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Affection: experiences of how to approach people and build connections

20 October 2017

It is Tuesday, the first whole day of the OASIS. Our task: To go out into the village, looking for beauties, talents and stories. How to approach people? For some people it seems to be really easy to involve each and everybody into a casual conversation. Not for me. Welcome the challenge!

In a café in the towncentre, next to me on the bar a guy with no hair. He orderes a café con leche. This is my chance. I ask him about the paintings on the village square; he does not know who made them. Surely somebody who is not from here, otherwise he would know the person. He has lived here in Collado Mediano his whole life, he is 63 now. He runs the little shop across the street. “San Juan”, the name of the shop. That’s him. At first he seems a bit cautious, suspicious maybe. After a while though it seems like he is enjoying being listened to. Rather then asking specific questions, I try to let him choose what he wants to talk about. How much the village has changed over the past 20 years; and with that, his life. The arrival of the two big supermarkets somehow impacted the life in the village centre; instead of walking to the little shops, people now take their cars to the supermarket. Whereas before he was living well with a carniceria, a butcher shop, now he has to sell in addition bread, cooked food and all sorts of other things. Only selling one thing does not pay his living any more. None of his three daughters has any aspiration to take over the business; none of the young people from here do. For him, the village is dying, there is not much hope.

It is 5.30pm now, he takes his keys out. Time to open the shop. He insists to pay for my coffee; Hasta luego guapa.

This blogpost is written by Mara Natterer, participant of the Rural Codes program in Collado Mediano. This post is a story based on the 2nd step of the Oasis Game: Affection.