My spanish is still pretty bad, but I know it’s improving when I can hold conversations with my coworkers for most of the day. I’ve been finally learning more about them instead of just awkwardly smiling, shaking their hands and giving them a timid “buenos dias” every morning. I’m not usually one for small talk, but when it feels like an accomplishment, it’s much more enjoyable. I still can’t understand most of what they say to each other, though. They speak quite rapidly in what sounds to me like half-words.

I’ve been finding that most people in our community have kids and work in coffee. They have all their lives. Luis, my neighbor, has been working with Gold Mountain for four years and worked on a different farm before that. Jason, one of the other workers, has worked here for five years. Julio, the foreman, has been here for a year. Before that he worked at the big finca next door. They all seem to love their job. “Es tranquilo,” they all tell me. It’s relaxed. Or, in Nicaraguense, “tuani,” which means, essentially, “cool.”

I can see what they mean. Up on the mountain, life seems to move a little slower. Things are more calm. Not that they don’t work hard – they certainly do – but nothing feels like it’s on a time-crunch. Todo es tuani.

Since my visit to the coffee museum last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the coffee crisis and how things have changed and improved since then. While there is still a lot of poverty here, things do appear somewhat stable for the locals. I can imagine how devastating a crisis like that would be to this community and ones like it that rely nearly entirely on coffee as their livelihood.

The trimming of the trees continues this week, as does weeding. I did get to help Luis dig some small trenches in the garden to catch the excess water runoff. Hopefully what we dug will help divert some rain away from the path and down to the river.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing my study of the coffee varietals. I’ll report my findings to anyone who is willing to listen upon my return.

On Sunday, I again hiked through the rainforest. This time I stopped by the cabana at the top of the farm. It was a much clearer day than when I went up there with Luis. The view up there is absolutely incredible. I must have spent an hour up there just admiring the view and taking photos. I didn’t find the three-toed sloth that apparently lives in the forest, but I’ll keep looking. The exercise and cooler air was enough for me.

When I got to the office today, there were several women in the front room sitting around a table, sorting through the cascara that will soon be shipped out. This company is truly a social enterprise from its employment of all the locals to donating school supplies to local students. It’s great to see the community working together in a world that often feels so divided.