The story of Luis
Although Luis has already turned 76, he is considered one of the most active citizens of Ferrol. If he doesn’t windsurf, he can be found participating in various outdoor activities, sharing ideas with the youth or spending time with his grandchildren. Luis’s life has always been full of ideas that not only came to fruition, but are still practiced today.
“Our family is lucky. When I was little, my father won 187,500 pesetas (1,100 euros) in a lottery. It was a lot of money at that time and with that money he opened a small store – paperstore. In a way, that was the beginning of our life. Together with my brother we carried packages of paper up and down the stairs, working all day. After several years, our family bought another bigger place in Ferrol and we grew rapidly, earning a lot of money. It was the Papelera Ferrolana, in front of El Corte Inglés”.
"My father won in a lottery. With that money he opened a small store – paperstore. In a way, that was the beginning of our life."
Luis was one of 7 brothers. The large family spent every summer in the beautiful town of Riaño, on the threshold of the Picos de Europa. Unfortunately, due to the construction of a dam and a reservoir in the 1980s, the town disappeared under water and only remained in the photos and beautiful memories of Luis and his family.
‘There we spent the best of our young lives. Unfortunately, the government decided to build a swamp and our town, which we loved so much, was covered by water, which caused us a strong impact, because even when we were older, we returned from time to time to visit it. Later they built a new town, with the same name, but for us it is not the same.’
Until he was 25 years old, Luis helped his family by working in the store. However, after a while, as his passion for sports developed, he decided to start selling sporting goods. He found a nice place and equipped it with items for tennis, archery, golf and even windsurfing. From the beginning, Luis’s head was full of ideas that he constantly brought to life step by step.
“One time I was walking, I saw a nice field. There were only horses and it was a shame because I thought it would be a great place to play golf. I looked for the owner and asked him to rent us the field. We were with 16 friends. We agreed the price with the owner. We rented it with our friends and we worked on it every day to prepare the field. At first we only had 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 that is still in use – Campomar Golf Club. One day I took a fishing net and went to a school and asked the Physical Education teacher if he could give a golf lesson for the students. I put up the net and a piece of artificial turf in the gym, gave the kids golf clubs and balls and they were hitting the balls into the net. They all wanted to try. Also the teacher. The next day he said that he wanted to become a member of the golf club.”
Luis remembers the moment when one of his friends gave him a windsurfing board for the first time. At the time he could not have expected that this sport would become a great passion and a main activity of his in the future. Along with his friends, he tried to make use of this strange new board, but no one succeeded. Finally, a bit frustrated but curious, Luis went to a library and found a book on windsurfing technique.
“I came across a sentence that explained how to set the sail against the wind, thanks to which I was able to start surfing. We bought more boards but didn’t have enough space to put them in the store. We found a little house by the water and rented it. This is how we started our windsurfing association Club Ferrolvento Windsurf. Today, I still teach windsurfing.”
A sports shop, a golf club and a windsurfing club were just the beginning. Like any other initiative, Luis’s story with cars began in a similar way. One day, together with a friend of his, he decided to open an automobile association called Escudería Automovilística Ferrol. They cooperated with one of the distributors and eventually opened their own office at the age of 20.
“We decided to hold a race. For that we had to prepare the streets of Ferrol, talk to the town hall and the police and get all the permits. The route of the race was along the wall of the Arsenal, from the Post Office to the port and vice versa. During the first race we had eight or nine cars. It was spectacular, people cheered. The races are organized every year and every year they are better. This year we will have the 51st edition of the races – 51° Rallye de Ferrol 2020”.
What are the lessons that Luis has learned throughout all these activities? Looking back, the main advice that Luis would like to give people is to live intensely, write and take photos to capture the moment, although he mainly regrets that authorities and organizations do not offer enough activities to young people. He sometimes goes to Caranza beach on a sunny day and notices that it is empty because the children stay at home. “But it’s not just about sports,” he explains.
“For example, there is an excellent movement to make urban gardens on unused land, by groups of people. People plant fruits and vegetables together. And we have a lot of land that is abandoned. About 5 years ago in Caranza a group of neighbors made an urban garden of this type, but after one or two years it disappeared. It’s a shame because with the current situation in the world (in general and with the covid) if each person could grow fruits and vegetables at home, it would be great”.
Luis’s family maintained an entrepreneurial spirit. One of his daughters runs a flower shop in Canido, another runs a business that issues boating licenses to sailors, and his son runs a building repair business. His eldest grandson is 22 years old and has a company with drones, making videos, photos and reports.
“Years ago people in Galicia were very, very poor. I had no money and many people went to South America, in large ships full of people who only took their personal belongings. They arrived in countries like Argentina with their minds set to work. They worked hard and earned money. Sometimes they opened shops, small factories… Many returned years later and with that money they built splendid houses with palm trees in front”.
In fact, years ago, the Spanish inhabitants emigrated in search of work in America. However, Luis’s feelings about the government’s directives on immigration issues are currently quite 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 aging and young people are necessary. But there is one thing I don’t like about immigrants. They come to Spain or other countries and do not work. And the government gives these people money: to eat, to sleep. I would prefer the government to make a contract with these people; For example, you are going to work 2 hours or 4 hours for the community and receive the money. Because otherwise one receives the money and does nothing. ‘If you work, you receive the money, if not – no. Because if a country invites people and gives them money without working, crowds will come. Once, a friend told me “I want to work.” He went to a factory and asked how much he would earn there. And he rejected 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 lack of a work permit. Luis admits that what surely needs some change is the waiting time. He also warns about the problem of the minimum wage and the submerged economy.
”Suppose I am the owner of a company and I pay you 500 EUR. But another person comes and says “I’ll do the same job for 200 euros”, some companies would accept it. Many people come to Spain to pick fruit. They work very hard and have no insurance or future pension. If they have an accident, no one will take care of them. I think that if someone works, it must be absolutely legal. In many places it is impossible. One problem I see with the people who come by boat, mainly from Africa, is that they are not professional workers. They are healthy and have no money. But what can everyone do in a small corner of Spain? Nothing. They know that in Spain they will be cared for, they will receive money and accommodation. It is a big social and political problem. The solution could be to have checkpoints at the border where it asks: “Are you coming here to work? What is your profession? Do you have work here? Otherwise, it is impossible to accommodate them.’
The idea that Luis has is to build a centralized system that can connect employers and the government with potential employees. He also sees great potential in public land in Spain that no one is taking care of. Much land could be rented to immigrants who could then work and sell the crops produced.
“Another thing the government should do is go to poor countries and help. For example, years ago a company went to Africa and helped build houses. Plus, it’s easy to provide access to water: just put in a solar-powered machine and get the water from the ground. If we help people where they live, they won’t have to leave their land.”
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 to see that everyone has the opportunity to eat every day, sleep under a roof, work for something decent and think. Humans are the worst species on the planet when compared to animals. Because animals only kill to eat. And people kill for money and other things. I think animals are better than us.
Countries at war have a terrible situation: people dying, shooting, without food, houses destroyed. Years ago we had a situation like this in Spain, during the Franco era. A lot of people died and it was terrible.”