At home, I find I need noise to fall asleep.  Usually the din of traffic outside is enough but sometimes a little music or white noise is necessary.  Here the constant noise of the waterfall and frogs nearby fill the silence until roosters wake me up.  Soon after the rooster’s call, the Thrushes start to sing.  I wake up just before dawn to these songbirds and watch the sun rise over the mountains.  It may sound like a series of complaints but the ambiance here is nothing to complain about.

The farm recently purchased a small tract of land behind the coffee museum.  The guys have been working on taking down the old fence and moving it to a new home on the edge of the new property.  This land will be used to expand the museum by adding more varietals and lengthening the path so that it reaches the property’s limits.

While they work on the museum, I’ve been relegated to weeding the garden.  If you’ve ever gardened then you know how fast weeds can reappear.  While my time here may sound tedious and repetitive (and i admit it can be), weeding gives me a chance to study the varietals that are already in the museum.  Right now they all look pretty similar, but I’m starting to notice subtle differences between them.  While I suppose I could look up the each plant’s characteristics I’d rather try and figure out their differences the hard way.  It’s difficult to stay in a box you don’t know the confines of.

With the acquisition of the new land, we’ve been given spectacular views and I’ve been taking advantage of that extra time I have each morning before the sun comes up to watch the colors in the clouds.  In the morning all the moisture is still near the ground which means the farm and my room are actually above the layer of clouds.  Watching the sun rise in this way is a spectacular sight.

I’ve just spent the last day exploring Matagalpa city.  it is a vibrant town even on a Sunday night when most everything is closed.  I’ve noticed a lot of people that appear to be from the United States, despite the relative lack of tourism in this part of the country.  Being a Chele/Chela or someone with fair hair and skin doesn’t necessarily mean that you are from elsewhere.  There are plenty of people who qualify as Cheles who are not gringos but I still am the palest one here.

I was able to stop by El Museo del Cafe in my time in the city.  It’s not huge, but there is no entrance fee and the content is in both Spanish and English which is a bit of a relief.  While there was a bit of history about the Matagalpa region an dthe city itself, there was much more on the hstory of coffee in Nicaragua.  This is to be expected since coffee is the primary export of the nation and the economic health of its citizens relies heavily on the simple price of a pound of coffee.  The best example of this was in the late-nineties, when the price of coffee dropped, the average income dropped dramatically cause many people to die of starvation.

Things are better now, but there is still a great need for improvement.  There’s so much that we don’t tend to think about while sipping our morning cup of coffee and it really is amazing how much hard work goes into growing and exporting coffee.  What is more impressive is to look at the state of these specialty farms and compare the progress they’ve made in relation to the other traditional farms in the area.  It goes to show that the demand for specialty coffee improves not just the coffee itself, but the lives of those involved in its production.

When we are willing to pay more for a higher quality product, the communities and farms improve along with it.

If all I bring back from this trip is this perspective shift, it will be more than enough.  I feel incredibly thankful that i was able to learn as much as I have in my time here and I can’t wait to share all the stories and details when I return.

-Andrew Cayer