Garabandal village

San Sebastian de Garabandal is a small village situated on a slope of the Cantabrian mountains - the immense mountain range that crosses the north of Spain, near the Cantabrian Sea, from which it takes its name.

In 1961, when it all began, there were about 300 inhabitants, spread over some 80 stone houses. There were two municipal schools, one for boys, one for girls, and gave the children some more rudimentary notions, enough for the kind of life they would have The boys, once they were grown, would work on cattle grazing or farming, or on coal mines. The girls, at the age of about 14, at the end of the school period, were to serve as guides to the burricans carrying hay, manure and crops. Each day they climbed the high mountains, on walks that took them a few hours, to carry the meal to their parents and brothers.

Almost totally isolated, his only channel of connection with the rest of the world was then a stony path full of great curves, which descended to Cosio, seven kilometers away, the seat of the parish. From there, heading north, one could reach Torrelavega, Bilbao, and finally over 90 kilometers, the port city of Santander, in the Gulf of Gascony, the provincial capital and residence of the diocesan bishop, was reached.

In this harsh environment, families lived and still live on the produce of the farms, the tiny crops cultivated on the slopes, but mainly cattle grazing. In the morning, it is common to see someone in the family leaving the house early, turning their dark, quiet cows to the higher regions where the grazing areas are. Those who stay, in addition to domestic tasks, are engaged in hay harvesting for winter feeding.

It was a poor and austere life, heavily marked by seasons, sun and snow. None of the comforts now found in most human groups is known there. The houses do not have piped water, and the only heating in the harsh winters is the stove. Supermarkets, shops, cinema, television, telephone, automobile simply do not exist. There is not a single engine in the whole village. Electric power, only for a few hours at night. All the food, including the bread, comes from Cosio, on donkey's back. This was the life of this village, in the year 1961.