Cave paintings show Candeleda has been inhabited for 5,000 years, and one current resident, Jose Miguel, 67, said he would hate to see its population dwindle after such a long history. "I've checked out the few widows and single women here," he said. "I signed up for this to meet new ladies and to hopefully show them the beauty of my town."
100 Spanish villages under imminent threat of abandonment
The group, Asocamu, was set up in 1995 to promote rural
repopulation by organising parties for single men and women. Up to
100 of Spain's 5,000 villages are under imminent threat of
abandonment. Manuel Gozalo, one of the organisers, said Spain's
painful financial crisis and the lure of city jobs had made the
need more pressing than ever. Asocamu credits as its inspiration
the 1951 film ‘Westward the Women’, starring Robert Taylor and
Denise Darcel, which tells the story of how the American west was
populated by organising wagon trains of women to provide company –
and brides – for lonely pioneers.
Some meetings have led to marriages
In Candeleda, men and women danced, flirted and considered their
prospects. Blanca Fernandez, 52, who works in sales in Madrid, said
she was attracted by the idea of a nice day out and a chance for
romance. "I know it's difficult to find the love of
one's life, but some of these meetings have led to
marriages," she said.