No compres más

This is a translation into English.
original en castellano, más abajo

Paula saw with envy how Jose and Luna involved their families. A few vests came from Peru with some open seams, and in addition to many “official” volunteers, Luna’s mother also sewed some of these vests. Her brother lent them his van several times, Jose’s mother the mother of Jose was signing up to everything, and his brothers also turned up round there.

Paula’s parents never turned up there. Paula wanted her family to collaborate even if only buying coffee, but no one drank coffee at home and there were only a few packets of instant coffee for the visits, and even these gradually turned from scarce into non-existent.

What did enter her house was chocolate. When Paula took some chocolate home from the shop / garage, her mother said: ” This chocolate is most expensive, you do not realize? Do not buy any more.”


Paula veía con envidia cómo Jose y Luna involucraron a sus familias. Llegaron unos chalecos de Perú algo descosidos, y además de muchas voluntarias “oficiales, la madre de Luna también cosió parte de esos chalecos. Su hermano prestó varias veces su furgoneta, la madre de Jose se apuntaba a todo, y sus hermanos también pasaron por ahí.

Los padres de Paula no pasaron nunca por allí. Paula quería que su familia colaborara aunque fuera comprando café, pero en su casa nadie bebía café y solo había unos sobres de instantáneo para las visitas, que de escasas se iban convirtiendo en inexistentes.

Lo que sí entraba en su casa era chocolate.

Cuando Paula llevó chocolate de la tienda/garaje, su madre dijo: “Este chocolate es carísimo, no te das cuenta? No compres más.”


This is a quick translation into English.
original en castellano, más abajo

Luna didn’t think her name sounded like a name. Her skin did not look like skin either, but milk, and her hair didn’t look like hair but fire. For the Czechs Luna knew, her name was the name of a hotel in Prague and her looks were from Ireland. But in 1994 Luna did not know any Czech and she had just had her first contact and with what she later knew as Fair Trade.

In 1993 Luna was going out with Jose, a local boy of her neighbourhood who had conquered her by writing poems for her while still in school.
None of them had gone to University – both came from working-class families – and began to work at a very young age, compared with the majority of the people of their generation.

For that reason, unusually for people like them, they were already taking steps to move in together, before hitting 30. And, meanwhile, and while they could afford to, they went away on holiday. In 1993 they went to the Pyrenees, walking on mountains and climbing rocks, which they loved. Although in fact Jose was the only one of the two who loved climbing rocks, but Luna thought that, if it was necessary to climb to be with the boy, climbing it would have to be.

In 1994 they wanted to have seconds for a whole month but that was well over budget. At the same time, it cost just as much to go first to Castellón and then to Murcia for a month as it cost to spend just a single week in the Pyrenees. Thus it was that Luna and Jose ended up in the East, that summer of 1994. Rest, swimming pool, beach, not climbing so much. An excursion to some town or some city brought them to a very pretty store and the shopkeepers explained to them what the business was like. Luna and Jose listened to the shop attendants, they took pamphlets, they inquired and before they realised they were as much in love with Fair Trade as of one another. With paying a fair price for the products, with the knowledge that the money did not get stuck within the many intermediaries, and with the products being artisan, all natural.

In their trip back they did not speak of another thing than to open a store like the one they had just seen, and to make that store the centre of their life. They spent the hours of the trip imagining, anticipating and in fact living it already, a life that could not less be than beautiful, integrating in a single project their personal happiness, as a couple, and working for a fairer world. It was not any effort for them to decide that this was the way of life they wanted, and not the one that had been the only one they had been able to anticipate until then, having to clock on and off in an ugly factory simply to sell their life for money, money that was never going to be sufficiently abundant to compensate the bad moments that happened whenever they thought about how they were loosing/wasting their lives.

