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 baby of Pachamama, Mom Earth. Earth is every part 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 battle for the proper to land, training and freedom.
We used to stay below a rental system the place we had a landlord who delineated the areas for us to occupy and to stay in, each for sowing crops and elevating cattle. It was a life very a lot ruled by what the grasp mentioned, by the house 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 an adolescent.
By way of the method of reclaiming our territory I started to assume extra about the right way to make my historical past and the historical past of my individuals recognized. I’ve at all times seen, and I proceed to see within the media, the stigma that’s positioned on us indigenous peoples. I wished to point out and make the opposite aspect of the story recognized. 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 individuals. 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 the right way 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 discovered?” 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 speak about which herb we take once we are sick, when to reap it, the right way to dry it, the right way to protect them.
I speak about our food regimen. Now we have our totally different corns right here and we make our personal flour, so now we have 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 at this time.
I’ve discovered, by observing, watching, sharing. You need to be contributing to the land, placing wooden on the fireplace, lighting an oven and making your providing. You need to 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 filled with 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 study 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 now we have additionally introduced from the trail. They go away feeling renewed, they go away with a special 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 one another otherwise, to take a look at one another as human beings.
‘I’m attaining 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 tough 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 enhancing my entrepreneurship and creating a marketing strategy as a result of it was one of many the reason why I couldn’t entry loans and subsidies. So, I mentioned sure immediately.
The ILO course offered me with instruments to scale up my enterprise. I’m nonetheless utilizing them at this time. They included the right way to make a marketing strategy, estimate prices, put together a funds and stock and handle social media. A number of the individuals on the course had already began their very own companies, others have been about to start out. It was an opportunity to share and trade our experiences. What I favored probably the most have been the course manuals. They’re very, very helpful, superb.
My enterprise is steadily enhancing. I’m attaining my dream.
I nonetheless keep in mind a speech that I gave a very long time in the past to Argentina’s then President Néstor Kirchner. I advised him: “We, the indigenous peoples, need a chance, the chance for growth, the chance to enhance our high quality of life.”
It is necessary for my group to see that it’s doable, that we girls can perform our companies with the instruments now we have. We wouldn’t have to attend till now we have every part, however we are able to begin with what now we have now.”