| Mariano Navas (left) with a woman at the blind date. (Reuters)
El Hoyo de Pinares (Spain), Sept. 22 (Reuters): Concerned by the high numbers of single people in his small town in central Spain, a lonely farmer brought in five busloads of women for a mass blind date today.
Mariano Navas, 46, has been recruiting for weeks by publicising his mobile phone number and the message: “Don’t be sad. Sign up if you want to get married.”
“We’ve got 400 women coming and about 150 men,” said Navas, resplendent in a wide-brimmed hat festooned with pink scarves.
The men were mostly from El Hoyo de Pinares or nearby towns, while the women were brought in from Madrid.
El Hoyo de Pinares, with a population of 2,700, is hardly isolated. The town is 85 km from Madrid, albeit partly on winding mountain roads, and only 50 km from the provincial capital Avila. In the summer, and when there are fiestas, the population easily swells to 10,000.
But the farmer insists there are deep social divides between men and women which his own type of fiesta can overcome.
“The problem with this country is that men are only interested in football and, excuse my language, tarts, while the women have different priorities,” he said.
Few others seemed to agree there was a problem, but they were all happy to take part in the reception. “There are single men here, just as there are single women and there’s nothing wrong with the women — I’m married to one,” said the mayor, Fausto Santamaria Estevez. “Of course, this is good for the town and we’ll get a lot of publicity.”
His much younger deputy, Carlos Javier Galan, was taking more of a personal interest. “I’ve got a girlfriend but I can always have a look,” he said grinning.