The story of the last nomad families in the heart of Spain and Europe.
The Alarcon family is one of the few remaining families who still work as nomadic shepherds in Spain. In Europe, the phenomenon of transhumance has survived for centuries: families of shepherds that migrate through the territory by foot with their animals in search of better pastures, climate and living conditions. In Spain, close to 150 families survive as nomad shepherds. Twice a year, Antonio, Maria and their two sons walk close to 200 km across eight days with their hundreds of sheep from Fatima (Granada) to Las Navas de San Juan (Jaen). During these journeys, they live in the middle of nature, in forests, on the slopes of mountains, enduring hard living conditions and extreme weather along ancient Spanish paths known as “Canadas Reales”.
The project is an intimate and poetic portrait of this particular nomad family. The images flow between documentary and evocative language because it is not only a description of how they live but also a view into a rural and travelling atmosphere.
Spain is the only European country that maintains a network of footpaths that exceed 125,000 km. Until the early nineteenth century, 5 million heads of cattle roamed these corridors. Today there are only about 150,000 heads of cattle. The tradition is being threatened by several factors, including the scarcity of public aid and the difficulty replacing the older generation of shepherds. The result is that most families are about to abandon transhumance. Paradoxically, this livestock activity that follows ancient tradition and historical trails, represents an opportunity for more ecological and sustainable livestock.