Until the 70s of the 20th century, the custom of “the changes” existed in El Hierro.
The families, who normally lived in the highlands of the island, moved with their families and all their beasts to the valley of El Golfo. They did it at the time when it was colder above (January and February) taking advantage of the fresh herbs that had grown, they were pruning the vineyard that grew throughout El Golfo up to a height of 800 meters.
Then they would go down to the Gulf in July and stay until September, a good time also for fishing, always working together on the grape harvest and winemaking, which in the end they would take by boat to the steamboats that used to arrive in those summer months. near Big Point.
We do not know exactly how old the main buildings of the place are, which we name “El Sitio”; We estimate that they began to build a part circa 150 years or more.
Formerly, today’s reception was the cellar that kept the barrels, upstairs was the bedroom divided between children and parents (now the living room) and today’s living room was the kitchen, an important place. They also had some quarters for the beasts and beyond that a bathroom with only a hole in the floor.
Like many people, the owners eventually went to Venezuela and rented the house. Neighbors told us that some time ago, 80 years ago, two priests lived in El Sitio who had the first radio and people would gather to listen to the news (and maybe they would go out later to pray in the church upstairs).
Finally, the owners returned from Venezuela, stayed in Tenerife and sold the entire farm to the spouses Sabine Willmann and Joachim Carstens in 1994.
From that moment on, the farm, still very abandoned, passed into the hands of the Willmann-Carstens family. They are the ones who, with the help of magnificent masons and carpenters, restore the entire place and set the inauguration date for July 24, 1996. (“El Sitio” has traditionally been a place where people met to chat and also to exchange what they had for land and sea products).
Sabine Willmann, at the opening celebration of El Sitio said:
«Fourteen years ago we discovered this island and since then we have not been able to free ourselves from its charm; its incomparable nature, its wild side and its volcanic force, in combination with the affection of its inhabitants, marked us in our growth and personal vision.
In this way, although we do not feel like natives of El Hierro, we have become part of this island through its people and its nature.
The island gives us and has given us so much. For all this we want to thank each other and dedicate this place to her.
The Site is a place where people can meet in peace and harmony.
We want to maintain the customs of the past, when families gathered for any celebration: as a large family with locals, Venezuelans, Cubans, Germans, Dutch, Italians and others. We can speak only one language: the language of music; the poetry; the painting; the dance and the heart. This is a means of communication that we all understand, and it offers us joy and satisfaction.
We are enjoying and sharing together the wonderful nature of this island, surrounded by a sea illuminated by the sun, the moon and the stars.
This island has powers to heal. Therefore, El Sitio should be a place where tired people can find tranquility and healing. We are a circle of people, who believes in the persistence of goodness and truthfulness.
We want The Site to be a place that contributes to understanding and union
between the inhabitants of the island and the people who come from outside…
A place like the island itself: full of harmony, peace and affection.
We are glad to open it. Thank you.”
Then Sabine Willmann tells us:
“Some people remember the party with a lot of music and our opening speech on that day on July 24, 1996.
I can hardly believe that twenty-six years have already passed. They were years of growth and changes; years of saying goodbye to loved ones… Full of experiences.
And abundant years for which I am grateful.
There have been many people who have spent their vacations in our little houses in the countryside.
My words from then have come true at El Sitio.
During the last years, the family has grown and with it we have come closer to our small island.
The word peace in the world came to have a deeper meaning.
Here I learned more and more what it meant to find peace on the outside and how a place like El Sitio on the island of El Hierro gave me peace and joy on the inside.
My dream has come true. Since the beginning of 2002, I have spent a large part of the year in El Hierro.
Years go by… Life is a breath.
2015 my ex-husband and co-owner Joachim Carstens passes away.
Our daughters are now adults and they themselves have children.
They are my daughters, the sisters and new co-owners Miriam and Milena Carstens who are part of the great team of those who take care of this unique place on the island of El Hierro.
Our wish is that you feel good and at home in El Sitio, our place of peace and tranquility.”