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Hug the earth

Much of Spain is rural. It's rural in a different way to most of the UK though there are some similarities and parallels. For instance, like the Lake District, lots of rural areas here make their living principally from tourism rather than from, say, agriculture or manufacturing. Also, around Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or Seville well off families may move to the countryside to take advantage of a more relaxed lifestyle, less pollution and the like. They travel into town in the same way as all those commuters in all those dormitory areas stretching out for 100 miles from London along every train line or the Mancunians nestling in their Pennine villages.

Here rural often really does mean rural. If you own a four wheel drive motor it will get covered in mud and dirt clambering up unmade roads. You probably have to use a generator for electricity, water may still be well water, the pile of wood outside will not only heat your house but may well be the fuel you use to cook over too. If you can get a "landline" telephone it will actually be a radio phone.

I mention this only because today a website I subscribe to called Abraza la Tierra (more like Embrace the Land than Google's translation of Hug the Earth) sent me an email about a meeting of the communities about 50km from Ciudad Rodrigo in the area called Sierra de Francia. They were calling for infrastructure investment in things like broadband access and start up support for new start small and innovative industries. The reason they gave was that their villages were dying but dying in a spectacularly real way. As the old folk die there's simply nobody coming on behind. There are lots of villages with lots of houses used at weekends and for holidays but with only a handful of full time inhabitants.

There are stories about whole areas being taken over by immigrant groups, like the Polish in Teruel or Ecuadorians being offered financial incentives to move to rural Galicia to repopulate areas and villages.

Alicante, around Culebrón was rural but in an English sort of way with lots of people, many of them incomers, choosing to live up a track in a big stone pile of a house. It's definitely different here. A different way of life.

Actually it reminds me of a piece I read in the newspaper a couple of months ago about a village with 12 inhabitants in Teruel province that was trying to stimulate tourism through a website. Even if you have no Spanish you should have a go on their website; it's a hoot. The village in which nothing ever happens


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