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Posted by Julia Baumgartner at about 11am on Monday February 1, 2010
After feeling the earth move under my feet in San Salvador (a 6.0 on the Richter scale) I was reunited again with Jitzy, a small scale coffee producer and now friend. We met almost two years ago at a producer party at Just Coffee in Madison where Jitzy was representing her all women's coffee cooperative in Nicaragua. My friend Anna and I were blown away by her story after experiencing the strong influence of machismo in central America and understood the need for such projects. We made friends with Jitzy during her stay in Madison and then went to visit her in her community that following summer. It has been a year and a half since our last visit and because its harvesting season, this time I have had the opportunity to experience the whole production process: planting, compost/organic fertilizer production, harvesting, separating, pulping, cleaning, drying, transporting, drying again, shelling, cleaning, separating, exporting, roasting, grinding, packaging, selling, and most importantly consuming it after the long journey to my cup. Whoa. This process is extremely complex and overwhelming and this visit has helped me to appreciate the many hands that are involved in bringing a good cup of coffee to us as consumers each day. Here goes my lengthy attempt at describing the journey of these traveling coffee beans and the rad women that produce them...
Posted by Julia Baumgartner at about 12pm on Wednesday January 27, 2010
It's 3.00, la hora fresca, the heat has calmed down and its time to make my way down to the mango tree to get to work. Before running out of my turquoise casita, I make sure my pocket is filled with 10 pennies, just enough to cover my afternoon treat. Aside from beans and tortillas at every meal, Ive been treating myself to 10 cent chocobananos, a frozen chocolate covered banana. Que rico. With my treat in hand, I stumble down the dirt road full of chickens, cow poop, and garbage and find my way under the Mango tree. As the tiny green ornaments fill the limbs, the space below has become a communal space these days. People of all ages congregate here, setting their machetes aside and grabbing the nearest stick, throwing it up in the air with all their might to knock the green mangoes down to the ground. No matter that they are weeks from ripe, we crack open the bitter green skin and eat up the sour insides. The little girls often come prepared with chile and salt to complement this treat and we sit on the old cement water trough chatting away, waiting for the teen aged volunteers to arrive and grow a garden.
Posted by Julia Baumgartner at about 10am on Thursday January 7, 2010
Since I got here, the family Im living with has been getting up early and working all day building accomodations for the arrival of 9 new cows. Corn and bean production has proven to be unsuccessful, so theyre taking a chance on milk production instead. The cows arrived yesterday and with the first batch of milk we made we made a bunch of cheese last night. This morning we ate fried cheese for breakfast. I think Im in the right place...
Posted by Julia Baumgartner at about 2pm on Tuesday December 29, 2009
Tonio and I sit rocking back and forth in the wooden rocking chairs that line the back patio, atop the fancy blue tiles. He has his shirt pulled up, revealing his round panzon (belly) as he often does in the evening after a long days work in the field. I’m trying not to scratch the hundred + mosquito bites that have filled my legs and feet since arriving in the countryside. We have just finished another meal of rice, corn, and beans in some form or another and the tv is playing one of the family’s favorite novelas. Dogs are barking non stop and the crickets are singing in the background. It’s a typical night here in the Ramos Perdomo household. Antonio, his wife Martha, and their five children have taken me in to their relatively fancy home in Rutilio Grande and it is here that I’ve decided to call my home during my stay in El Salvador. When I first came here seven years ago, their daughters Mariela and Roxana were some of the first kids I met and every year since, I have come back and stayed the night in their house, sharing stories, earrings, and laughter.