Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day Six - Sunday in Comayagua

From the roof of Hotel Morale
Another sunny, warm day in Comayagua. I've come to love this town. The hotel had an influx of guests last night, so the Restaurant opened up a buffet line for breakfast to feed the masses. I enjoyed the breakfast, but choked down the coffee. They serve a Honduran brand of coffee here called Cafe Maya, which I'm told is made of the coffee unfit for export. I've been spoiled having good fresh coffee with the farmers. We discussed plans for the day, which weren't much, and set off to Adalid's house to see what was happening.

Rio Negro is just one of four communities that Farmer to Farmer works with in Honduras to get coffee. They all surround Comayagua up in the mountains and are part of a co-op together called COFEACOMA. Don Chico is one of the farmers in another community called El Sute. We couldn't all make it up to see him, so he came down the mountain with his grandson to see us. It was an honor for me to meet him, and was glad he came down. Don Chico grows some of the highest quality coffee for the co-op, and I hope to use his coffee as a test market for Microlots that we are working on as a way to increase payments to farmers. A Microlot is a type of coffee importing that keeps as much information on the coffee as possible with it along the way. If I can tell the story of Don Chico and get better prices, the rest of the farmers can help do a better job of tracking and separation to get better prices all around. We sat in Adalid's workshop and talked coffee with Don Chico. He was grateful for our work to sell his coffee, and acknowledged that without Farmer to Farmer, he would be making a lot less.

While we talked, our hosts were busy firing up the giant adobe bread oven and soon several whole chickens were introduced to the heat for lunch. After interviewing Don Chico, I set out for a walk in the town, the first time I had been alone on the streets since my arrival. It's surprising how comfortable I felt navigating the small streets to the central square, then our hotel and back to Adalid's for a lunch of roasted chicken and a fresh green salad. Our hosts, and particularly the women, are always working hard making sure we are all fed and happy.

The pottery shop owner borrowed some 

chairs from next door so we could hang out and drink coffee.
Farmer to Farmer - the real deal
Lunch in our bellies, Hector invited us to visit a Lenca pottery shop nearby. At the shop, we all visited with the owner, an ambitous native Lenca (the indiginous people of Honduras) who sold pottery and coffee. We bought a few pieces of pottery and he offered to make us coffee. He pulled chairs from out of his shop and we all sat out on the sidewalk chatting while we waited for coffee. So the days go, often spent waiting for one thing or another, but there isn't a rush. It's just the way things are. No hurry.

Coffee in our bellies and pottery in our bags, we gathered some ingredients for dinner and loaded into Hector and Luis' vehicles. Tonight we were going to have a party at Priscilla's house, with some much acclaimed Baleadas made by Hernan.

Hernan the Baleada Maestro
We squeezed our group into Pris' clean, well organized house. It didn't take long for the plates of baleadas to start flowing out of the kitchen and into our bellies. From what I saw, a baleada starts with a ball of wheat dough. It is patted by hand down into a tortilla shape and cooked on the stovetop. Then refried beans, cheese, cilantro, and other ingredients are spread on top. They are served open, so you can see what is inside. You fold it over into a taco shape and enjoy. Hernan made them with avocado, adding chorizo for later versions. They were excellent.

Adalid, president of COFEACOMA and Andy talk numbers
Multilingual conversations filled the room, with frequent bouts of laughter. Gifts were shared back and forth. Out on the patio, Andy negotiated the 2013 Farmer to Farmer coffee contract with the coffee co-op. I was able to pull up information on my iPhone when he had a few questions for me, and we came up with some numbers that we could agree on.

Witness this light pole!
Soon enough, we were all full of baleadas, the drinks were gone, and it was time to head back to the hotel. Rounds of handshakes and hugs ensued, and we slowly made our way out of the house and into the cars. Our Hotel has an armed guard 24/7, so when we pull up he opens the gate and welcomes us. Oddly it's a nice feeling, but I can't help but think of all the people that live in this town - they don't have armed guards, they live with violence every day. It wasn't like this a few years ago, I hear. Since the coup things have gotten progressively worse. My urge to help is ever present, but the only thing I can do is come and enjoy the people in their element, knowing that my simple presence is helping, even in a small way. It's called witnessing, and I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone every once in awhile to witness what other people's lives are like.

Rick said something today, and it struck me, so I'll end with it. He said if everyone threw our problems in a pile on the table, and had to pick one out again, we'd pick our own problems...

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