The flight from Lima to Huanuco takes just over an hour in a 16 seat plane with a sewing machine for an engine. You fly over the Sierra, a dry, treeless, mountainous area with deep canyons, all in rich hues of brick red. You could be almost skeptical you are travelling to coffee country. Romulo, the general manager of the coop I had met at SCAA in Minneapolis met us at Huanuco, he has a great wide smile and very wise eyes. We threw our bags in the back of his small truck and began the 2 1/2 hour drive on mountain switchbacks to Tingo Maria. Along the way the landscape changed to include more and more vegetation as we moved from Sierra to jungle. At one point we entered a long tunnel (must have been a big mountain), and out the other side we found ourselves in the jungle proper. Peru is home to a quarter of the world´s jungle, and there are thousands of species of plants, bugs and flowers that exist here and no where else.
Tingo Maria is a bustling town. Whenever travelling in a warm climate you can´t help but be struck by how much life there is being lived on the street. I was surprised at the number of motorcycle taxis, something you see a lot of in Asia. Tingo Maria is home to an agricultural college and offices for a few coffee coops.
Although by the time we arrived at La Divisoria´s offices, dusk was closing in, there were nearly two dozen people there waiting to receive us. This was touching in itself. We met the head cupper, quality control manager, director of the mapping project, the president and past president of course, and other members. The growers made a presentation to us, very earnest, saying how motivating it was for them to meet a buyer. They provided a detailed presentation on their cupping and mapping initiatives (more on that later). It was clear to us that this was an ambitious, cohesive group. When it came time for us to make our presentation, we told them (through Kira Griswold,our intrepid but getting tired after all of the coop presentations translator), that a picture tells a thousand words and we showed them the video that Ashley and Gina had worked so hard on, and that contained so many clips from people in the company. Well, it was incredibly well received! They told us that it made them feel connected to the end customer, they were so pleased we took steps to ensure the quality of the coffee was expressed in the cup, and that it was motivating for them …. Oscar gave us the thumbs up and said that the video was very emotional for him, that it had given him goosebumps, and that it was the best gift they couldhave received from us. Well done everyone.
This morning we will visit farms and wet mills,and this afternoon we will spend cupping.
There´s much more I could write, next post.