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A Spaniard is recovering a small village in Extremadura
30 June 2018 @ 12:36

      Today I would like to talk to you about an abandoned small village, almost in the south of Spain: "Los Rubios" (Granja de Torrehermosa, Badajoz, Extremadura).

Los Rubios

      I have just listened on the radio to a spaniard, Antonio Carrizosa, who is 62 years old and lives, in this abandoned small village, since 12 years ago, with his wife and his sister-in-law. They are the only inhabitants of this small village and they live in a house, that Antonio recomposed, without having any notion of masonry.

Antonio Carrizosa Vizuete​​​​​​​

Antonio´s house​​​​​​​

      This small village, located almost on the border of the province of Córdoba, was the dreamed place, for this Spaniard from Extremadura, determined to recover, brick by brick, the place where the childhood of his parents passed.

      Antonio says that it is a little paradise in the middle of nowhere. “I am surrounded by oaks” –he says--. Just before entering "there is a hole where a car fits". The garbage truck and the mail do not arrive, "I receive the letters in Azuaga, in a friend's house". There are no bars. Nor church, "for what?, I have direct connection with God, without intermediaries", he jokes. The old church of San Bartolomé became a hostel, but it is in disuse.

The church of San Bartolomé from afar​​​​​​​

The church of San Bartolomé close up

      “I proposed to the mayor that I would manage it, it seemed good, but it stayed there, he has not told me anything else. I water the plants in front, so they do not dry out”. He speaks with the calm of those who live without a clock, without hurry, who has time to contemplate that landscape, which surrounds and falls him in love every day.

      Antonio tells that his parents grew up in a nearby lead mine, of San Rafael, but they went to Los Rubios, because it was there where there was a teacher, who taught them how to read and write.

      In its good times, the small village was around 90 inhabitants. But they left. And the houses began to fall. And Antonio was left with the regret of seeing how the place, where part of his parents' childhood had passed, was lost.

      Antonio worked in a tax consultancy, in Zafra. At 28 years old, a pension plan was made, that allowed him to retire soon and start fulfilling his dream: recover the small village.

      He has been buying and, brick by brick, restoring some of the old houses. "They have more than a hundred years; in some of them, they have been able to take advantage of the foundations, in others they have not". Right now, a dozen are inhabitable, practically half of the village. "People know what I am doing and they bring me old furniture that nobody wants anymore. These are not pharaonic works and I use recycled materials", he explains.

A restored house​​​​​​​

Half restored house and the other half without restoring​​​​​​​

      He has not got rid of the bureaucratic obstacles. He alleges that, when he thinks that it is necessary, he asks for a building permit (to the municipality of Granja), but they do not answer him, so he bets on the figure of "administrative silence", which he considers synonymous with an affirmative answer and he moves on. He also names the streets, for example, the Wind street, where he likes to sit and read.

      All homes have solar panels for electricity. And to the outskirts, there is a well, that connects with a deposit and that allows them to have running water, which is not potable.

      Antonio says that “There is a family from Valencia, who spends here seasons. And another one from Seville“. They keep roots with the village and have joined Antonio's project, so that Los Rubios can come back to life. He has also involved several friends. When they all get together, they add up to 40. "But there are times when we go to the beach and the animals are alone, and José (from another village) comes to take care of them".

      The affection transmitted to him, especially by his mother, feeds the effort of Antonio in order that Los Rubios flourishes. And he has a future project: that this place can live off rural tourism.

A rural house close to Los Rubios​​​​​​​

      I hope that you can go to this lovely small village, to check its wonderful peace and meet Antonio Carrizosa, as the writer Virginia Mendoza did it a short time ago. She was touring Spain, looking for semi-abandoned villages and found this small village. She met Antonio and, a few days later, published his story, on the Internet, and several radio stations called her to ask who the person is, who left everything to repair houses, where there was practically nothing left. They were struck by the fact that the task, that was proposed by this neighbour of Badajoz, did not have a productive or speculative goal, but rather a therapeutic one.

      Antonio remembers his mother: "She talked to me, with a lot of love, about this place, how she learned to read at school, which they built stuck to the church, about her life in the countryside. It was funny the story, that my mother told me about a donkey, who leant out, when there was dancing and his braying took the rhythm of the orchestra", Antonio remembers it, laughing, before changing the tone. "Then, this was empty, I suppose that the last inhabitant left twenty years ago, I always wanted to have a house here and I saw that it would be impossible, that this would disappear, that animals would enter the house and this would become ruins, so I decided to rebuild the small village with my hands".

      But, despite his love for this land, Antonio is not a neorrural  --because he has always liked the countryside--,  he is neither a hippy nor a hermit  --because he likes to go shopping in Badajoz, to see museums in Madrid, to listen a Jazz concert, in Córdoba, and to buy in Mercadona of Azuaga ... But he almost does not watch TV nor does he like football, although he does have Wifi to be informed--.

      Azuaga is 14 kilometres from Los Rubios; but the small village, inhabited, closer to Los Rubios is Cardenchosa.

      Antonio says: "All this has made me relive mentally and physically, I do not need to play sports, because when I carry stones and wood, one becomes strong". Indeed, Antonio has agile movements and fluent conversation. You can see him cutting a log of wood and talking to his friend, Fernando Pulgarin, in the image below:

Antonio Carrizosa with Fernando Pulgarín​​​​​​​

      Antonio recycles everything he can. He has an old Seat Panda and, with it, he gathers everything that people give him; He says: "I take advantage of everything, people know me and they tell me they are going to throw away their house and I go there and pick up the doors, I clean them up and reuse them, or I pick up stones  --to decorate the floor--, bricks , a handrail .... ".

      Fernando Pulgarin is 53 years old, he is a topographer and has a good friendship with Antonio, because they both have a similar background and character; Fernando says: "I grew up in this area, but I worked in highways and large projects, for a company, in Madrid and I did not like the life I had, so on March 31, 2005, I asked for the account, in the company, and I left. I have two daughters: one 16 years old and another 18 years old, so I can not stop working, but I have become autonomous, I live in Azuaga and I am happier here"; this is what Fernando says, in a little house rehabilitated by himself.

      These two friends are still thinking about how to improve the small village of Los Rubios.

      Well, I hope that you will like this article and hope that you will can to visit this lovely place.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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