Jose Millan Jiménez. (This is how he rests.)

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

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