So today is my last day before setting off back to La Paz and on to Colombia. We can’t leave Caranarvi until 4pm when the road re-opens (they are ripping up and widening a huge piece of road between Corico and Caranarvi, which is a HUGE engineering feat).
So one of our other successful introductions this year was a coffee called Bolivia Finca Canton Uyunense, grown by Teodocio Mamani. It’s gone super well since we introduced it back in March, and the feedback has been great.
The photo we have of Teodocio worried me a little as he is in a Chelsea shirt, but I’ll forgive him that. It’s another coffee that doesn’t have a name (or does as I found out later), and Canton Uyunense is a huge area, so it’s not super helpful as a description.
We drive up to the farm and get a call to say that Teodocio is not at the farm but is shopping in Caranarvi (sound familiar?), but as it was he was zooming up the mountain to meet us, as he was very keen to show me around. We have a hang-around of about an hour waiting for him to come up the mountain, but he does so and we follow him to the farm. This is one of three farms he owns, and is the one he most recently acquired. It belonged to his wife’s father, who had said the land was no good for coffee and gave it to his daughter and Teodacio.
Determined to prove his father-in-law wrong, Teodacio went about ripping out lots of the plants and reorganising the farm. He has been doing this over time and he showed us part of the farm that has two year old plants, four year old plants, and six year old, and he is slowly planting ever more. He also has a program cutting back plants, to produce new stems and branches which helps the quality of the cup.
All around and near the farm there are people growing coca, but Teodocio is convinced it’s the right thing to do coffee. He’s a very very gracious host, and a cool man (apart from his football allegiances). He is quite different to the other growers I meet in Bolivia: much more progressive.
I of course couldn’t leave it here, and had to ask him about the footie. He says he has the Chelsea shirt from when he played football, as his team had blue shirts. He enjoys football but doesn’t really have a premiership team. So I of course offered to send him a Sunderland shirt, to which he got very excited. One convert in Colombia
And this is the end of the Bolivian adventure. I have really enjoyed it; I learnt so much about production, and so much about the growers and the unique issues they have. This is why I have to travel to meet producers. If I stayed in Stafford I could probably still buy the coffee with the aid of Skype and email. But I have bought from some of these farms for four years, and only this week have I truly understood them. This can not only help us explain their situations to you, but also to understand the unique issues they have.
So tonight I had the scariest journey in the world: a trip in a dust cloud on some of the most dangerous roads I have ever encountered. We left at 4 pm on the dot, and we arrive in La Paz at 9pm. I chuck my bag in the corner and book my 1:45 am wake up call for my next trip to Colombia.