Trips: Meeting Our Guatemala Partners Face to Face

Written by Cafe Campesino on Feb 1, 2005 in NEWSLETTER, Trips |
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Dear friends, given our need to catch up after being away from the office for the past week and absorb the thrilling experience we had journeying throughout the Highlands of Guatemala, we only have enough time to write a brief summary of our recent meetings with our producer partners there. A more in depth article is on its way though and will be included in a future issue of Fair Grounds.

Roaster Lee and I have just returned from a fantastic week in Guatemala, leaving Bill behind to continue his language studies and ongoing work with our producer partners there. Thanks to Bill’s aggressive itinerary and experience and the hospitality of our Guatemalan friends, we were afforded truly extraordinary opportunities to speak with our producer partners and view their beautiful Guatemalan Highlands. Though we saw natural beauty that was stunning, including active volcanoes, Lake Atitlan and the historic town of Antigua, by far the most satisfying aspects of our trip revolved around the people we met, the conversations we had with our producer partners and the knowledge that we gained about their lives as coffee producers, the role that fair trade plays and our shared expectations for the future.

The three most important themes that emerged from our meetings with our producer partners are: 1) though fair trade’s impact has been real and positive, they continue to face the pressures of the subsistence conditions in which they live and are struggling to meet the most basic needs of their community, principally food and medicine; 2) they are justifiably proud of their ability to produce extraordinarily high quality coffee and want US consumers (including CafĂ© Campesino) to understand the hard work and care they invest in producing fair trade, organic coffee and; 3) through the trust that is built via our fair trade relationship, open, honest dialogue is possible and together, we can develop creative solutions to the problems they face, as occurred during our overnight stay with the community in Santa Anita.

Lee, Hugh (my 6-year-old son) and I left Guatemala knowing that we have true friends there, from the coffee producers who took the time to teach us, answer our many, many questions and interpret Bill’s evolving Spanish, to their children, who reminded us that there are simply not enough hours in a day to climb, run, roll in the dirt, play with water, enjoy bubble gum, laugh, smile and make new friends, even when they come from so far away.

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