La Tienda de Lourdes (Lourdes’s Shop), in Soo, is a jewel of authentic, traditional Lanzarote life; a place where the hard work, care and talent of one woman have created an unforgettable little Lanzarote business.
Soo borders the Jable zone of Lanzarote, a desert region where the sand washed up at Famara has been blown ashore and southwards by the northern alisio winds for thousands of years. It’s a place where a centuries-old farming tradition has arisen, and the ridges of sand that farmers use can clearly be seen across the road from La Tienda de Lourdes.
Lourdes Curbelo is shy and nervous about meeting us “I’m a very humble person,” she says, but her daughter Loli reassures her and she’s soon proudly showing us around the shop that’s been open for over 70 years – 40 of them under her management, after she took the shop over from her mother-in-law.
Outside the shop, some of the local products can be seen on display, with potatoes, onions, garlic, bananas, tomatoes and fresh and dried basil, camomile and thyme all beautifully presented in locally-made palm baskets.
Inside, there’s more – much more: freshlypicked strawberries, leafy celery, a basket of snow-white sea salt, green tomatoes, knobbly carrots and several local wines, as well as a cheese counter with some tempting looking local products.
Hanging above the display tables is an array of handmade palm-woven hats that are typical of the island. They’re not cheap, starting at €90, but Lourdes explains: “There’s a lot of work goes into making them.” It’s touches like this, and the vintage Campeona scales that are over 70 years old, that show the care and eye for beauty that marks shops like this apart from others.
Seasonality is important to a shop like this, and Lourdes knows the rhythms of the island’s produce backwards. Her favourite time of year is summer, when the watermelons for which her shop is famed come in “after the Día de San Juan”.
“Also, the fresh figs,” she smiles. At the moment, it’s the best time of year for Lanzarote’s sweet, delicious onions, which are on prominent display. “Everything I put on show, I sell,” says Lourdes.
Lourdes is proud of the huge sacks of local pulses, dried lentils, chickpeas and peas, all sourced from the island itself. “I get most of my products locally, often from the north of the island, and places like Los Valles, Guatiza and Haría,” she tells us. This involves dealing with several traders on a one-to-one basis, but Lourdes says “I work with these people because I enjoy it.” Work is key to the business, and forms part of Lourdes’ motto “Trabajo, amor y campo” (“Work, love and countryside”).
The Tienda de Lourdes is an everyday shop “de toda la vida” for scores of Soo residents, but Lourdes also receives many visits from tourists, when they’re on the island, as well as visitors from other Canary Islands who’ve heard of this perfect place.
Lourdes rises at 7 am and often closes the doors to the shop as late as 10 pm, but the Covid pandemic has had an effect on custom, depriving the shop of many of those visitors who love it so much. Still, Lourdes says “We’ve adapted and we’ve worked hard, and we’re surviving, for which we thank God.”
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