Las Hurdes

A thin layer of fertile soil now covers the plots.
The first year sees an abundant harvest, but then the soil is exhausted.
There's no nitrogen and it turns sterile.
All the plots in Las Hurdes are thin bands...
...beside a river.
Winter storms can destroy the work of a whole year.
A characteristic winding river in Las Hurdes...
...with tiny plots beside it.
With no money or domestic animals...
....the Hurdanos have no fertiliser.
They have to go up into the hills to look for it.
That's what this family is doing.
The way is hard and footwear is scarce.
The best fertiliser is made by the Hurdanos themselves...
...from the dry leaves of the strawberry tree.
They fill their sacks with the precious leaves.
But there are many snakes hereabouts.
This villager was bitten a few days ago...
...while collecting leaves.
The bite itself is hardly ever mortal.
But, by trying to cure themselves, the Hurdanos sometimes die.