Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hey everyone, I’m kind of surprised I made it down today but here I am. I am teaching an optional English class on Saturdays and it puts a pretty good dent in the ‘ol weekend. Also I had a really productive coffee meeting today. Coffee producers from my site are trying to form a cooperative, it is a slow process but we’re chucking away at it, trying to lay out the logistics and come up with a name. As I mentioned before I live in an almost entirely indigenous community (pura Lenca). An engineer suggested we use the Lencan name for Cruz Alta (I can’t pronounce it or spell it so I’ll leave it alone), but it translates to “Place of Witches.” Spooky eh? The producers didn’t like it much when the engineer suggested it. A witch is a dangerous thing here, there are good witches, curanderos, that heal people. I guess there are a few in Cruz Alta, they use traditional herbs, medicines, and spells to cure people. There are also Brujos that hurt people, in basically the same way. Two weeks ago a man died in La Campa. Supposedly, he used to be very tall but right before he died he shrank noticeably and nobody could explain his strange illness. So I’m living in a place of witches and as long as I am careful and respectful I shouldn’t come out of this any shorter. Also they can turn you into a toad if you’re not careful, I wonder if that is a cross cultural witch thing: turning people into frogs and toads. No quiero ser sapo.
Also the police caught the guy that killed my landlord’s kid this week. Some of you asked me about that in email. There isn’t any death penalty here, most likely he’ll serve ten years or so. It depends almost entirely on what the victim’s family wants. If they tell the police to put the kid away for life then that’s the way it is going to be. If they are forgiving his sentence reflects that.
So after my class today I started to walk down to La Campa in the rain. Elias went with me, he assured me the rain would stop as soon as we descended past a certain point. No dice. I was lucky and hitched a ride as soon as I hit the road but it rained on me the entire hour walk and 30 minutes in the back of the truck so you’re hearing from one mojado gringo. Wet but still grinning, talk to everyone soon. Love Joe.


Blogger pineconeboy said...

Hey dude,

That´s awesome that your producers want to form a cooperative. Tell them to contact AHPROCAFE since they form a sort of structure for co-ops and, in my area at least, have been very instrumental in the formation of the cooperative I work with, doing capacitations and whatnot. I´m not sure how much of this stuff they already know, but you can mention a few things:

They need to have personalidad jurídica and they need to have some people who know how to manage money professionally as well as make contacts with the outside world.

Does anyone in the area have kids that have gone off to be professionals in the city and might want to help? The president of the cooperative I work with is a professional woman from Teguc who has a finca out in the area that she also manages and visits.... It would be hard to imagine having gotten to the point this group is at without her.

They're also going to have to deal with a few legal headaches and some issues related to government organizations, like SAG, SENHASA, and the national cooperative authority (I forget what the name is).

To really run the thing well, they may end up incurring costs that would have to be deducted out of the sale of coffee. This caused some people to freak out and leave the cooperative I work with, because to advance to the point of being able to export coffee they ended up having to buy a computer and a humidity tester and spend a pretty fair chunk of change on phone calls, trips to the exporter, and trips to Teguc interacting with the organizations that oversee exporting.

What stage are they at right now? Wanna talk more about this? Send me an email,



8:56 AM  

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