A few months later Jose travelled to a conference on Fair Trade, while Luna had to remain in the factory clocking on and off. There he met more people who wanted to set up something on Fair Trade, although Jose and Luna’s dream, a simple store, was too small for those people. But that was not a problem. It was not an inconvenience for Jose and Luna to enlarge their aspirations, to turn the small store into an importing and distributing organisation. There was just one drawback, and it was that the majority of them were involved because of their Christian beliefs and they not only were atheists, but they also felt a certain antagonism against the then prevailing Church.

In this type of projects, before having absolutely nothing, a pile of meetings are had. It was in one of the first of those meetings where Luna and Jose wanted to clarify this aspect to be able to make the first important decision. Nobody ever knew what would have happened if the others had wanted a religious project because, even though there were some priest and some nun in the group, and perhaps because there were more lay people too, all were in agreement that this one project was going to be free of religions.

And soon the priest of Paula’s parish, Father Salvador, said that his community would allow them to use the basement of the Church, to where he had just landed, newly arrived from a not missions in Peru, loaded with ideas and hopes with which to solve the desperation to those people.

The basement of the church in question was a parking space for of vans and trucks, now in disuse. Enormous warehouse, store, meeting room … they could even open up a bar if they wanted.

And they began to work. First was to fund raise. they issued bonds. People bought them and then, when the merchandise arrived, they could buy with them. There were also donations.

For months, Jose, Luna, some more atheists, some priests and nuns and some lay Christians, cleaned the premises, with borrowed scaffolds. The ceiling was in such horrible state that they hung fabrics off the ceiling to cover it. In order to cover the walls, which were not pretty either, they painted panels, paintings that represented the injustices of world-wide trade and the institutions that had been created to fix things and which had soon got corrupted until becoming an important part of the problem. They also painted some bookshelves that would serve as exposition space fo the products, the floor …

The group was varied and mixed, in beliefs and ages. Religious people, atheist people, older people, young people and very young people. All in a hurry, except an older gentleman who had held some political position, or so everyone knew generally, but nobody knew exactly which position. He was very polite and of the old school, one of those people who speak without a foot ahead of the other to go on walking. Without haste. Then one day, one of the first days, in a conversation, he said that those who refused to do the military service or a substitute social work, were the dregs of society. Jose was one of those and he said so. The gentleman looked at him and was silent, polite. And since then he continued dealing Jose with the same respect as until then.

He was also the only one in the group who liked bullfights, but for that reason they did not look badly at him because of that. And he used to say that he who does not have a head has paper and pencil.

They all spent many hours in that parking basement lent by the community of priests to which Father Salvador Salva for close friends, belonged. Some were unemployed and they took that as a job, others like Salva got their communities to consider that Fair Trade comprised an important part of their work. And some like Jose and Luna had a job outside too. Luna was getting up at 6 to go to the factory, left from there at three in the afternoon, from there she went to Languages School and from there she went to the parking basement that was becoming half a shop, half a warehouse. Sometimes she arrived home at ten at night, and other times at midnight. And on the following day, she would return to the begining, with enough energy to continue that way for months. And that was weekdays. The week ends, invented in the cultures that need to program rest, were also spent in the car park all day, sometimes attending fairs and other events, to promote Fair Trade and to try to sell those bonds, to continue fund raising to buy raw materials and the first order.

Jose and Luna stopped going to the mountains and they did not realise because they were experiencing happiness.

Like when Jose gave his first talk. He was so nervous that he was preparing it for days and the last night he forgot to sleep. Luna went with him; she would not missed for anything in the world. During the journey he recited the talk to Luna and if something did not sound well they looked for other words together.

It turned out brilliant, he ended up really pleased with the reception that they gave him and it was a big well up for the two of them.

One of those days in which they did not realise how hungry and tired they were, another volunteer, one lady of the type then known as older, brought a potato omelette and she forced them to stop working to sit down all together at the table and eat it. Perhaps that was the only time they sat down in that premises simply to enjoy something – the omelette was of the best kind – but of course that was not the only time that volunteer told Jose and Luna that they had to marry.

