María Victoria Diego Fernaud does not stop. She crochets with her daughter, Victoria Perera Diego, under the watchful eye of her deep blue eyes in her house in Bajamar, until the interview she has given to two researchers, Horacio González and Gabriel Escribano, who are developing a recovery project begins. from the memory of the father of Canarian archaeology, Luis Diego Cuscoy.
Born in Girona in 1907, he did not arrive in Tenerife until he was 9 years old. He studies to be a teacher and begins to teach in El Sauzal. However, what would make him famous is, paradoxically, the adventure that he begins after receiving punishment from the Francoist authorities. In his purge file, through which all suspected officials at the beginning of the dictatorship passed, it is stated that he should be exiled within the province, in this case to the south of Tenerife, to the town of Cabo Blanco, and disqualified from office. executive. Although it did not have any noteworthy political connection, an article published on May 1, 1936, Pueblo y maestros frente la guerra, and the complaint from a schoolmate from El Sauzal, who claimed that he did not pay enough attention to the Catholic fervor of his students, they took him to the municipality of Arona, during which stay he lived in the town of Los Cristianos, in the Reverón pension.
“My father would be more or less religious -explains Maria Victoria Diego-, but he fulfilled his obligation. They punished him and I don’t forgive anyone for that. Going to the South at that time was exile… There was a little school in Cabo Blanco, a tiny room with a window to the street and he stayed in the Reverón pension. When we went to see him, it wasn’t for two or three days because at that time going to the South was an interplanetary journey… I would love to go back there and see those children, who will now be as old as me”, she draws intensely.
Luis Diego Cuscoy wrote the book Entre pastores y ángeles in Cabo Blanco, a work in which he narrates episodes of the reality that surrounded him, as well as the discovery of a Guanche burial cave already looted. something unfortunately common. It must be borne in mind that Cuscoy -although both Diego and Cuscoy are his last names- he makes important archaeological finds, many of them in the south of Tenerife. If he started this work self-taught in Roque de Igara, he later excavated one of the largest aboriginal necropolises, the Uchuva cave, in San Miguel de Abona, discovered in 1933 by a goatherd and which, as reported by the press of the time, it was looted.
“I think that at first people believed that my father was half crazy, digging the ground. Not anymore. When he was in high school, my friends asked me a lot: but aren’t you afraid of sleeping with the dead? Not me. In my house we have lived with Guanches since we were born”, says María Victoria Diego.
“There was no archaeological museum here,” he explains. Since he began to dig then there began to be a need. He combined the classes with the excavations. Here nothing was done; he was the one who inaugurated archeology. I think at one point he didn’t get enough recognition, but now he does.” “At first I was a nutcase who went looking for bones in caves and then we washed them at home. I remember my mother at the dining room table with all the leftovers washed up, trying to fit the pieces together. He taught himself because there was nothing here and the only person who knew anything was Don Elías Serra Rafols (historian and archaeologist). We learned to see it and the family helped. All the odds and ends that my father brought were placed on the dining room table. In my house he ate in the kitchen because the dining room table belonged to the Guanches ”, he concludes.
Luis Diego Cuscoy would make numerous discoveries of aboriginal archaeological remains. In addition to the Uchuva cave, which he excavated when it had already been looted, he would do the same with the Guargacho ceremonial complex, also in San Miguel, found by the goatherd Salvador González Alayón, which was later abandoned, turned into a garbage dump and today it is an interpretation center in which, however, there are no authentic remains, but reproductions.
He began to hold positions of responsibility from 1944, first as an assistant, then as an island commissioner and, finally, provincial commissioner for archaeological excavations.
“When Luis Diego Cuscoy starts his work, in the Canary Islands there is no one who does anything similar,” explain the authors of the project, both Horacio González and Gabriel Escribano. “For everything that is discovered, Cusco is called”, they add, remembering that the Archaeological Museum of Tenerife was inaugurated in 1958.
Both insist that it is no coincidence that he started the activity that would make him known in the South Region. “The south of Tenerife -they say- concentrates most of the archaeological sites of Tenerife, mainly areas such as Rasca or Roque de Jama, thanks to isolation and protection. That is why they are the areas that are best preserved”.
“Before him, the work of Juan Bethencourt Afonso was also very relevant, but after him, decades passed until Luis Diego Cuscoy began his excavations,” they emphasize.
Although proud of the work of her father, María Victoria Diego Fernaud, did not follow in his footsteps and opted to study Philosophy and Letters at the University of La Laguna. “It is what could be studied in La Laguna. I would not have wanted to study Archeology because I slept with the bones and I think I was saturated by everything that was in my house, ”she says.
“What a time that. It was a very beautiful time, but it hurts me to dig through my father’s things, to take his things and look at them. I don’t know if there will be many of his things left to publish -he assures-, but I think not”. “It was a lot of fun working with him because we were kids and we didn’t know what we were doing, but we had a great time.”
He also talks about his father’s friendship with intellectuals of his time. “Emeterio Gutiérrez Albelo, the poet, had a lot of friendship with my father. Also Serra Rafols and María Rosa Alonso, who was a charming person and with whom we exchanged books. Before, because of the bitches, the books were lent and I was the one who brought and carried the books”.
The creation of the Archaeological Museum marked a milestone in the Canary Islands in this discipline. María Victoria explains how she helped her father in that work: “My father was a school teacher, not an archaeologist. I was the one with a college degree. Many of the things that are below (in the museum) are sticky jewels that we made, ”explains her, who is not only the daughter, but also the memory of the father of Canarian archeology.