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“My mother was the village's teacher"

Los Telares is nowadays a company running an Ethnographic Park, selling handicrafts and renting rural apartments. This emblematic northern island company was founded in the 1970's by Ms. Maruca Gámez, and is currently run by her only daughter Luisa and family. We have interviewed Luisa to learn a little bit more about this enterpreneur family.

"Los Telares marked a turning point in our family. My mother was the teacher, the traditional school teacher in a small town. Back then my whole world was the school, both as a student and daughter. But everything changed when I was 15 years old. My mother discovered her calling as a businesswoman and from them we would eat, go to sleep and rise with the company, with everything that implied to run and grow a business".

"Definitely, opening a company was terribly difficult. It wasn't like it is right now, it was the 70's. Just imagine the outrage, starting a modern company in Hermigua, and run by a woman, nonetheless! But being an enterpreneur is contagious, even my daughter has set up her own company, eeverde.com, an online Renewable Energies School! That also shows how passionate we are about sustainability. In 1993 I opened one of the first Herbalist's shops in Tenerife. I owned it for 10 years until my mother asked for help here".

"My mother discovered her calling as a businesswoman and from them we would eat, go to sleep and rise with the company..."

"Her legacy to handicrafts was and remains crucial. The first banana leaves pieces made in the island were designed by my mother with the help of Lili Ascanio. Back then in Andalusia they sold rope dolls and donkeys. Those inspired them to make some similar here. They made the banana leaf flowers. I remember meetings of up to 20 women in Vallehermoso! My mother bought the banana and would sit with them to work and try new designs".

"Those were terrible times for the island. La Gomera was in deep crisis and Tenerife, Venezuela... whole families moved there to improve their lives. The "spark" that ignited everything was a conversation with Tomás Cerdeña. He mentioned to my mother that the island would soon be receiving their first daily tourists. A ferry would link Tenerife and La Gomera on the same day, something impossible up to then. He was looking for places where he could take tourists to buy souvenirs on La Gomera. Said and done. In a month her first shop was open for business".

"La Gomera was a sensational discovery for visitors. Tours just kept growing. Our only worry was getting enough products to sell! Shortly afterwards, a German agency asked about lodgings for trekkers, and my mom jumped in into the opportunity. She just requested one year to build them. And there: she had her first apartments".

"A large part of our current efforts today are in improving what we have. It has been many years and renovating is crucial".

"Before, we had to explain the object in the shop, but now our customers can walk through our plantation, see the antiques in the collection, enjoy a fully-functioning gofio watermill... This way of explaining our traditions add value, as culture and effort, to the eyes of our visitors".

“Los Telares grew from handicrafts, from the ties to our culture, and with a social cause: so that local crafts would not be forgotten. We have recently renovated the concept of the store, we have linked it back to it's origin, the landscape of La Gomera. We have done so by creating our Ethnographic Park, which it the project we are fully hands-on. Modern visitors don't fully get what handicrafts are, the effort and history they have. The Ethnographic Park was the logical consequence when trying to fill that gap. Before, we had to explain the object in the shop, but now our customers can walk through our plantation, see the antiques in the collection, enjoy a fully-functioning gofio watermill... This way of explaining our traditions add value, as culture and effort, to the eyes of our visitors".

"I first heard about the Charter when I  I was still living in Tenerife. I received an email explaning that La Gomera would become part of the European Charter. I am fully convinced of the importance of sustainable development, and the Charter was an innitiative I could relate to. Then we had the first meeting, and I was fully on board with it!".

"The Charter inspired us to make surveys and take them very seriously. We are amazed ourselves with the result, we love being valued and guided by our clients! It has made everything easier. Instead of breaking your head thinking where to invest and improve, just listening to what your clients are saying is more than enough clue. We sometimes go further on, trying to deliver extra, but even then, we are inspired by their comments".

"Also as a person, I have learned plenty. Well, i'm sure, even to you, elder people would ask "Who are you from?". It is the traditional way of defining you, placing you on the landscape accordingly to your roots, your family. Even nowadays, at my age, I have to introduce myself as Maruca Gamez daughter. Because here, you belong to your town, your neighbour and, furthermore, your family, and little else".

“Becoming a ECST company made me feel, maybe for the first time, above all, Gomeran. It was a wake up call. It reminds all of us that we are on the same journey, it helps us be an island, it gathers us together. We have connected with companies from all around the island, we have worked together and, most importantly, it has made us feel less lonely in our efforts".

"But to feel more linked to the National Park, that is impossible. The National Park for me has always been the heart of La Gomera. And inside it, it's soul is El Cedro forest, where i spent my childhood Summer holidays. I remember, while the wildifire 5 years ago, my only prayer was that the flames would not get to El Cedro. For me, that would have meant that the whole island had burned away. The Charter has allowed us to do something that I'm very proud of, which is to collaborate, to the best of our capacity, as neighbours and companies, so that the soul of La Gomera remains untouched".

 

Company: Los Telares.

Activity: Lodgings and Ethnographic Park.

Address: Carretera General, nº 10. Hermigua. La Gomera

Company involved with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (La Gomera).

More information: http://www.gomeraexperience.es