Monday, November 17, 2008

La Realidad

I had mixed feelings coming to this farm. I wanted to work with coffee—to contribute to the community—the beautiful cooperative that inspired me. But then I realized that I would be so isolated here in San Luis. And now, all of this has changed—in only a few short days.

My family is absolutely beautiful. They are hard working and down to Earth, and so very loving—towards each other and toward me. I recently had an amazing conversation (in Spanish!!) with my home stay father about the coop. He corrected my misconception that all the farms here are a part of the coope—nor is the coope all it’s cracked up to be. He explained that a lot of people lose money to the coope. It keeps 10% of profits “for security,” but over time this money goes elsewhere—to private investments and separate enterprises. It’s a nice idea—an ideal, but the REALITY is that it is poorly managed, and there is some mishandling of money in the administration. Instead, Alvaro (mi papa extrangero) and other cafeteros are independent of the coope. They sell directly to tourists or to other cooperatives, always getting payment in full. But what about price security? He says that although there is fluctuation, overall he’s better off this way. “Coope Santa Elena” is only an idealist title—“Café Monteverde,” a misnomer for marketing and politics. Alvaro sells his coffee mostly to his neighbor who has his own machinas para preparar el café. Alvaro and his other neighbors here in Finca la Bella make “Bella Tico,” which isn’t sold much in Monteverde (“Café Monteverde” dominates here, of course) but can be found elsewhere, and tastes delicious—es la verdad.

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