Friday, February 15, 2008

they have been pruned

OK, i didn't spend nearly the time pruning i wanted, but i have photographic evidence that i did prune some avocado and coffee trees.

but i did get to see my farm pushing up coffee buds and shoots. i even got a good picture of a caturra about to bloom. and the coolest part was to see these bio-digesters that turn the waste water (aguamiel) from wet mills into methane and usable water. the methane provides cooking gas and fuel to run the machinery at the wet mill.

i also made some great export contacts. i should have some quality green coffee for sale this summer.

Monday, February 11, 2008

a puff to robertico

i like to think i'm someone with few vices. i gave up alcohol, i don't chase women, i don't smoke, but i love cigarettes and rarely allow myself the privilege of a loosey. cigars are fun, but it has been months since i smoked one. Bent Ahm is a coffee exporter/farmer who lives in Santiago. I hope to bring some of his coffee to the States. Bent worked his entire life in cigars and tobacco before entering the coffee industry. His opinion is well respected in the cigar arena.

Bent rarely smokes cigars any more and sometimes will keep an unlit one in his mouth for hours. I saw him to this for most of the day while we toured his coffee farm and dry mill. He had one cigar left of his very own blend, which he gave to me. Bent told me the ingredients, but to respect his blend (like I would a coffee) I will only share that the tobacco comes from all over the world. Cigars like coffee go stale quickly. I decided to indulge for my last sunset in the DR for this trip. In front of the oldest cathedral in the new world and a statue of the villan Cristoval Colon, I relaxed people watched, and smoked.

I enjoy the first third of most cigars, then they taste like smoke and I put them out. This cigar was the opposite. The flavor didn't strike me until I was about an inch in. Then it reminded me of a coffee, Sumatra Lake Tawar: vegetal, earthy but clean, tobacco. I smoked it to a nub. Subtle, but dynamic, always amazing and never smokey. It was funny to think of how much time I spend comparing coffees to other flavors and now this cigar brings me back to coffee, only coffee. On a deeper level, it reminded me of a close friend who taught me how to smoke cigars - Robertico.

As I finished the cigar, a Haitian with skin black as night and clothes that didn't match was selling dulce (candy) "a como es?" I asked. "Cinco," she said without expression. She took the short bucket off her head as I fished 5 pesos RD from my pocket. There is no point in bartering an honest price, I thought. There was no light in her eyes, not a shimmer. I took the dulce de coco and paid her. As she sold more dulce I could hear her creole accented Spanish. Without words, I wished her well.

Feeling like a complete glutton I enjoyed every last bit of the sweet. The city lights came on and I wondered how I could ever leave this island?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

dream chasing

I have a bone to pick with these American movies. They paint such a pretty picture: one realizes his dream and lives happily ever after, end of story. My dream is coffee. It started with employment at Batdorf and Bronson. My dream grew with the purchase of my farm. This life is my dream, I love it. But it challenges me, which is a nice way of saying, 'its friggin' hard'.

When I thought I needed a few thousand dollars, I could really use several. There is so much to do: assets to protect; coffee to buy; coffee to sell; even more land to buy. I need to do this. I have everything to gain and a little debt to carry. So my problem with the movies is the following: I still have bad days; this journey is lonely; and life isn't perfect. This development of my company and myself is challenging. Sounds like I'm in a growth spurt, and am feeling the pains.

in Padres Las Casas

i'm more than half way through a very full day. I took one truck and two buses from my mountain town: met with one of my lawyers to discuss my title; met with a coffee co-op; coordinated a trip tomorrow; started negations to buy some more coffee (green); arranged a surveyor to measure my land; and now i'm going to take two buses to the capital.

i can get a lot done in a day even on island time. but my standard remains the same, 'if i can get one thing done a day, then that day is a success'.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

pruning trip

if i'm going to call myself a farmer i should at least be present for the important seasonal work. when i say be present i mean actually do my share, get my hands dirty.

feb. 5-12 i will be pruning my coffee and avocado trees.