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 information of medicinal herbs.
“I’m a baby of Pachamama, Mom Earth. Earth is all the things 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 combat for the suitable to land, training and freedom.
We used to dwell beneath a rental system the place we had a landlord who delineated the areas for us to occupy and to dwell 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 12 months. These had been very highly effective moments for a young person.
By way of the method of reclaiming our territory I started to suppose extra about find out how to make my historical past and the historical past of my folks 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 indicate 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 folks. I noticed that many individuals had been speaking about our mountains, our tradition, our meals. And I mentioned to myself: “however that is us: we all know find out how to do it, we’re the guardians of our tradition”.
Tradition, for us, is a part of our every day life, it’s the information and abilities which have been transmitted from technology to technology. We study it from the second we’re born. It’s in our medicinal herbs and in our meals, in our crops.
So I believed, “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 information
When vacationers come to the Casa de Celestina, I welcome them, I introduce them to using medicinal herbs, resembling 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, find out how to dry it, find out how to protect them.
I discuss our weight loss plan. We’ve our completely 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 information is there as a result of it has been transmitted from technology to technology. Our moms, our grandmothers, for me, are the actual treasure troves of biodiversity. Our grandparents are these dwelling libraries in our communities. With out them and with out that information, I couldn’t be talking at the moment.
I’ve discovered, by observing, watching, sharing. You need to be contributing to the land, placing wooden on the hearth, 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 will 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 resembling 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 depart feeling renewed, they depart with a unique view of us. They expertise a dwelling 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 have a look at one another as human beings.
‘I’m attaining my dream’
The pandemic hit my enterprise very exhausting. The reservations I had had 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 exhausting.
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 curious about enhancing my entrepreneurship and growing 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 immediately.
The ILO course offered me with instruments to scale up my enterprise. I’m nonetheless utilizing them at the moment. They included find out how to make a marketing strategy, estimate prices, put together a funds and stock and handle social media. A few of the folks on the course had already began their very own companies, others had been about to start out. It was an opportunity to share and change our experiences. What I favored probably the most had 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 possibility, the chance for improvement, the chance to enhance our high quality of life.”
It can be crucial for my group to see that it’s attainable, that we girls can perform our companies with the instruments now we have. We would not have to attend till now we have all the things, however we will begin with what now we have now.”