One of our friends from the village came to visit us yesterday. He’s a lovely guy, one of the first in the village to have a conversation with us when we arrived. (When I say “conversation”, I mean mostly gestures and a few words – when we arrived in Spain, we spoke almost no Spanish).
He was asking us how we were doing in the recession. We are asked that a lot – are we ok, do we have enough food, and can we pay our bills. No one is trying to be nosy here, they just care.
Then we talked about the recession in general, and how it was affecting the village. Most of the “boom” in the village was from construction, and that industry has died a death recently. So there is a lot of unemployment. And not a lot of money.
Our friend said that he doesn’t get paid for work very often, but that he doesn’t mind. He’ll do work for people, and if they can pay him, that’s fine. Otherwise, they can pay him when they can.
He also said that he is often paid “in kind”. So someone he works for will lend him a hand on his finca in return. Or they’ll give him some chickens or a bag of oranges. He doesn’t mind, because people do what they can and it all works out eventually.
This sense of cooperation and community is not some idealistic, dreamy village existence – it is a method that Yunquera has used through the years to survive tough times.
In our case, we also pass vegetables around to our friends when we can. We trade work on Manuel’s land for a sack of oranges and lemons. We give our friend from yesterday our spare batteries, and he pays us a bit here and there when he can.
I find it a pretty gratifying way of life.