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Thinking outside the Cup !

What's Brewing

Monday, December 1, 2003 Among clouds and coffee

Today was a very interesting and informative day. We met with Guillermo Vargas, the manager of the Santa Elena co-op, here in Montverde. He is a very knowledge man about Monteverde and its history and all of the issues around fair trade coffee. He took us on a tour of the area, including a stop on a family´s coffee farm where we were able to pick our first coffee cherries!

Meghan Casey picking her first coffee cherries.
Hands at work in the field.

Now we´ve seen where it all begins.

The mother of the family is on vacation from her full time job as a teacher. She works at a kindergarten school just down the road. It is the only kindergarten school in the area and does not receive government funding because it does not have enough students over the age of 5 to qualify for financial support. An American organization called Zonta has supported the school and Lilian´s salary for a few years but has decided to reduce contributions and the school will be cut off completely in the next year or two. The school is already operating in the red and depends a lot on donations. The one room classroom doesn´t even have a blackboard.

Outside of the Monteverde Kindergarten
Lilian and her husband work hard on their holidays to harvest the coffee that they grow on their property.

We are excited to do what we can to help this school. It is one of the many charming sights of the Monteverde area. Yesterday we took a spectacular walk through the clouds in the Santa Elena Reserve in the Children´s Eternal Rainforest. This protected land is a wonderous forest of trees, flowers, birds and other wildlife. We went a bit too late in the day to see a lot of the critters but the scenery was amazing. The trails we took had 8 suspension bridges where we literally walked among the tree tops with misty clouds just metres away from us. The bridges themselves are an engineering marvel.

One of the interesting sights from the Monteverde cloud forest
Vista from within the cloud forest.
Suspended above the forest canopy.
There is lots more to explore in Monteverde and we are excited to spend more time here in the New Year. For now though, we´re off to Sarapiqui to work with the co-op there. We´ll be in touch soon!

Meg Fitz and Meg Casey

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