At the end of the university internship in coffee zone of Andes I wrote an article about my perception of coffee culture (if you understand Spanish, you are welcomed to read it here!). I have no idea how many people have read it but I suppose that enough as the local newspaper is distributed in various towns and villages here in Southwestern Antioquia.
I was contacted by a stranger guy from Bogotá who liked my article and to be honest, he made my day that day. It is always helpful when people get you know what they think about your articles and blog posts.
Recently one of my close friend read the article and told me that my vision of Colombian coffee culture is too innocent, nice and shallow at the same time. All that glitters is not gold.
In general people believe in what they see with proper eyes. Well, I have been showen the most representative Colombian coffee everyday life in order to take this vision back to Europe. Finally I stayed longer and I had a chance to know coffee farmers better, to see their problems and the daily struggle of living. It’s not easy, never was or will be, and it is quiet depressing to see that agriculture is worse paid even though it is much more needed than marketing agency.
I do not live here in a golden cage -I see many problems around me and I know that many farms people can not write nor read or that the furthest place they know is a village only 10 kilometers from their farm. I know that some of them do not understand how important is to study so logically they do not support their children in studies because parents need them as manual labor on the farm. I realize that many families count every peso and can afford only basic foodstuffs and food is the same every single day-beans, plantain, rice … life of the small Colombian farmer is difficult, I lived with them for almost a month.
Recently I had an opportunity to participate in one very interesting event called “Día de Campo” (Country Day) who was hold by National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia in a small township of Andes, in Santa Rita. Frequently National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia organizes such a meetings to teach the farmers the correct fertilizing techniques, planting coffee trees, coffee plants diseases… just everything they need to improve and maintain increasing line of production. The participation was huge- came more than 100 people of various ages from children through mothers, productive-aged men and retired old coffee growers.
I learnt a lot this day, mainly when I was in charge of writing down participant’s names and I had to deal with people who did not know spell their names neither write them down- still there is a huge percentage of illiterates outside the urban zones of townships.
At lunchtime I sat next to more or less 7years old girl. She was eating her food portion silently and when I turned to her side she caught my look and could not stop staring at my blue eyes. I knew it pretending that I did not notice it but inside I felt kind of circuit clown :).
I think it is high time to reveal “dark side” of Colombina coffee culture and write another article on how I see it after 6 months that I have spent living in the area. Coming soon!