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Nigüelas, village of the slow and the "SLOW" movement

A village wihout noise ( Ideal 19 noviembre 2006 )

A village without noise

Nigüelas has started the procedures to join the 'slow movement', which claims the pleasure of living without hurry. Curiously, his neighbours are known as 'the slow ones'.
FERNANDO VELASCO - IDEAL -Sunday, 19 November 2006, 03:41

Haste has never been a good counsellor", says the saying... or "you don't have to arrive first, but know how to arrive," says the Mexican corrido. To do this, you have to park your hurry and enjoy every minute of it, as proposed by the 'slow' movement, a whole philosophy of life that, every day, gains more followers, like the little more than a thousand neighbours of Nigüelas, a small town of Granada situated in the highest part of the Lecrín Valley, under the shelter of the Sierra Nevada, and who are known as 'the slow ones'.

Nigüelas has decided to step on the brakes to get ahead of the future with an idea that everyone wants to copy: to join the movement of Cittá slow (slow cities). This way, Nigüelas becomes the second Andalusian municipality with 'slows' aspirations after Pozo Alcón, a jienense nucleus located in the middle of the Natural Park of Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas, with 5. 500 inhabitants, which last October signed, along with the towns of Palafrugell, Pals and Begur (Catalonia), Munguía and Lekeitio (Basque Country), Rubielos de Mora (Teruel) and Bigastro (Alicante) the Protocol of Intentions to join this movement of slow cities.

The movement emerged in 1989 and owes its origin to the protest carried out by the Italian journalist Carlo Petrini, who was outraged by the opening of a fast food restaurant next to the steps of Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Petrini then became aware of the need to protect traditional food from the fast food empire. That same year, in Paris, the movement was named and its logo designed, based on the image of a snail. The name of this movement was Slow food and it was the seed of the Slow cities.

The Slow cities or Convivias go beyond Slow food and have become a whole philosophy of life. Their inhabitants enjoy nature and value small pleasures such as eating or talking, or better yet, doing both at the same time. There is no room for haste in order to promote a more humane coexistence.

The movement proposes to park the rush and enjoy every minute of it. To do so, it demands a new scale of values, based on working to live and not the other way around. Biodiversity, the vindication of local cultures and an intelligent use of technology are some of its main signs of identity.

The slow

This is what Santiago López García, mayor of Nigüelas, wants to achieve. He has asked for the collaboration of Carmen Escudero, mayor of Pozo Alcón, pioneer of this movement in Andalusia.

The inhabitants of Nigüelas are known as 'Los Lentos', although this nickname has its origin in the nickname of a family and not in the way of life of their neighbours. Nevertheless, the village meets a series of conditions that fit perfectly with the slow movement, whose will is to build a more humane space, with measures ranging from air systems that control pollution to initiatives that protect local products and crafts.

Precisely Nigüelas is recovering its old flour mills -some of them, like the one in Alquería de los lentos, with its machinery in perfect working condition- to turn them into rural lodgings from which to enjoy placidly the old customs and the impressive views from this balcony of the valley.

Besides, Nigüelas has a 15th century oil mill, which is the oldest and best preserved in Spain. And not only that, but it is a pleasure to walk through its Moorish streets, recently paved, drink water from the 16th century cistern in the Church Square, or enjoy the romantic garden, annexed to the Town Hall, which is located in a house also from the 16th century.

As if all this were not enough, Nigüelas has another peculiarity and that is that its inhabitants are real music lovers; not in vain, here was formed the first school of music in Andalusia and also has a municipal band, choir, rondalla, dance group and some reputable meetings of polyphony that are held every year.

Unfortunately, the fire that affected this region two years ago destroyed the century-old walnut and chestnut trees but, according to Santiago López, the village still has its almond and olive trees and continues to be the main producer of seeds on the plain. "Besides, we have not committed too many urbanistic barbarities and we are not going to allow that, because we want to preserve our valley".

Healthy living

The same happens with the town of Pozo Alcón in Jaén, a living town that subsists mainly on the agro-alimentary and service sectors. Olive oil is its star product, but it also produces other delicacies, such as hams and sausages, wines, artisan cheeses, mountain honey, pastries, etc. Livestock farming is also important, highlighting the delicious Segureño lamb and choto or cabrito, as well as having a traditional craft: the esparto grass.

Its mayor, Carmen Escudero, says that it was the mayor of Palafrugell, a town with which they are twinned, since many Poceños emigrated there during the 70s and 80s, who convinced her to go to the Bigastro meeting where the Protocol of Intentions was signed to join the slow movement. "I found it very interesting to promote good living without leaving behind new technologies, to make cities much more livable, to preserve, promote and spread our traditions; in short, a whole philosophy of healthy living".

Escudero adds that at the end of the month he will give an account of his initiative and achievements, such as the total purification of waste water, a clean point for waste, a pavilion with hot water from solar panels, adhesion to Agenda 21 or the Guadalinfo Internet centre, as well as asking the Board for a photovoltaic plant and an eco-park.

"But the most important thing", he says, "is the awareness of the neighbours and the education of young people. We already do activities in the school and high school and I will also meet with the employers and other groups. Now - he adds - we want to control water consumption, revitalize the historic center and make some well-signaled tourist routes, as well as recover small food production, as a variety of beans typical of here that is being lost".

The mayor is totally identified with the slow movement, because "promoting the culture of good living with respect for the rhythms of life, without renouncing technological advances, is very important, as is instilling an education in the taste for food and thus obtaining the pleasure of the small things that make life much more pleasant".