If they ever considered it, they forgot to do it. Luna also forgot the name of one of the nuns who got involved in the project. But she would never forget her, her strange remarks … like when she commented that she had a second home in Laredo, for example. Neither Luna nor Jose had ever had a bicycle because their parents could not pay such a toy, and they never went on holiday while growing up. And with the poverty vote they had heard that nuns and priests had to take, they were surprised that she had a second home, something that for them was not only unattainable, but also unthinkable and, once thought of, unnecessary. None of this was sad to the nun, only a brief comment that was answered with: “But everybody has one!”.

They did not lost hope to see beyond her nun catholic habit and, when they found out that she had attended a conference where Eduardo Galeano had spoken, they invited her for a coffee so that she could tell them about his talk, the talk of such a great celebrity who had taken the trouble to give so far away from home. The nun was still overcoming the good time she had had in a friend’s house, who had a formidable hall, and that brought out coffee with toasts in a divine tray and the butter dish had a precious silverplated look. This is what she spoke about for the first minutes of coffee and Jose and Luna remained speechless and with an idiots look on their faces. In the following hours they felt incapable to ask her anything, and let her continue to tell them her silver-bathed cooking anecdotes to them.

The truth was that that nun also worked, although it was disappointing to see her always disappearing soon, she had things that to do. Luna and Jose did not approve because they still did not realise (later they did) that when you grow older you are acquiring responsibilities with other projects and people, even walking the dog of the neighbour. Luna and Jose lived with their parents until they were twenty-four and as they worked they had some freedom to not doing things in house, apart from their own room.

Luna took her mother shopping with the car every fifteen days, because she realised that they were many at home and she could not walk and bring up milk and other food every day from the supermarket up to the neighbourhood. Also in this way Luna paid. It which was necessary to put money for the expenses of the house.

Even so, the best thing of all the years in that project in the parking space in the basement of a church turned into store, warehouse and importing organization, was without a doubt the people they met. The worst thing in fact was not the nun, but a few Christians who did not understand that they were not, and who never got to fully accept to them as members of the group. ” [untranslatable angry, slang expression], with all the things we did together. We event went together with a friend mine, Jose, Salva and myself to the Pyrenees, (kidding ourselves into) trying to reach the Aneto and it is for that reason that I know that he snores.”


A Luna su nombre no le parecía un nombre. Tampoco su piel parecía piel sino leche, ni su pelo parecía pelo sino fuego. Para los checos que conocían a Luna, su nombre era el nombre de un hotel de Praga y su aspecto de Irlanda. Pero en 1994 Luna no conocía ningún checo y solo acababa de tener su primer contacto con lo que luego conoció como Comercio Justo.

En 1993 Luna salía con Jose, un chico de su barrio que la había conquistado escribiéndole poesías aún estando en la escuela. Ninguno de los dos curso estudios superiores – ambos venían de familias de clase trabajadora – y empezaron a trabajar a una edad muy joven, comparado con la mayoría de la gente de su generación. Por eso, inusualmente para gente como ellos, estaban planeando ya irse a vivir juntos, sin haber cumplido los 30. Y, mientras tanto,y mientras podían permitírselo, se iban de vacaciones.

En 1993 se fueron a Pirineos, a caminar por el monte y escalar por las rocas, que era lo que les molaba. Aunque en realidad lo de escalar solo le molaba a Jose, pero Luna pensaba que, si había que escalar para estar con el chico, pues se escalaba.

En 1994 quisieron repetir todo un mes pero se les salía de presupuesto. Sin embargo irse de vacaciones por el sur estaba tirado de precio, tanto que irse primero a Castellón y luego a Murcia durante un mes costaba lo mismo que una sola semana en Pirineos. Así fue como Luna y Jose acabaron en Levante, aquel verano de 1994. Descanso, piscina, playa, no tanto escalada.

En una excursión a algún pueblo o alguna ciudad entraron en una tienda muy mona y los tenderos les explicaron de que iba la tienda. Luna y Jose escucharon a los que atendían la tienda. Cogieron folletos, se informaron y antes de darse cuenta estaban tan enamorados del comercio justo como el uno del otro. De pagar justamente por los artículos, de saber que no se quedaba el dinero en los muchos intermediarios, y que los productos eran artesanales, todo natural.

