Cerro de Oro, en route to San LucasOff to San Lucas for another shopping trip! That is Cerro de Oro in the foreground and Volcan Toliman behind wearing the sombrero.

Today I am hunting for the Cuchareros (please take a moment to follow the link to learn more about this group) to bring back some of their handiwork. Arriving in San Lucas after a nice early start on a beautiful morning at Lake Atitlan, we walked up the hill to the village to meet Julio Tul.

Ernesto, Pablo & Julio with some spoons.

Ernesto, Pablo & Julio with some spoons.

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the wares spread out

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting with the spoon carvers was fun, a meandering discussion of  the local woods they have worked with. After many years of carving the local favorites are: the light white coffee wood, Grevillea, and ebony.

The carvers collect fallen wood but oddly the hardest to find is the more mature trunk of a coffee shrub. It is often a choice between firewood to cook food with or a good chunk of wood for carving.  I am bringing home a nice selection of  hand carved spoons and knives for the store this spring.

 

Bauhinia purpurea orchid tree64

Abundant Flowers everywhere.

This flower was on a tree at the docks, a medium size tree, Bauhinia purpurea, really lovely.  It was not fragrant at the time but now drying here on my little table it has a most delightful and surprising mossy, green, herbal aroma.  It is also known as Orchid Tree, and Miguel calls it Costa Rica.

It was still early in the day so a trip by pickup truck to Santiago was in order.  We drove through some of the most prime coffee growing areas here at the lake.  Along the way we stopped for passengers, most of them hauling giant bags of coffee beans harvested that morning.

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the most common mode of cargo.

 

 

beans en route

Pick up truck with firewood, bags of coffee and corn.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cashing in the days harvest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This collection of men is dropping off their heavy bags of hand harvested beans for the weigh-in and payment. Along the road were many families picking. My friend Otilia tells stories of picking with her family when she was growing up. Here the economy is such that everyone pitches in.

Grevillea trees provide shade for coffee shrubs.

 

 

 

 

As my trip here draws to a close I am struck once again by how hard life is in this region. The great beauty and natural resources and amazing history are contrasted so starkly with the poverty and struggle. But I want you to think about this coffee journey when you are sipping your $5.00 latte. An entire region of this countries people eke out a living doing this work. Picking is tedious, back breaking and almost always a family affair. Keep drinking it, this population needs you to, pay a fair price that can get back to the workers and be mindful of the trail that brought those beans to you.

Otilia's coffee drying in the sun.

Otilia’s coffee drying in the sun.

 

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Fresh red coffee berries.