HOYOCASERO, Spain (Reuters) - Cupid can always use a little encouragement, especially in a remote Spanish village.
With that in mind, about 150 women traveled by bus to Hoyocasero on Saturday in response to an Internet plea from men tired of being alone.
Commonly known as “una caravana de mujeres” (a caravan of women), the travelers were met with flowers by cheering men eager for a love match -- or at least a good party.
For the 400 residents of the isolated mountain village of Hoyocasero, a mass invite seemed like a good idea in the face of a declining population. The “caravan” appeal was first tried 20 years ago by a similarly love-lorn Spanish village and has since been used in dozens of places across the country.
“Meeting someone this way, it’s more rustic and authentic ... it’s easier to get to know someone face to face,” said 32-year-old farmer Cesar del Rio, whose family has lived in Hoyocasero for centuries.
He hopes to be able to offer some lucky woman a new life in this village located about 100 km west of Madrid.
“The idea that living in the country is all work is just a myth ... this is a slow simple life, and there’s not a lot of hard work.”
The young people in Hoyocasero, along with many other rural communities in Spain, have quit the countryside in favor of jobs in towns. Some villages have been abandoned completely.
To show prospective partners their rural skills some of the men, who are mostly cattle farmers, leapt onto horses to demonstrate riding skills. The display was followed by a feast of regional culinary delicacies -- beans, a meat stew and locally-made sweets -- before a dance late into the night.
The organizers hope some couples will hit it off, settle here and eventually have children. The local school is already under threat of closure because there are not enough pupils.
In the days of Internet dating, some people feel such “caravans” are no longer needed.
“It’s not really necessary to (meet people) this way any more. The thing is, it’s more fun,” said Laura Martin, 27, who was hoping for “a laugh, friendship, maybe something more.”
“It seems to me that there are lot of older men who are interested but we younger women want our freedom and, here in the village, the men want to come straight down to business,” she said, surrounded by a group of giggling girl friends.
Others had stopped off at the village to watch the party.
“There are a lot of single people in this village, but they’re all getting on a bit ... we’ll see if anything juicy comes our way,” said Jose Maria Martin, a 45-year-old construction worker, dressed in bikers’ leathers.