After 15 kilometers of track, full of mud, potholes and slopes, there is a town in the Zaragoza region of Cinco Villas whose name we cannot reveal at the request of its inhabitants. It is a self-managed town, abandoned about 60 years ago and now inhabited by a group of five young people who have lived continuously for two years, seeking not only to rebuild the town and inhabit it, but also to create a community to which more people join. and families.
Upon arrival, the figure of a witch decorates the branches of one of the first trees, an amulet hangs under the frame of the entrance to the main house, as a symbol of protection. In the town square, dogs scamper between the tables and under a hammock tied to two logs, which sways in the cool breeze at the same time that a wind chime hung a little above rings. Two friendly visitors cross the small log bridge that crosses the bed of the fountain, now dried up by winter. They march back to Murillo de Gallego through the main street, protected by the walls still half rebuilt. They pass by the guest house, the school, and the pen for the chickens and goats, and then disappear waving their arms in farewell behind the church.
It all started randomly shortly before the pandemic. Five friends decide that they want to live in an abandoned town to get away from society, be in contact with nature and live for themselves. After a first attempt in the province of Huesca, they contact a former owner and neighbor of the town, Ángel Alegre: “We contacted him through a friend and we discovered that he wanted to give his house through a contract to people who were willing to give life to the town” explains Selva, 22, the youngest of the group. “Beyond individual reasons, we all sought the same goal: learn to be self-sufficient; learn to build, cultivate, create your light, collect your water. And at the same time live in nature and build with what you have around you, don’t get it from somewhere else.
The town is made up of seven houses, four of them habitable, placed on large mounds of polished rock; a fountain, two springs in its lower part, two ovens, a school, a corral for animals, a greenhouse and the church placed in the upper part. Of the latter, its cemetery stands out, located on a small hillside and now collapsed, where bones still appear, “Two archaeologists came months ago and said that it was a mass grave. They told us not to touch anything, but this seems to me to be a lack of respect, they are human remains” criticizes Chose, 34 years old and who acts as a guide for the visit. A little further down is the only private property in the town, a tall house bought more than 6 years ago by an architect from Madrid with the idea of rebuilding it himself.
Apart from the town’s own resources, and the land to cultivate located in the lower part, they have two solar panels with which they recharge two portable batteries of about four or five days duration to be able to light the house when night falls, in addition to of a rain collection system with a capacity of 200 litres.
Horizontal organization to build the future
Among his most immediate projects is the reconstruction of the walls that divide the plots, painting the walls of the school and changing the roofs of it and of the guest house. In the long term, they want to turn the school into a free teaching center: “Children learn by playing, when you are a child you have a lot of energy and what you need is to discover. You also have to keep in mind that there is no obligation to attend class, but in the end you learn in a way that interests you and you like and they all end up going to class at 9 in the morning every hour”. At this time the school works as a social center for activities and games, practicing yoga, meditation and also as a bar for when the visitors arrive in summer, since, in addition, they collaborate with different associations, the last one being Biesdar.org, with whom a farm school for children was organized last summer.
To carry out all these projects, they are organized in horizontal assemblies (especially in the summer when there can be up to 15 residents), with no one acting as leader “A topic is proposed, each one gives their opinion and a consensus is reached” . “We have a table where we put all the things that we think are important for both the day and the evening. Sometimes we do it randomly so the jobs rotate and people don’t end up getting tired.” But there are also the so-called “emotional assemblies”, meetings that arise when there is some conflict or tension in order to resolve it: “normally they are proposed by the person who wants to express something”, “here it is also about feelings and coexistence. If there is to be as long as you are, you are; if you have to talk about it again, you talk. In the end, knowing how to listen and grow as a group is also an important part of the project” explain Selva, Chose and Vanesa.
An alternative to the system and being able to share it
They reject any type of label and political spectrum, Vanesa explains that in any case they can define themselves as naturalists “as a connection with nature, replanting trees, cleaning the riverbeds, making the animals shit again so that flowers come out again Also recovering traditions, like building a stone house or a clay oven. You learn not to need more than you can, just open your eyes. Also a greater contact with recycling, in the end you are not responsible for what happens with your garbage, you are giving it to a company so that it decides what to do with your garbage”
The decision to form this community also came from their rejection of the prevailing system: “An individuality that is too unpleasant is being created. As long as you are well, you don’t care if the rest are bad, that there are injustices, that there is hunger, that the environment is degraded. environment. From the moment you are born, you are given ideas of what you have to do with your life. In the end, the objective of this project is also to show an alternative to the system,” explains Selva.
It cannot be denied that the project works in the search for an alternative, but it also breathes that air of peace and harmony that its inhabitants speak of. They do not consider this land to be theirs and in fact they recognize that, if they were forced to leave, they would accept it and look for another place. They do not seek possession of a place and make it their own, but rather inhabit it, take care of it and, above all, share it. They hope in the future to create a larger community and settle down.
After a winter in which the fields froze and, as Vanesa says, “you have to learn to hibernate” it seems that this is coming to an end. The sunlight is getting warmer; in the afternoon, the boys go out to play with self-made bows and arrows. And the next morning, in the orchard of fruit trees, it seems that the plum tree is blooming.