En el viaje de vuelta no hablaron de otra cosa que de abrir una tienda como la que habían visto, y de hacer de esa tienda el centro de su vida. Dedicaron las horas del viaje a imaginar, anticipar y de hecho vivir ya, una vida que no podía ser menos que hermosa, integrando en un solo proyecto su felicidad personal, de pareja, y de trabajo por un mundo más justo. No les costó ningún esfuerzo decidir que era esa la forma de vida que querían, y no la que hasta entonces había sido la única que habían podido anticipar, teniendo que fichar en una fea fábrica para simplemente vender su vida por dinero, dinero que nunca iba a ser lo suficientemente abundante para compensar el mal rato que pasaban cada vez que pensaban en como estaban perdiendo su vida.

Unos meses más tarde Jose viajó a unas jornadas de Comercio Justo, mientras Luna tuvo que quedarse en la fábrica fichando. Allí conoció a más gente que quería montar algo de comercio justo, aunque el sueño de Jose y Luna, una simple tienda, se les quedaba pequeño. Pero esa no era una pega. Jose y Luna no tuvieron ningún inconveniente en agrandar sus aspiraciones, convertir la pequeña tienda en una organización importadora y distribuidora. Solo había una pega, y era que la mayoría de ellos lo hacían por creencias cristianas y ellos no solo eran ateos, sino que además tenían cierta animadversión por la Iglesia entonces imperante.

En este tipo de proyectos, antes de tener absolutamente nada, se tienen un montón de reuniones. Fue en una de las primeras donde Luna y Jose quisieron aclarar este aspecto para poder tomar la primera decisión importante. Nadie supo nunca qué habría pasado si los demás hubieran querido un proyecto religioso porque, incluso habiendo algún cura y alguna monja en el grupo aquel, quizás porque también había más gente laica, quedaron todos de acuerdo en que aquello iba a ser un proyecto libre de religiones.

Y luego el cura de la parroquia de Paula, el Padre Salvador, dijo que su comunidad le dejaba los bajos de la Iglesia, a donde acababa de aterrizar, recién llegado de Perú, cargado de ideas e ilusiones con las que solucionarles la desesperación a aquella gente.
Los bajos de la iglesia en cuestión era un garaje de furgonetas y camiones, ahora en desuso. Enorme almacén, tienda, sala de reuniones… Hasta un bar podían montar si se lo proponían

Y empezaron a currar. Lo primero fue conseguir dinero, mediante unos bonos. La gente los compraba y luego cuando estuviera aquí la mercancía con ellos compraba. También hubo donaciones.

Durante meses, Jose, Luna, algunos ateos más, algunos curas y monjas y algunos cristianos laicos, limpiaron el local, con andamios prestados. El techo estaba en un estado tan horrible que colgaron telas del techo para taparlo. Para tapar las paredes, que tampoco estaban bonitas, pintaron paneles, pinturas que representaban las injusticias del comercio mundial y las instituciones que se habían creado para arreglar las cosas y que luego se habían corrompido hasta convertirse en parte importante del problema. Pintaron también unas librerías que servirían de estanterías, el suelo,…

El grupo era variado y variopinto, en creencias y en edades. Gente creyente, gente atea, gente mayor, gente joven y gente muy joven. Todos con prisa, excepto un señor mayor que algún cargo político había tenido, o eso sabían todos generalmente, pero nadie sabía cual. Era muy educado y de la vieja escuela, de los que te hablan sin un pie delante para seguir su camino. Sin prisa. Pues un día, de los primeros, en una conversación dijo que los insumisos eran la escoria de la sociedad. Jose era insumiso y así se lo dijo. El señor le miró, y calló, educado. Y desde entonces siguió tratando a Jose con el mismo respeto que hasta entonces.
También era el único del grupo al que le gustaban los toros, pero no por eso le miraban mal. Y solía decir que quien no tiene cabeza tiene papel y lápiz.

