We've been back state-side for a few weeks and wanted to share with all our Carabello guests and pals about all the things we learned and experienced while we visited Guatemala and Honduras. We'd like to think the 4 folks that went on these trips had a transformative time and are so excited to share their reflections with you.
(Natural Processed Coffee drying)
(Washed Processed Coffee Drying)
(Pacamara Variety in a nursery)
(Natural Processed Coffee in drying beds)
From the moment I stepped foot back onto US soil, everyone I know has been asking me to tell them all about my trip to Guatemala.
Two problems with that inquiry- the first one being I donʼt like to talk about myself. Apparently, ‘it was perfect/beautiful/life changingʼ is not a sufficient enough summarization of my international adventure. Go figure! Secondly, if youʼre really going to press me to sit down and elaborate about it in detail...I say this in earnest: How could I possibly put into words everything I experienced and how profoundly it affected me in every facet of my life? I feel like to tell the tale right and even remotely give it the justice it deserves, youʼd really have to humor me...and give up at least an hour of your time. Maybe two.
I could go on a monologue about the city of Antigua- where I walked along the ancient cobblestone streets; admiring the romanticism in the architectural style that is simply lost in the monotonous cookie cutter buildings back home. The appreciation for dining on delicious fresh foods alfresco- surrounded by either beautiful topiary gardens and tropical vegetation, or on a scenic balcony overlooking the town and one of the three volcanoes surrounding it. Even the people themselves- humble, respectful, proud and truly kind. Youʼre always greeted with a genuine smile and made to feel welcome. However, be mindful of their virtually lawless ways of driving. Once you figure out the flow of the almost controlled chaos -and that the two-wheeled transports abide by absolutely zero rules whatsoever- itʼs actually kind of a thrill in itself.
Perhaps I could walk you through the several Fincas we journeyed to. Where we found ourselves surrounded in the lush mountainous regions; traipsing through vast rows of Coffee Trees/ Shrubs and eating the ripe cherries picked right off the plants. Witnessing the different processes of the coffee beans firsthand- from Natural and Honey to Washed- and all of the labor, equipment and skill that go into making it possible. Being amongst the workers as they are picking the cherries during harvest. More importantly, watching in stupefied awe as these remarkable individuals haul upwards to 200+lbs of the handpicked goods uphill without running out of breath or breaking stride once...yet still finding the time to happily greet you as they pass by. Then entering the Fincaʼs Labs and ‘Cuppingʼ (testing out via aromatics and tasting) their coffees they have to offer this year. To have the undivided attention of the Farmer responsible for the coffee your tasting -and have them genuinely wanting your personal feedback on their product- is truly a privilege to experience.
Maybe Iʼd tell you what an honor it was to just spend time getting to know the Carabelloʼs better and being able to forge a tried and true friendship with David Holman. We all legitimately enjoyed each otherʼs company and I feel like this trip would not even be remotely as special, had that not been the case.
Whichever narrative Iʼd end up choosing, Iʼd always conclude it the same way- at the beginning of this trip, I viewed the world through a keyhole. Now, Iʼve returned home to find the door ajar and my outlook on life broadened to a scale I never thought possible.
Anthony Bourdain once said “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”
Guatemala definitely left marks behind on me-shaping me into someone I vaguely recognize in the best way imaginable. It was truly a perfect, beautiful, life-changing experience.
I've been back stateside for a bit and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the amazing week in Honduras with Coffee Kids. If you're unfamiliar with that organization I'm going to briefly explain the work they're doing in the coffee world. They work with local farmers in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to help them with climate change and produce amazing coffee. They are working specifically with youth aging 15–35. Most of the youth are from generations of coffee farmers while some just live in the region and are looking for ways to support their community.
We met a small group based in Honduras. Most of the youth are my age. (28) so it was inspiring to be with folks my age. Just trying to figure out our careers. What was also so inspiring was the comradery amongst this group. They were supporting each other in their pursuits. They are passionate about helping each other grow and are ready to partner with each other for years to come.
The community development work that Coffee Kids is doing in Honduras reminds me of the work that People's Liberty is doing back home. When you give folks mentorship, some money, and a community of folks to cheer each other on, you get this amazing connection to happen and things begin to start happening. Lives are radically changed. They begin to believe in their dreams and feel less alone in their pursuits. It's so encouraging to see this work happening in other areas of the world. It showed me that this work isn't only happening in my tiny Cincinnati bubble, but all over the world. I'm just glad I get to play a meniscal role in it.
We are going to continue our partnership with Coffee Kids and I'm so excited to work for a company that believes in enriching the lives of farmers who grow the plant we consume on a daily basis. Not to mention, meeting the next generation of farmers that are going to produce it.