Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 22 - Where did all the Galegos go?

One thing I am frequently struck by is the number of abandoned houses in Galicia. They seem to be everywhere. Some of them seem to be recently empty, while others have been empty so long that they no longer have roofs or even interiors in some cases. Many of them have “For Sale” signs on them, but many of them just seem to fade into the background.
There are many reasons why people moved away from these homes. Emigration has been a part of Galego history for many, many years. They have left for economic and political reasons, and they have gone to places like Argentina, Cuba, France, Germany, and even just other parts of Spain. In fact, there are so many Galician immigrants in Buenos Aires that it is considered the “largest city in Galicia.”

Some of them left with the intention of returning and were never able to; some left family here that later had to move on or passed away. Some may even still come and go depending on the season, or at least that is their intention. Some of them may have even tried to sell the houses (and in some cases are still trying) and were unsuccessful.

It is a terrible shame; this is probably one of the most beautiful areas of Spain that I have seen. I of course have a special place in my heart for Granada, and Barcelona is artistically unmatchable, but when it comes to the weather and the natural surroundings, I think Galicia has to take the prize. If I won the lottery I would definitely consider buying one of these houses!

Unfortunately, when the economy hits hard, it hits extra hard here, and as a result many people feel the strain and need to move to where there are more opportunities. There may be a handful of individuals who are able to move here and create a new life, but there are very few who immigrate from the exterior to live in Galicia for good.

There is no easy fix for this problem. I only hope that people are able to create opportunities to stay here. It would be a shame to leave this if it were my home.

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