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She first rode one of these buses two decades ago, when she was 39 and everything was new: the country, the city, her relationship status.Recently divorced, Quintana rode a handful of caravans with three girlfriends, all Peruvian like her.Fifty women shuffle in their seats, digging into their handbags for mascara and lip gloss and combs.They raise their hands to their heads and smooth down flyaway hairs.One woman unrolls the curler she’s kept in her bangs for hours, and her blond-streaked hair bounces.
Soon the darkened room smells of sweat and beer and tobacco.
The table is quiet, save the clinking of forks and knives.
A woman from Colombia flirts with the man next to her.
He’d heard about a town in Aragon whose young, single men had few dating options; in 1985, they invited a bus of women to visit for dinner and a party.
The caravan was a success; a dozen couples married, and a former town mayor is the child of one of those couples. Rural Spain has long captured the country’s imagination, portrayed in literature as otherworldly, sublime.
Guadalupe de la Quintana Soles, 60, adjusts her gold jacket and scans the razor-flat plain beyond the plaza.