Photographer Laura C. Vela and Writer Suso Mourelo are the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributors of this photo essay. From the book/project ‘They always go alone, the bugs’. To see Laura’s body of work, click on any image.
Written By Suso Mourelo
Siempre van solos, los bichos (They always go alone, the bugs) is a visual and literary project depicting the fragile and the tiny, those who live on the margins, and what is about to fade. The book invites the viewers to join the pieces to make up their own story according to their own sensitivity.
In the mid-1960s, Sierra Morena’s mining village El Centenillo, closed its mines. Until then, hundreds of men, same as beetles, entered the holes to pull balls of lead and silver, and hope. In a village with a movie theater and a dancing hall, and a threat of death, every day was a day of joy. In 1965 two thousand people -the miners, their families and those who served the village- had to abandon their homes and leave behind their life, their memory and whatever did not fit in a truck.
For years everything was suspended, as in a ghost town. One day, some of those who had lived or dreamed there, returned. They were no longer miners or young ones, but survivors of a shipwreck like Vicente, the man who talks to the animals: he cultivates a wee garden and sleeps in a hut and after years of loneliness and social abandonment resembles a tireless dung beetle that shoves its treasure into the cave. Its noisy solitude is filled with nightingales, the scent of rockrose, abandoned objects in the houses, the voices of people who lived there, the flowers that he cuts with black hands to beautify his home, and the little lady who loved insects and came out of an ancient Japanese tale to become, maybe, real.
There are two versions of a place: the one we build with other’s words and the one we live in.
Photographer Laura C. Vela’s mother was born in the village, where she spent her summers as a child, to return in 2018. That year, author Suso Mourelo moved to Sierra Morena to live in nature. After meeting, they felt that they had to create something together, and came back at different times to a cracked house to wander, search, feel, and listen before all vanished.
We are six, six brothers. A woman told us that all of us, our distant cousins in Sicily, in Greece and in Egypt, came from the same mother, a twig, the gift for humanity that Athena gave to Zeus.
There were six of us, the only ones in the village. There was no village yet. Sometimes shepherds came, goats with goat herds. A man and his little boy: they picked olives, they sat under our branches, they ate cheese and bread, they picked olives. They would fill the sack and leave.
Later came the wagons. During the day, the miners went into the holes, dug the soil and removed stones; at night, they slept under the wagons. Later houses were built. Then the women came. Sometimes they showed up to look for olives.
The men dug more holes. They brought machines, logs, wheelbarrows and tools. Every day they took out bags of mud, and behind us a little mountain grew. Our cousins, wild olive trees, looked at us from the distance up in the mountains. There were many of them. We’re only six olive trees. The hole was getting bigger, a tunnel of giant beetles with two legs and two arms. The little mountain grew up. The soil was up to our ankles. Then to the knees, embraced our waists.
One day it covered our backs. Another day only our fingers came out of the ground, pointing to the sky. And one evening, our branches were buried too.
There are only six of us, the dry branches, the withered fingers. Buried here.
The man carries pinecones, branches, splinters of smell; lights a fire in my belly, turns on the radio. The dog jumps, woauf, entangles the man’s legs, He shall feed His flock
like a shepherd, I light up a treasure, orange light on my ash-black body, fsshhhhh, where are you going crazy, take out that log, this is a treasure!, a cradle, oak goddess, turn up the volume, He shall gather the lambs with His arm, the dog jumps crazy, the man feeds me another pineapple, ah, Messiah, Messiah, the dog dances, and carry them in His bosom, I light up the night, the night ends in the cabin, orange, red, yellow, woofuauf woof, green, gold, and shall gently lead those that are with Young.
It smelled like a party. Scent of coffee, dinners, dance, sweat, laughter, secrets, desire. At midnight, when the casino doors were opened to farewell, aromas flew and soaked my infinite skin. There were many nights like that. In summer, in fall, in spring. In spring they smelled of rockrose and sex. In the cold, of firewood and leather.
Every day smelled good, of food, sweat, young skin, blood, eucalyptus, and manure. One winter the smells left, locked in trucks. It only smelled of rain and me.
Other fragrances came back, slowly: small ones, some new, some old: smoke, food, a fireplace.
My infinite skin was looking for drops to soak up in.
Leftover lead pipes [unusable]
3 tin boxes, various sizes 
A sideboard [without handles]
A saucepan [dented]
A three-legged stool [one burned]
A burlap sack
Wooden figures [cut with a knife]
A jug [broken spout]
[Register of Abandoned Stuff, House 24]
All images © Laura C. Vela
Text © Suso Mourelo
Laura C. Vela And Suso Mourelo
Available in Spanish
By Suso Mourelo
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