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Heather’s Travel Diary

Monday, 02 Apr 2007

Location: Back in BOGOTA DC, Colombia

MapBuenas Dias, Noches, Tardes, whatever it may be in your region at this time.
I trust everyone is having a good day. Almost as good as my last day, which has been the zenith of my trip as of now. A few days ago I had the pleasure of learning about the process of coffee production. In the tranquil valleys of the Cordillera Occidental lies the town of Chinchina, which like many towns here rises out of a mist every morning. THe humidity here never ceases to amaze me, I am constantly in a cloud, or maybe this is actually heaven. THe streets of Chinchina are lined with children playing soccer and piles of beans laying in the sun to dry, to be sent to the markets where the National Federation of Coffee Growers buys, sells, and trades the precious seeds. I went with Damian, my amigo de Suiza, and we were able to tour a Finca (farm where coffee is cultivated). The old man who gave us the tour was full of wisdom and educated us on the industry of coffee. The hills of the valleys were lined with trees which provided shade and erosion control for the millions of plants bearing red, yellow, and green (unripe) coffee beans. People constantly harvest these beans, and the plants produce for about 2-5 years. The soil here is volcanic and in this precise area there is no need to fertilize, which is also apparent when you see the rich organic material on the ground (leaves etc.)
Watching the beans harvested and taken through the process was very cool, and the man giving the tour was a sweet old man. the best part however, was after an hour walking uphill, we were just heading down when it began to pour. I ran to the bottom of the hill, completely soaked. I As I waited for Damian, workers from another finca noticed this random drenched Gringa, and took me to the owner, who promptly ushered me into his house, made some some tinto (espresso) and his wife fed me cookies as she dried me with a towel. She tried to give me a new shirt, but I had to insist I was perfectly fine. THis open welcoming and warm friendly attitude is so typically Colombian, and this culture absolutely by far is the most amiable group of people I have ever known. They sent us on our way after a bigger tour of their finca, fresh mangos, and a complementary bag of coffee. I left them with a Canadian pin to express my gratitude and bewilderment of their generosity, and a big kiss and hug (common here, very nice as well).
The land and its people are rich in something we don´t often see in North America, and they may have an average annual income of half of what we make, but offer more than many and greed here does not exist on the same level as it does in Canada, US, and other "developed" countries. I have so much more to say, but litle time, so I will shout back at you all later, but Happy Easter (semana santa) and today or this week try out your random acts of kindness, because we are all human and really do draw alot from the behavior of others!
Byebye!