Like seeing your first cow with a mouthful of milkshake

On Friday Morning (11/01). Before work. and before the morning coffee break that seems to happen just after you have thrown your first barrow or picked up the paint roller. Herraldo beckoned Pookaverse and the other volunteers into a coffee plantation across the road. Armed with a small white bucket, our small party picked its way through row after row of bushes grinning shiny green leaves. Surrounded by men and women straddling enormous baskets filled with what appeared to be red and green olives. Inside the single greasy, albino but recognisable bean.

Alison plucks a few beans for the bucket

Alison plucks a few beans for the bucket

For the next ten minutes Pookaverse picked coffee and watched the full manifestation of the term “labour intensive” as over two dozen workers lined up behind a flatbed. Their mornings pickings carefully measured and weighed out in an old catering-sized vegetable oil tin. Before being thrown over the shoulders by the administrator. Into the back of the flatbed. Presumably payment by measure. Men, women and their children of all ages.  Picking all day – at all times.

Pookaverse deposited its meagre collection into the swimming basket of a nearby worker...

Pookaverse deposited its meagre collection into the swimming basket of a nearby worker…

This is where it starts. In the worried hands of Ticos and Nicaraguan immigrants. From this plantation to processing in the site just 3/4 mile up the road. To shipping and a relatively clean shelf in Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda or Waitrose. Either in the Percolator or under the kettle – milk and two sugars. Or black.

Men and women line the access road waiting for their turn to be weighed and measured...and paid

Men and women line the access road waiting for their turn to be weighed and measured…and paid

Coffee.

We’ll tell you about the bananas that Tico’s like to eat. And the bananas that they don’t like to eat. Rather send to Europe instead. To appear on them same said shelves. On another weary Friday night excursion to Tescos. Or Sainsbury’s. Or Asda.

The business end where the beans are weighed and un cerimoniusly deposited in the back of the flatbed

The business end where the beans are weighed and un cerimoniusly deposited in the back of the flatbed

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2 Responses to “Like seeing your first cow with a mouthful of milkshake”

  1. Anne Says:

    Glad to read that you are feeling better. Whilst I am happy to see you return slim and all muscle from your last minute exertions on this leg of your trip – returning with a bad back will get no sympathy what-so-ever!!! Remember to limber up and strech a bit (before & after), and don’t worry – I’m sure they won’t laugh at you (much!!!)

    What no tea???? Please!!!!!!!!!!

    All fine here. Tricia has started squash again – Jan and I are still feeling fat / unfit. Hilary has been too busy having friends over for the weekend to go to squash training. She has however investigated the courts at Halton Camp – free entry, and once passed the guards, we had the whole lot to ourselves – four really, really good courts and no one around!! We reckon we could take sandwiches & flasks of tea and make a day of it and no one would notice – so that’s something for you to look forward to when you get back.

    Had our first snow yesterday – looked good on the way down – great big flakes – but didn’t stick (no fun!!) Usual panic reporting on the TV re the end of the world – more to come apparently (hoorah!!)

    Went to the cinema again (that’s twice in a couple of months – unheard of!) Saw “Les Mis”. Very different from the stage production but good – loads more close ups for the emotion etc. Had a long chat with my brother (doing a film / stage course at Uni) about the difference between stage & screen – pros & cons – I felt almost intellectual!!! (Missing those conversations in the chocolate shop – not quite so “out there” without you).

    I am trying to get the team together for my birthday – falls on a Sunday – so start of with squash training – visit to the chocolate shop – up the woods to take Bertie (Jan & Ian’s beloved dog) for a walk – back to my house for a simple lunch (home made of course) – followed by a game of Mah Jong (the others have no idea what I am talking about, but it is a Jones family traditional game – so they will just have to learn it pretty quick) – and then tea and cake before going home.

    It won’t be long after that that you are back – so then we can start planning the “welcome home” festivities.

    Hope the rest of the work goes well and that the back’s last!!!

  2. Thompson Says:

    Lot’s more snow since Anne’s post. Hope things are well with you both.

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