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A Small Town In Spain Launches UNESCO Bid For Its Outdoor Chats

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Neapolitan pizza, camel racing and Finnish sauna culture - all on the list of treasures that are recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. One town in the south of Spain wants its cultural tradition added to that list.

FERNANDO GARCIA: (Non-English language spoken).

SIMON: That's Fernando Garcia. He's a journalist from Algar, a city of about 1,400 people. Almost every night, his neighbors and family sit outside their homes and share stories from their day. It's become a tradition known as the charlas al fresco or outdoor chats.

GARCIA: (Non-English language spoken).

SIMON: He says Algar is a place where the doors are always open and the people are warm and welcoming. The tradition of charlas al fresco happened before and sometimes after dinner. It's a chance for the community to share all kinds of local news, like when one of the locals won a $20,000 - euro - lottery prize. Mr. Garcia says that as more people use social media, less people are going outside to talk in person.

GARCIA: (Non-English language spoken).

SIMON: Fernando Garcia says he hopes UNESCO will grant them world heritage status to help keep the tradition alive. Even during the pandemic, the simple act of going outside to talk, 6 feet apart and with a mask on, was beneficial to many of the older residents of Algar.

GARCIA: (Non-English language spoken).

SIMON: And he says even if they're not recognized by UNESCO, they still gained something.

GARCIA: (Non-English language spoken).

SIMON: He says he's happy his small hometown is getting attention. And once it's safe to travel again, maybe tourists can even join in their nightly outdoor chats. Fernando Garcia of Algar, Spain.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.