Todos pasaron muchas horas en aquel aparcamiento cedido por la comunidad de curas a la que pertenecía el Padre Salvador, Salva para los allegados. Algunos estaban en paro y se tomaron eso como un trabajo, otros, como Salva, consiguieron que su comunidad considerase que el comercio justo formase parte importante de su labor. Y algunos como Jose y Luna tenían un puesto de trabajo fuera también. Luna se levantaba a las 6 para ir a la fábrica. Salía de ella a las tres de la tarde, de allí iba a la escuela de idiomas y de ahí al aparcamiento que estaban convirtiendo en mitad tienda, mitad almacén. A veces llegaba a casa a las diez de la noche, y otras a las doce. Y al día siguiente, vuelta a empezar, con energía suficiente para continuar así durante meses. Y eso era entre semana. Los fines de semana, inventados en las culturas que necesitan programar el descanso, se los pasaban también en el garaje todo el día, a veces con salidas a ferias y demás, a promover el comercio justo y a intentar vender aquellos bonos, para seguir sacando dinero par materiales y el primer pedido.

Jose y Luna dejaron de ir al monte y no se dieron cuenta porque eran felices.

Como cuando Jose dió su primera charla. Estaba tan nervioso que se la estuvo preparando a conciencia durante días y la última noche se le olvidó dormir. Luna le acompañó; no podía perdérselo por nada del mundo y durante el trayecto él iba recitándole a Luna la charla y si algo no sonaba bien buscaban juntos otras palabras.
Le salió estupendamente, él acabó encantado con el recibimiento que le dieron y fue un subidón bien grande para los dos.

Uno de esos días en que no se dieron cuenta de lo hambrientos y cansados que estaban, otra voluntaria, una señora de las que se llamaban entonces mayor, trajo tortilla de patata y les obligó a dejar de trabajar para sentarse todos juntos a la mesa y comerla. Quizás fue la única vez que se sentaron en aquel local simplemente para disfrutar de algo – la tortilla estaba buenísima – pero desde luego que no fue la única vez en que aquella voluntaria les dijo a Jose y a Luna que tenían que casarse.

Si alguna vez lo pensaron, lo de casarse se les olvidó hacerlo. A Luna se le olvidó también el nombre de una de las monjas que se involucraron en el proyecto. Pero nunca se olvidaría de ella, de sus extrañas salidas… como cuando comentó que tenia una segunda casa en Laredo, por ejemplo. Luna y Jose nunca habían tenido bici porque sus padres no podían pagar tal juguete, y nunca se fueron de vacaciones mientras crecían. Y con el voto de pobreza que habían oído que tenían que tomar monjas y curas, se sorprendieron de que ella tuviera una segunda casa, algo que para ellos no solo era inalcanzable, sino impensable y, una vez de pensado, innecesario. No le dijeron todo esto a la monja, solo un breve comentario que fue contestado con un: “Pero si todo el mundo tiene una”.

No perdieron la esperanza de ver más allá de su hábito de monja católica y, cuando se enteraron de que había estado en una conferencia de Eduardo Galeano, la invitaron a un café para que les contara cosas de la ponencia, que tan gran celebridad se había tomado la molestia de dar tan lejos de su tierra. La monja estaba aún sobreponiéndose de lo bien que había estado en casa de una amiga, que tenía un salón formidable, y que les trajo el café con tostadas en una bandeja divina y el mantequillero tenía un aspecto plateado precioso. Habló de todo esto los primeros minutos de café y Jose y Luna se quedaron sin habla y con cara de idiotas. En las siguientes horas se sintieron incapaces de preguntarle nada, y dejaron que les siguiera contando sus anécdotas culinarias bañadas de plata.

