La Voz de Galicia – April 5, 2024 →

Cristina PatoLast week, I went to the procession with my mother and my sister Yoly. Yoly was walking as usual, in her own way, and Maruxa and I were walking arm in arm, silently, walking at her pace, which is also the usual pace of processions (when did Maruxa stop walking fast?). We were happy, thinking about our things, listening to the cathedral bells reverberating with the sound of bagpipes (what a familiar sound! how much I missed it!), and suddenly Maruxa stopped, looked around her, and said in a low voice, “ha! here, everyone is older than me.” And I tried to contain my laughter, but I couldn’t. She was absolutely right; we were surrounded by old women, many of them older than her, over eighty years old.

I read this week a news article saying that Galicia has more than two thousand centenarians, and that it is one of the areas with the highest life expectancy in the world, something that is undoubtedly worth celebrating. And when I stop to think about where in rural Galicia these people live, I also think about the relationship between longevity and sustainability, and I think that with the cost of living higher than ever, I don’t know how old women like my mother manage to make ends meet in a city like Ourense. And although we know that having a vegetable garden and a chicken coop for self-consumption helps economically and keeps them active, this reality depends on each person’s circumstances, and not all old women have access to it.

I wonder what the role of institutions has been and is in the lack of basic services and the abandonment of rural areas, a situation that prevents many people, despite wanting or having roots there, from being able to afford to live in that magical place we boast of: rural Galicia, the rural of longevity.

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