BENITAGLA in Andalucia offers a very different pace of life compared to most towns and cities, probably due to the fact it has a population of just 53 – the smallest in the region.
There are no bars or shops in the municipality, which covers six square metres of the Sierra de los Filabres, deep in Almeria province.
There are pluses for the tiny community, however, including the fact that it was the only Andalucia town not to have anybody infected during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The local council says the municipality stands out for still maintaining the ‘difficult combination’ of progress and timelessness.
Since Moorish times, the town has depended on farming as its main source of income, through olive, almond, and grapes.
Nothing has changed on that front and the community’s church is served by a priest who has to make a special journey to celebrate mass.
Despite no retail outlets, shopping is conducted by residents buying goods from street vendors who come to Benitagla on a regular basis.
Benitagla’s mayor, Juan Padilla, told the EFE news agency that the population, most of which is elderly, also changes during the summer season when people who live abroad come to mix with the few dozen permanent residents.
Isabel Padilla left the town when she was three years old but has returned there aged 70 after living in Barcelona.
“I’m doing great, it feels like I’m in paradise. I love it here. People don’t understand that I’ve come from such a good place like Barcelona, but since I arrived I think I’ve improved,” she said.
With such an elderly population, medical services are essential, and Isabel explains that ‘every Tuesday the doctor comes to visit with the nurse who takes your blood pressure’.
“They write prescriptions for what you need and then later on, the pharmacists come with the medicines they have prescribed for you. I’m better off here than in Catalunya, as here I don’t have to make an appointment,” Isabel added.
Isabel added that in towns like hers “you have to be supportive”, adding that many people are not even aware of the internet.
She adds: “If you need something, everyone helps you. I don’t have a car, I can’t take it and go shopping in other towns, but my friend takes me… I don’t lack anything. The other people are very older and don’t know about the Internet, but I buy things online.”
Benitagla is also an example of the fight against depopulation led by the Almeria Provincial Council.
It already has an ATM and council subsidies will mean that it will soon get a bar and hopefully a shop.