La verdad era que aquella monja también curró, aunque desaparecía pronto siempre tenía cosas que hacer. Luna y Jose no lo aprobaban pero aún no se daban cuenta (luego sí) de que cuando te vas haciendo mayor vas adquiriendo responsabilidades con otros proyectos y gente, aunque sea pasear el perro del vecino. Luna y Jose vivían hasta los 24 con sus padres y como trabajaban tenían cierta libertad de no hacer cosas en casa, aparte de su propia habitación. Luna llevaba a su madre a las compras con el coche cada quince días, porque se daba cuenta de que eran muchos en casa y ella no podía andar subiendo leche y demás todos los días desde el supermercado hasta el barrio. Además así lo pagaba Luna, que había que poner dinero para los gastos de la casa.

Aún así, lo mejor de los años en aquel proyecto de aparcamiento en los bajos de una iglesia convertido en tienda, almacén y entidad importadora, fue sin duda la gente que conocieron. Lo peor de hecho no fue la monja, sino unos cuantos cristianos que no entendían que ellos no lo fueran, y que nunca llegaron a aceptarles como miembros de lleno del grupo. “Manda huevos, con la de cosas que hicimos juntos. Si hasta fuimos con un amigo mio, Jose, Salva y yo a Pirineos a querer subir el Aneto (ilusos) y por eso se que ronca.”

Decisions at 19

Paula sat in front of the television set. She had put the video tape
that Carlos the History teacher had lent her and a middle aged man was
talking about the perils of a career in journalism. It was all about the
immediacy of the news story, having to write really quickly, to deliver
a story that had been demanded at 3am that morning, when his boss had
called him at home because an incident was happening right then and he
had to go and cover it.
That was enough for Paula.
Her boyfriend had already asked her to marry him, and Paula was
absolutely sure he would not be happy at all with a wife running out
of the house at three in the morning to cover some news. Besides, to
study journalism she would have to stay in university for five years,
and that if she successfully passed all exams in time. Her boyfriend had
already expressed annoyance at the length of Paula’s studies.
Paula was not so much in a hurry to marry her boyfriend as she was to
move out of home. In any case, a course that would take five years to
finish would not fit her needs. That left out almost all university
possibilities. Of those remaining, only two seemed attractive enough for
her: teaching and business studies.
“There are fewer and fewer children all the time, you know?”, Said Laura
on the phone, when Paula commented these possibilities. “There are
already too many teachers. You’ll just be unemployed when you finish”.
Voila, decision made. Business studies it would be.

She actually did like the prospect of going for business studies. She
had the feeling that it was business and world economics that were the
culprit of all those starving children her Granma kept talking about
every time there was potatoes for lunch. Now she would learn how it all
worked, and that way she would try to fix it all. Or at least she would
understand why every one who had tried before her had failed so miserably.
The paperwork for University began right after all the students got the
results for the final 10 or so exams that they had to take in two days.
One exam after the other is what Paula and a million or two other youth
in Spain that year – like many other years anyway – for two full days.
The results of these exams were decisive for the path they would be
allowed to choose. Of course more desirable courses would require a
higher result. Paula got good enough results for all her choices, even
the more “difficult” ones. To the dismay of her teachers and her own
mother, she stuck with the decision she had made in June: Business
Studies, three years.
“You are only going to study half a course”, Mum kept repeating. Yep.
That’s the idea. Get the hell out of here as soon as possible.
Paula liked to stick to her decisions, even if these were unpopular. “Especially” if these were unpopular.
Continuing to be a Christian, also known in catholic circles as “taking
up confirmation” was one of these decisions, although, unlike her
studies, this did please Paula’s mother.
Being a Christian in Paula’s parish was no small deal. Especially
because young people taking up confirmation had to also “take up a
commitment”, which in more lay terms meant to volunteering for some kind
of social (or religious) service.
Most of the confirmed people in Paula’s parish took on groups of younger
people who would eventually be confirmed as well. It was a matter of
pupils taking on teaching. It seemed the easiest option and priests and
older committed parishioners would not demand more. Then, against every
one’s wishes, including the Priest and her own mother, Paula took on
volunteering in the local drug-addict-help centre. She was nineteen.