Patios, support zones

Patios, support zones
2013. Patio Celeste, in Moreno de Mora Street, inhabited by several families, in La Línea. Photograph: Beatriz Díaz Martínez © Beatriz Díaz Martínez

Patios, support zones

In the new city of La Línea support among families was essential to get ahead. José Sánchez explains:

«The neighbours were like a family. When the east wind came in for thirty days and the fishermen couldn’t go to sea, my mother would get out some pans and fill them from the big pot to share out. “With a little more water it’ll go round”, she used to say.»

When La Línea was set up as a workers neighbourhood, many owners of farm buildings rented them out partitioned, giving rise to some of the characteristic patios in La Línea. Other patios were created when house or shacks were built close to one another. Communal wells and latrines were built in the middle.

Swapping and small scale trading took place in the patios, and many women set out their black market goods. Teresa Almagro’s mother would read: «In the evening, the neighbours would sit in the patio around my mother and she would read out serialised novels. If something sad happened in the story they would cry together and if it was funny they all would laugh». And there were private schools there. Antonio Casablanca studied in a school set up in a neighbour from the patio’s room:

«The 25 or 30 neighbours around the patio had children at that little school. The teacher had come from the red (Republican) zone. We all helped him. My mother would pay him with tobacco and other goods from Gibraltar.»

In this city, the patios have been a melting pot for socialization and support for nutrition, games, labour and birth and bringing up children, exchange of knowledge and rituals related to the life cycle. They were also a characteristic relationship space in Gibraltar; although their layout was different given the housing limitations in the colony.