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coffee shopping.

February 11, 2010

decision: say you want to,
go buy new green coffee in the most southerly province of mexico,
for to roast at your shop for patrons to sip with delight.
previously, you had the green beans ordered and delivered to directly to shop.

plan: drive truck the 28 hours to destination in as little time as possible,
spend a day or two exploring the coffee plantation, learn more about process.

new understanding of mexican culture: substantial.

actual events: as follows.

if you’re american, there’s a good chance,
that your time and accomplishment oriented.
so when you set out on a trip such as this,
with certain goals in mind, you aim to complete them,
with as much expediency as possible.

and if on your second day, your mexican companion
tells you that he has a brother near where you’re driving
that he hasn’t seen in several years and would very much like to…
you’d feel obligated to stop.

and if when you stopped, the brother insisted you stay,
well you’d feel obligated to do that too.
then you’d drive around with him seeing all the sights his town has,
and then stay in his town, and somehow, do more of the same the next day,
even though, the whole time you were saying, “we should really be on our way.”

and then when you finally did get on your way,
if he said he’d like you to take one of his dogs, down to the coffee plantation,
and leave it with the third brother who lives there,
you’d say, “okay, sure, but we really should be on our way now.”

and you’d finagle a harness to keep this dog,
named goofy, in the back of your truck.

you probably wouldn’t imagine at that time,
that goofy was going to puke in the truck-bed,
and stand on your sleeping bags,
and let his fleas walk down his legs,
and that the next night, you would
get so bit up as you slept,
that you might wonder if you’d
gotten chicken pox in the night.

or maybe goofy was only part of it,
maybe the fact that the home you stayed in
had chain-link windows.

the home that the owner boasted,
was the very biggest in town,
and it had taken him seven years,
sending money home from the u.s. just to build it.

he’ll tell you at that point that
he no longer actually works in the coffee plantation
even though that’s what you were told, and the whole reason you came.
he doesn’t seem to think this should be any major crushing blow,
because he still has oodles of connections and he’ll get you the coffee.

so you go with him, and he shows you
three burlap bags by the roadside.
after he walks over and talks to his friend,
he brings back a handful of beans,
you don’t initially recognize that these beans are coffee,
because they still have shells on them.
he quotes you a price that is more than you’d hoped,
which makes it easy to say, “i can’t buy these,
i don’t have time to shell each individual bean.”

“that’s fine,” he assures,
“we’ll go down to the main town of chiapas,
where every building is
a warehouse full of raw coffee.”

this proves to be true.
and suddenly you’re very grateful for,
the flexible and accommodating nature
of the mexican culture.

you buy your beans,
and thrilled with the price and quality,
and watch as the men deftly carry 150 pound
bags slung over their shoulders in bare feet.
when you start helping,
they laugh at you in bold face,
and a drunk man stops you in the street
to warble at you in spanish,
but you do not feel obligated to stop,
because the bag on your shoulders
weighs more than you ever have.

with you goal accomplished you’re more relaxed in a way,
but in another way, it means you’re ready to
get on your way, home.

before you are allowed to go to sleep,
you get invited along with the rest of the town’s population
to the wedding of a 14 year-old girl,
to her 16 year-old husband,
blessed by her 28 year-old dad.

because the whole town is there,
and now you’re in town too,
you should really go.
even though she’ll look at you like,
it’s pretty weird that some dirty tired white people
would show up in her town on her wedding day.

the next day,
you’ll get woken up at 4am,
to find that you’ve been served at the flea-feast,
and your host wants to take you to see the plantation now.
and not only that, but
he wants to go hunting with his friends while he’s there.
and so after waiting for about an hour,
you start to drive and as you drive,
men and dogs climb into the back of the truck,
at various houses around town.

when you get there,
and there, is a little house
on a cement slab on the top of a hill
with no utilities and coffee plants all around.
and everyone makes a fire,
and says their going to make breakfast first,
you’d really like to say something about getting on your way,
but you decide to just let it happen.

you learn that coffee plants,
look like this

you learn that the beans are ready when they are red or yellow.

you walk around the woods
getting bit by a whole ‘nother kind of bug,
grabbing onto tree limbs to avoid falling down the muddy hillside,
while dogs bark and men whoop,
and no wildlife is seen for two hours.
at that point, you do say,
“well we really should be going.”

and they say, “yeah, just a few more minutes,”
and then you go back and sit on the truck for two more hours.
then, just as you see a group of men walking towards you,
and you think you’ll get on your way,
a whole lot of whooping and shouting starts after a gunshot
and everybody turns around to see what’s been killed.

it’s a pepesquible, they tell you
a mammal that you can’t find by any name,
on the internet.
when they ask you to stay while they cook it,
you’re tempted,
but you say,
“we’re going now.”

and you drive 28 hours home.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2010 20:55

    i started this post like a week ago.
    and then wordpress lost it.
    so here we are again.
    now, it’s old news.

  2. Beth permalink
    February 12, 2010 16:06

    It was a very good story even though it was the 2nd time around. Glad you got home safe!

  3. marmy permalink
    February 12, 2010 17:35

    Old news? Any news is good news! Fun, Fun, reading, Thanks.

  4. February 15, 2010 00:46

    and ‘sactly the kinda somethin’ i’ve come to expect from my well worded friend.

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