The World In A Word

If I speak of el pueblo de Frigiliana, I may be referring to the village of Frigiliana; or I may be speaking of the people of Frigiliana. The Spanish word pueblo has both meanings, and other, wider meanings too.
At first that seemed unhelpful to me. An ambiguity that could have been avoided by having a separate word for each - township and population, for instance. But with time and experience comes understanding. To the rural Spaniard especially, the two concepts are inseparable. His or her pueblo is at one and the same time his/her geographical and human source. Mi pueblo is the place I belong to and it is also the people I belong to.
In Spain people still tend by preference, to remain in the place where they were born and grew up; where they married and had their children; where, perhaps, today their spouse rests in the cemetery. If they can find work and a life's partner, that it how it has always been and that is how it still is today.
Of course, necessity has always driven young people to leave their pueblo in search of opportunity, and that is increasingly true today.In many, non-coastal provinces the villages are literally dying as the young head for the city and the old for the campo santo. On the Costas, it is easier for people to stay in the pueblo and travel just a few kilometres to thier work in tourism, hospitality and (to a lesser degree just now) in construction. And so Frigiliana is a vigorous and thriving community. And on all the major fiestas, the motorways of Spain are crammed with people heading, no matter how briefly, to spend precious time in and among their pueblo.
Some years ago during my Spanish studies, I reached for my dictionary to look up the Spanish word for 'commuter'; it wasn't there. Very simply, if your place of work is more than a very few kilometres from your home, you move to live near your work. And in the city your barrio fulfils many of the functions of the pueblo.
That led me on to another observation. Many people leave the village for work. Very few come into the village to their job. Professionals - teachers, bank managers, doctors, lawyers and the like; or expats offering their skills locally to fund a life in the sun.
It's another contrast with the country I left; it's another thing that makes Spain, Spain.

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