Lucia Palacios, 22, was consistently top of her class at home in Maracay, Venezuela. Her grades were so good she gained a place at one of the country’s then coveted medical schools, training to become a specialist nurse.
But today Ms Palacios – not her real name – is working as a prostitute, selling sexual favours to British and German holidaymakers on the Costa del Sol.
She is one of 208,333 Venezuelans that the Spanish authorities record as having fled the failed central american state for Spain over the last few years.
The true figure is thought to be much higher and many educated women, like Ms Palacios, have been forced into prostitution to make ends meet.
“This is the first time and the last time that I will work in this industry,” said Ms Palacios who works from a small apartment in Benalmadena near Marbella.
She says most of her clients are British tourists, adding that many are “abusive due to all the alcohol”. She has at least escaped the area’s brothels.
“I’ve worked in places here that make you see clients for 24 hours and you aren’t allowed to sleep,” she said.
Ms Palacios says she was forced to leave Venezuela after the country’s economy went into meltdown with annual inflation hitting 80,000 per cent at the end of last year.