So the final full day on the farm was meant to be spent picking again, but the local villagers needed to clean the water tanks which meant we would be without water all day. Not a major issue normally you would think but all the coffee gets processed on the same day of picking and the pulper needs water to work, so this had to be canceled.
A terrible shame as I had really enjoyed the previous day, but a good chance for me to explore the farm. I went on a hike up to the very top of the farm at 1850 ft above sea level, through lots of bracken and past lots of the coca fields that surround the farm.
As I said in an earlier post it is legal to grown and sell coca in Bolivia. This is a tradition in this part of the world for many years. The locals make tea from it and chew it, it gives energy, staves of hunger and can help in altitude sickness. In its leaf form it seems fairly harmless and no worse than some legal drugs you can see for sale in the UK. Obviously when it it made into base and powder it becomes a whole new beast that I wouldn’t want to see but this is what the farmers in the area do, and there is a legal market for it. Coffee prices have been so low for so many years, even if these people wanted to swap crops they have not been able to. Coca fetches a much better price for them is easier to grow, gives four harvests a year and has a huge local market no need to be dealing with gringos like me.
Unfortunately you can see the effects of this booming market everywhere, coca doesn’t need any shade in fact does better without the shade needs to be farmed in an organised way in lines and huge areas have been deforested. This in turns means that there is land erosion and all sorts of other impacts too complicated for a simple coffee roaster. But one thing is the wildlife has no where to live so lessens the diversity which in turn is not good for the land.
Luckily in this sea of coca Machacarmarca is a haven for wildlife, they have reestablished forests that had been cleared by others, and they work hard to maintain the environment without the use of chemicals. Lupe sees this has he obligation to the farm to make sure it is well looked after even if all around is not. So the wildlife from outside the farm as moved into the habitat and you can see the positive effects of this all around.
The 1850ft part I had climbed up to was at was the latest part of re introducing tress to the farm, but also meant you got an excellent view of all around. Difficult to get up to harder to get down.
Back in time for lunch a much needed snooze was in order, in the hammock off I went for an hour, thats how comfortable I was there, I never sleep like this in the middle of the day, but Machacarmarca has a way of slowing you down to its time.
The afternoon Lupe had arranged for a small 5 a side game of football with the farm workers (and me) against the local community players. It was meant to be played the following day, but plans had meant I had to leave early. So disappointed were the locals in not being able to “kick the gringos ass” that it was moved forwards at everyones request so it could happen. We had a crowd we had goal posts that had been made especially, and we had specially bought for this event football strips, ones we were all very proud of and non of us gave back at the end
I wont tell you how bad I was (a 36 year old playing at altitude who is so unfit its unbelievable) but I did score two goals and we did win 5-2. I have put together a fun little video below for you to watch, I wont tell you how much fun I had putting it together but I giggle each time I watch it.
After the game we at about drank beer together and even with communication issues completely got each other and managed to talk. Football is a great leveller, but also shows were not so different, we like the same things and its a great bringer together. Next time I play the game at the start of the week because by this point we were buddy’s.
Still some more to come to wrap up the trip but coming to an end now, but I do hope you have been enjoying it.