Indigenous entrepreneur Celestina Ábalos runs a tourism enterprise within the UNESCO World Heritage website of Quebrada de Humahuaca in Jujuy province, northern Argentina, sharing her group’s tradition and data of medicinal herbs.
“I’m a toddler of Pachamama, Mom Earth. Earth is every little thing to us. It’s life. We can’t conceive of ourselves with out her. My group dates again 14,000 years. On behalf of 60 households, I led a 20-year struggle for the appropriate to land, schooling and freedom.
We used to reside below a rental system the place we had a landlord who delineated the areas for us to occupy and to reside in, each for sowing crops and elevating cattle. It was a life very a lot ruled by what the grasp mentioned, by the area you needed to occupy, and by what I noticed my mother and father having to pay on the finish of every yr. These have been very highly effective moments for a young person.
By the method of reclaiming our territory I started to assume extra about methods to make my historical past and the historical past of my folks identified. I’ve all the time seen, and I proceed to see within the media, the stigma that’s positioned on us indigenous peoples. I needed to point out and make the opposite facet of the story identified. That motivated me however I used to be pondering: “How do I do it, how do I present this?”
‘We’re the guardians of our tradition’
In 2003, our mountain valley, the Quebrada de Humahuaca, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage website. This marked a milestone within the historical past of our folks. I noticed that many individuals have been speaking about our mountains, our tradition, our meals. And I mentioned to myself: “however that is us: we all know methods to do it, we’re the guardians of our tradition”.
Tradition, for us, is a part of our each day life, it’s the data and abilities which were transmitted from era to era. We study it from the second we’re born. It’s in our medicinal herbs and in our meals, in our crops.
So I assumed, “Why not dare to do what I do know, what I’ve realized?” That’s how my tourism enterprise, a tea home known as the Casa de Celestina, was born.
Sharing ancestral data
When vacationers come to the Casa de Celestina, I welcome them, I introduce them to the usage of medicinal herbs, akin to mate, which we drink within the morning and within the afternoon to energise ourselves. I discuss which herb we take after we are sick, when to reap it, methods to dry it, methods to protect them.
I discuss our eating regimen. We have now our totally different corns right here and we make our personal flour, so we’ve got flour for soup, flour for tamales, flour to make cookies, flour to make our juices, our drinks, flour to make our pastries
All that data is there as a result of it has been transmitted from era to era. Our moms, our grandmothers, for me, are the actual treasure troves of biodiversity. Our grandparents are these residing libraries in our communities. With out them and with out that data, I couldn’t be talking as we speak.
I’ve realized, by observing, watching, sharing. You must be contributing to the land, placing wooden on the hearth, lighting an oven and making your providing. You must be there at sundown, when the goats are already again within the corral and the grandparents are sitting down.
The vacationers put together a dish with me. It may be a culli corn flour pudding, with nuts, with chocolate chips. Or they will additionally put together a scrumptious meal, quinoa croquettes full of goats cheese, with sautéed potatoes, rosemary and herbs. Or we are able to additionally put together a llama casserole.
Then we go to my city and our church, which dates again to 1789. We go to the trail of herbs, the place additionally they find out about different medicinal herbs akin to Muna-Muna, which is for bruises, for muscle pains.
They get to know our tales, our ceremonies, just like the dispatch of souls or the story of how we reclaimed our territory. I share what my day is like and what I do. After which we go down and we drink tea collectively and eat the pudding they’ve ready.
I renew their energies with the herbs that we’ve got additionally introduced from the trail. They depart feeling renewed, they depart with a unique view of us. They expertise a residing tradition, the essence of tradition.
That’s what I like about tourism, about those that come to go to us. You see how this relationship of tradition goes past sharing an expertise. It’s about taking a look at one another another way, to take a look at one another as human beings.
‘I’m reaching my dream’
The pandemic hit my enterprise very arduous. The reservations I had have been cancelled. The little financial savings I had went to feeding my household. I felt so impotent. The federal government mentioned that there have been subsidies for entrepreneurs, however I didn’t qualify and needed to proceed to pay taxes. Many small enterprise entrepreneurs have had a really troublesome time. It was very arduous.
I used to be invited to participate in a digital Begin and Enhance Your Enterprise (SIYB) course, run by the Worldwide Labour Group (ILO), that was going to happen between October and November 2021. I used to be very focused on bettering my entrepreneurship and creating a marketing strategy as a result of it was one of many explanation why I couldn’t entry loans and subsidies. So, I mentioned sure straight away.
The ILO course supplied me with instruments to scale up my enterprise. I’m nonetheless utilizing them as we speak. They included methods to make a marketing strategy, estimate prices, put together a finances and stock and handle social media. A few of the folks on the course had already began their very own companies, others have been about to start out. It was an opportunity to share and alternate our experiences. What I preferred probably the most have been the course manuals. They’re very, very helpful, superb.
My enterprise is steadily bettering. I’m reaching my dream.
I nonetheless bear in mind a speech that I gave a very long time in the past to Argentina’s then President Néstor Kirchner. I instructed him: “We, the indigenous peoples, need a possibility, the chance for growth, the chance to enhance our high quality of life.”
It’s important for my group to see that it’s attainable, that we girls can perform our companies with the instruments we’ve got. We would not have to attend till we’ve got every little thing, however we are able to begin with what we’ve got now.”