It feels nice to be in one place for a little while. Instead of bouncing around and taking chicken buses across the country every couple days I´ve planned to settle down in San Pedro for at least another week and a half or so. This gives me a chance to buy food at the market and prepare it at my little hotel in town, get to know the people of this place and make some friends here while I´m at it. It´s a weird little town, full of hippies and druggies and foreigners and tourists. I know I´m one of them, really, but I´ve been trying my hardest to ignore the stupidity and focus on the coffee. I´ve been putting in hours working at a couple beneficios here in town, getting to know the work that people do here with coffee daily. As I´m heaving around hundreds of pounds of coffee cherry at a time, cleaning the roasting machine at the FEDEPMA association, helping to scoop dried pergamino into bags and carrying them on my back into the warehouse, I´m often wondering exactly what I´m learning about coffee and how I can use the experience in the future to inform my approach to work that I might do in the states. I am managing to communicate with people well enough to discuss the effects of the market price on farmers´ lives and how the changing climate may be effecting the yield this crop year. But most of the time has been spent with damn hard labor. My muscles are sore and I´ve torn the skin off the knuckles of my middle fingers by carrying bags full of coffee cherry around. I´ll be here for another week, at least, working, studying and figuring out how to ask the questions that come up. If nothing else, I´m getting a pretty clear picture of how incredibly hard people work for 12 hours a day, six days a week to make their humble living with this stuff.
One more thing I don´t want to forget...While I was in Monterrico I met some pretty rad people. One of them was Annette, who is currently on a motorcycle trip from northern Alaska to the southern tip of South America to raise money for a children´s charity in the UK. It´s a pretty awesome thing and you should check out her blog at www.alaska2argentina.com