Luis

Although Luis has already celebrated his 76th birthday, he is considered to be one of the most active citizens of Ferrol. While not windsurfing, he can be found engaging in various outdoor activities, sharing the ideas with the youth or spending time with his grandchildren. Since always, Luis’ life has been full of ideas which not only turned into reality but are still being practiced nowadays.  

‘Our family is lucky. When I was a little boy my father won in a lottery 187 500 pesetas (1 100 Eur). It was a lot of money at that time and with this money he opened a small stationery store. Somehow, that was the beginning of our life. Together with my brother we would carry 50 packs of paper up the staircase working all day long. After several years, our family took another, bigger place in Ferrol and we were increasing quickly, making good money. It was Papelería Ferrolana, in front of Corte Inglés’. 

Luis was one of seven siblings. The numerous family used to spend every summer in the beautiful village of Riaño, in the foothills of the Picos de Europa. Unfortunately due to the construction of a dam and a reservoir in the 1980s, the village disappeared underwater and only remained in photos and beautiful memories of Luis and his family.

‘We had the best time of our youth there. Unfortunately, the government decided to build a reservoir and our beloved town was covered by the water, which made a strong impact on us, because even when we were older, we were going there from time to time to visit it. Later a new town was built, with the same name, but for us it is not the same’.

Until the age of 25, Luis helped his family by working in the shop. After some time however, as his passion towards sports was developing, he decided to start selling sport articles. He found the right place and eventually equipped it with tennis, archery, golf or even windsurfing articles. Right from the beginning, Luis’ head was full of ideas which he was constantly bringing to life one step at the time.

‘Once upon a time I was walking around and I saw a nice field. There were only horses there and it was a pity because it would be a great place to play golf. I looked for the owner and asked him to rent us the field. We were 16 friends. We agreed on the price with the owner. We rented it with our friends and worked on it every day to prepare the field. At the beginning we had only one hole. Then we made more, up to 18 holes. Then there were more and more people and we needed another place. We moved to another place and it is still in use – Club de golf Campomar.

One day I took a fishing net and went to a school and asked the Physical Education teacher if I could make a golf class for the students. I put a net and a piece of artificial grass in the gym, gave kids golf clubs and balls and they were hitting the balls towards the net. Everyone wanted to try. Also the teacher. The next teacher said he wanted to become a member of the golf club’.

Luis remembers the time when one of his friends gave him a windsurfing board for the very first time. Back then he could not have expected that this sport would become a major passion and his main activity in the future. Together with the friends, they tried to make use of that strange, new board but nobody succeeded. Finally, a little frustrated but curious, Luis went to a library and found a book about the windsurf technique.

‘There was one sentence explaining how to position the sail against the wind, thanks to which I managed to start surfing. We bought more boards but we didn’t have enough space to put them in the shop. We found a little house by the water and rented it. That’s how we started our windsurfing association Club Ferrolvento Windsurf. I still teach windsurfing nowadays’.

A Sport shop, golf club and windsurfing club were merely the beginning. Just like any other initiative, Luis’ story with cars started in a similar way. One day together with a friend of his, two boys decided to open a car association called Escudería Automovilística Ferrol. They cooperated with one of the dealers and eventually would open their own office at the age of 20. 

‘We decided to make a race. In order to do that, we had to prepare the streets in Ferrol, talk with the town hall and police and get all the permissions. The race’s tour went along the wall of the Arsenal – from the Post Office (Correos) to the harbour and back. During the first race we had eight or nine cars. It was spectacular, people were cheering. The races are organized every year and each year they are getting better. This year we will have the 51st edition of the races – 51° Rallye de Ferrol 2020’.

What are the lessons that Luis have learned throughout all those activities? Looking back, the main advice Luis would like to give to the people is to live intensely, write and make photos to catch the moment, though he mainly regrets that the authorities and organizations do not provide young people with enough activities. Sometimes he goes to the Caranza beach on a sunny day and notices it is empty because children stay home. ‘But it is not only about sports’ he explains.  

‘For example there is an excellent movement of making urban gardens on unused lands, by groups of people. People plant fruit and vegetables together. And we have a lot of land that is left uncared. About 5 years ago in Caranza a group of local people made such an urban garden but after a year or two it disappeared. It’s a pity because with the current situation in the world (in general and with covid) if each person could grow fruit and vegetables by the house, it would be great.’

Luis’ family maintained an entrepreneurial spirit. One of his daughters has a flower shop in Canido, another one has a company that issues licences to drive ships for sailors and his son has a company which repairs buildings. His oldest grandson is 22 and has a company with drones, making videos, photos and reportages. 

Years ago people in Galicia were very very poor. They had no money and many people went to South America, on big ships crowded with people carrying only their personal belongings. They arrived in countries like Argentina with their mind to work. They worked so much and they earned money. Sometimes they were opening shops, little factories… Many of them came back years after and with that money they built splendor houses with palm trees in front’.

Indeed years ago the Spanish habitants were emigrating in search of jobs in America. Nevertheless, Luis’ feelings about government directives towards migration issues nowadays are rather mixed. He admits not knowing anyone from Latin America here in Ferrol.

‘I like when young people come because here, in Galicia, the population is getting old and young people are necessary. But there is one thing that I don’t like about immigrants. They come to Spain or other countries and don´t work. And the government gives money to these people – to eat, to sleep. I would prefer that the government makes contracts to these people – for instance you are going to work 2 hours or 4 hours for the community and take the money. Because otherwise one receives the money and does nothing. 

If you work, you get the money, if not – not. Because if a country invites people and gives them money without working, crowds of people will come. Once a friend of mine said “I want to work”. He went to a factory and asked how much he would be earning there. And he refused the offer because the unemployment money that he was receiving was higher than the salary offered in that factory’.

On the other hand, many people who come to Spain cannot work due to the lack of the work permission. Luis admits that what for sure needs some change is the waiting time. He also notices the problem regarding minimum wage and grey economy. 

‘Let’s say I own a company and pay you 500 EUR. But another person comes and says “I’ll do the same work for 200 EUR”, some companies would accept it. Many people come to Spain to pick fruit. They work very hard and they don’t have insurance nor a future pension. If they have an accident, nobody will take care of them. I believe that if someone works, it must be absolutely legal. In many places it’s impossible. One problem that I see with people who come in small boats mostly from Africa, is that they are not professional workers. They are healthy and have no money. But what can they all do in a little place in Spain? Nothing.

They know that in Spain they will be taken care of, they´ll get money and accommodation. It is a big social and political problem. The solution could be to have control points on the border which ask: “Do you come here to work? What’s your profession? Do you have a job here?” If not – it’s impossible to accommodate them’.

The idea Luis has is to build a centralized system that could connect employers and the government with potential employees. He also sees a big potential in the public land in Spain which nobody takes care of. Lots of lands might be rented to the immigrants who could later work and sell the produced crops.

‘Another thing that the government must do is to go to poor countries and help. For example, years ago one company went to Africa and helped to construct houses. Also, it is easy to provide access to water – just put a machine working with solar power and getting the water from underground. If we help the people where they live, they won’t need to leave their homes’.

What is the most important thing in your life?

I think that personally the most important thing is my family.

On a global level – the most important thing would be seeing that everybody has something to eat, to sleep, to work, to think. Humans are the worst species of the planet if we compare with the animals. Because the animals only kill to eat. And people kill for money and other things. I think that the animals are better than us. 

Countries in war have a terrible situation: people dying, shooting, lacking food, destroying houses. Years ago we had such a situation in Spain – during Franco times. Many people died and it was terrible.

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