“Santiago viure sempre al nostre cor” [Santiago always live in our hearts]. This memorial graffiti is located in one of the abandoned houses of the depopulated village of L’estall, in La Ribagorza, in honor of Santiago Pena Capdevila. He was the last inhabitant who left the place in 2003 after having lived alone since 1978. A life of subsistence, respect and coexistence with the environment, a rough landscape well known by climbers. The ones who were lucky to know him shared his hospitality and knowledge of the area.
“Santiago Domingo” is the name given to a climbing route at Montrebei Gorge, a natural border between Aragón and Catalonia, in his honor in 1981.
Santiago was not only the man who has lived the longest alone in Spain, he was the first winner of the Félix de AzaraAward, in 1996, in recognition of his endeavor to keep the small municipality of L’Estall alive.
After 40 years, Santiago Domingo is the most popular route at the Montsec Range. I have been going to Montrebei Gorge for almost ten years nevertheless, even if I knew Santiago was gone and I could not meet him, I still remember the first time I visited L’estall as a very special moment. These pictures not only symbolises a depopulated village of La España vacía (Sergio del Molino, 2016), but the collective imaginary of the sharing and caring person who welcomes anyone to his home.