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Mexico Chiapas 2006: Page 2

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as they call each of the 29 communities that are members, they stand and raise their hands.
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i was traveling with a group of roasters - most of us were part of the program last year to pay extra (above fair trade price) to help the coop rebuild from the hurricane damage. bob fulmer speaks.
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eddie, who is basically the general manager of the coop addresses the crowd
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afte the presentation, we rearranged the tables for a meal. imagine feeding 450 people ... and actually the food was fantastic.
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my favorite little dude - i lent him my camera to take some pictures.
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the best cubist chicken painting ever. was picasso here?

But this effort to get cooperative coffee up to the standards of estate coffee is remarkable when you consider that 650 people in 29 widely dispersed communities are doing their own depulped (removing the skin of the coffee cherry) on hand crank machines, then fermenting it in tanks to remove the fruity mucilage layer, washing , and patio drying. There are so many ways you can mess up at any one of those steps, not to mention the lack of uniformity from person-to-person, community-to-community. And they manage to do it, somehow, consistently producing great Chiapas coffee year after year. The administrative legwork it takes to coordinate all this, to account for each quintale of coffee, and where it comes from, is monumental.

Coffee is a risky business; there is no crop insurance for coffee, anywhere. In this tranquil climes, at some point the producer will suddenly and swiftly get their butt kicked. Residual rainfall from a hurricane, mudslides; if the roads are washed out you might as well not even harvest your coffee. If you are picking, and you get sudden rainfall while your coffee is drying on the patio, you better hope someone pulled it in for you, or it is ruined. Some in Chiapas where affected in a more dramatic way – the coffee trees themselves slid down the hill into the river. For 3000 others it was worse, they lost their homes. In any case, you see the damage here and you see a lot of people working on the repairs. But you are not going to hear people dwell on it a lot – for them it is just a part of life in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas.

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macho brahma
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bob enponga is everywhere
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zapatista
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help, a man with a huge upper body, and tiny torso and legs is breaking into my apartment.
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super prety
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no, says the finger wagging boy. I like the little arrows by his finger, otherwise you might think he was signing "we're number 1".
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motozintla street. the town is about 1000 meters. the coffee is between 1000 and 1500 meters in this area
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another fine painting
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at the hotel, the keep was hard to wake. this was about 5 pm.

I return to Tapachula. I left the palefaced cytoplasmic colony behind, and will fly home alone. I am just a lone amoeba now, I caught a ride down to the lowlands and the airport with a guy named Moises (not everyone here is Juan and Jose!) For that I empty my pockets of pesos so Moises can go do his bimonthly family shopping trip … at Sam’s Club. Well, maybe they have some coffee that is not instant.

They give me a tough time: Tapachula airport security is tough, be warned. They don’t like this thing and that thing, and they really don’t like the hand-cast aluminum spurs I am bringing back. I am going to have to find a box, and then check it through to SFO. Oddly, they announce the boarding rows in English as well as Spanish, but looking around I am the only gringo in the whole airport. (And frankly, I understand clear Spanish much better than garbled P.A>. system English.) As we climb I look down at the long, straight sandy beaches that dramatically divide the lush flood plain from the azure Pacific. Some day, on one of my coffee trips to the mountains, I will get to sit on a beach like that, even for one day. But I am always up on the nauseating and twisty roads where the coffee is grown. And as quickly as I arrive, I must get back to West Oakland. We’re too small of a company to allow for a dedicated specialist in coffee travels. I have to cup the incoming samples, update the web page, fix this or that machine, water the plants, reorganize the pallet racks, roast the batches on Monday night; any number of things from the many jobs I have in coffee. And while it could be better (like getting to spend a day on a beach) my motto that I hold to be universally true is this: “it’s not all good, but it could be worse, so it isn’t half bad.” -Tom

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that night at dinner, we had mariachi vs. marimba bands, one on each side of us.
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there's nothing quite like having a mariachi horn play in your ear. helen protects herself, bob is okay with it.
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this horn player always had the same pained expression, like he was about to bust some internal organ.
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wendy of tony's coffee in wash. with eddie and his family.
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up in the hills nearer the coffee plots, here is a bridge that actually survived.
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one way to keep the birds away, or exterior decor.
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another view.
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one of the socios on his coffee plot
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just how close to the river some of the houses are in the area...
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more flood damage
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plaque at the entrance of the national presbyterian church of chiapas ... the verb of god.
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coffee drying on the patio. all coffee is pulped, fermented and dried by the socio, then delivered as pergamino to the udepom mill.
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los quatro amigos
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not the prettiest pulper i have ever seen
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that was the end of the trip for me ... but my camera went on to guatemala with alex mason of royal coffee (shown here at finca agua tibio with luis roberto and someone else.
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another dramatic volcanic view between the sierra madre de chiapas and the volcanos of guatemala

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