This past Saturday I got to make the trip up to the coffee farm above Sampedrana. We had a very special visitor in Patty Fancher from CIY, and given that many a CIY group in the past several years has spent several days up on the farm and at the Church, it seemed a great thing to get to show her what is going on, especially for future possible groups (as in...the CIY group upcoming in June), and also a good time for us to test the road to the farm out again with a Ford to see how it is faring and where some repair/maintenance might be needed as the rainy season approaches.
We got quite a few new pictures to show the progress on the farm, and a few videos (processing still a video of the entire drive from Comayagua to post...somewhere) but they really do fail to capture the beauty, the impressive slopes of the property/area, and the huffing and puffing inducing altitude when combined with the previously mentioned slopes. The sky seems clearer, the breeze more steady and occasionally gusting, and from an administrative standpoint...the needs for further improvements and development staggering.
Just as staggering is the progress already made. We struggled for a few years getting things off the ground, but this past year has been very good, and we expect another almost two acres to be planted with coffee this year. We are almost at 50% planted as we stand. We still need this year to also build a bunkhouse for when harvest comes for where workers can stay, that will be a big project yet to come.
Seen here is the farm, at least in the part you can see from the road we built leading to it...there is more on the other side of the ridge. The small puffy trees on the right near the middle of the picture are our avocado trees. The line that goes up and to the left, to the right of the avocado trees marks a cleared line, but the property line goes further up the mountain from there. To the left of the avocado trees are coffee trees.
You might be asking yourself...how much property is there? Well, that is a good question. The exact answer is unknown really, as we have not had anything that could be called an exact measurement. I have not even been able yet to get to the top of the property myself. But the nearest that has been figured is about 20 acres. And we have roughly half planted with coffee, somewhere around 32,000 trees, with another 6,000 to be planted in the coming year.
You might also be asking yourselves...how bad is the road? Well, although rain has visited Tegucigalpa several times in the last week, it has not reached Sampedrana yet, so it was in very good shape. There are a couple places that need widening a bit, and a couple where the underground tiles need concrete poured to set them more firmly in place.
On our way back down the hill, we stopped to talk at the Church before heading home. We were talking about how we can better help Alfonso financially on a regular basis (also looking at getting his daughter a scholarship somehow from the US to be able to go to High School...which in addition to requiring money, would require her to relocate down the hill with extended family) and how we would like to see more avocados and raspberries (already growing wild...we picked two pounds just while chatting) and other fruit trees on the property to not only have the property providing employment but also food we can sell and give away to the workers, Church, and others in the community.
I noticed quite the pile of wood, and someone cutting wood in the back of the property. I asked Henry about this. The woman cutting the wood has her common law husband in jail, and four daughters to feed. Why her husband is in jail is a very sad and tragic story. He has not been sentenced yet (that takes a while) but likely will not be out soon given the circumstances. Their family has been helping them where they can, but Henry was wanting to help more. So they are getting oak wood to put into the smoker (home made, seen in the background) and make charcoal to sell. That is a lot of wood. Apparently you strip the outside bark off so that in the fire, it turns to charcoal and does not instead just burn up.
We were hoping to test a new option for transportation to and from the farm, a modified moto taxi. Unfortunately it was not ready for the trip, but as we progress, finding better transportation to replace the motorcycle will also be a priority. Going up and down that mountain for five years has taken a toll...and constant repairs are not exactly easy up there. Life though is not easy up there in many ways. But wow, it is beautiful.
I had been wrestling with posting something for some time. Within the last week or so several things pushed me in this direction.
So sometimes I feel quite isolated. Some of that comes from within, related to my personality and how I perceive the world. And some not. I am probably not alone in that.
Every time the phone rings, I expect that contact to be initiated because the party on the other end needs something. Which is true...because that is my job, for one, and secondly because sometimes being the guy that reaches out or is outgoing is hard. But of course my view is that it is #1's fault more than #2.
I have felt that way for a while now. It was not until hearing another foreigner at the airport say virtually the same thing, out loud mind you, with a heavy heart and sorrow not anger or frustration, that I realized I was not alone.
Sometimes I have a hard time interacting as well with others, or at least those that I see on a daily basis who struggle with huge issues of money, abuse, lack of education opportunities, healthcare, immigration, crime, corruption...you know, the small stuff. How do I ask the tough questions and then actually listen, and what do I do? What can I do? What should I do? Ooof. Sometimes then that means avoiding asking questions because you know what the answer will be and you do not want to hear it, lest you have to do something with that information.
We have weekly devotionals as a leadership, and that came up from someone else last week. Wait...again, this is not just me, as another out of touch gringo? That was a revelation, and a reminder. A reminder that no matter where you come from...caring can take a lot out of you, even if you don't know what you are going to do after step one of just caring.
Thankfully there was someone else there to remind me that sometimes step one is sometimes where it ends (Not all the time of course!) people just want to be heard, to have a place to get things off their chest where they will be heard without judged, ratted out, or the like. There are times when we are moved to action, but it does not have to feel like that is what we are supposed to do every time...sometimes instead of asking more questions, we just need to listen, to cry, to sympathize, to pray...to care.