By Colleen Rae
Imagine a pumpkin carving tool. A tool you bring out to trace the lines of a picture onto the orange surface. The tool itself is orange, shaped with a small handle leading to a circle with spikes cut out in it. Now envision a mountain, full of greenery. Take that tracing tool and run it across the mountain side multiple times and you get rows upon rows of coffee plants. They grow into coffee beans you may find yourself consuming at your local Starbucks in your mochas, lattes, espresso shots, and so much more. Coffee can bring people together.
As we woke up at 7 or 7:30, we prepared to drive to the house of Esteban Meneses and his family. Our common ground and what brought us together was coffee production and friendly relations. The interaction between Esteban’s family and our group of fifteen students and teachers was unlike no other. This one family invited us into their home, showed us their lifestyle, and shared delicious food. We were even allowed the opportunity of planting coffee plants.
After driving down a very long dirt road on the ridge of rolling foothills, Esteban led us to holes yet to be filled by plants. Each member of our group was able to plant one or more coffee plant. No person stood back and refused to put their hands in the dirt, everyone jumped in and helped other people. We were able to see the true extent of one of the three coffee farm locations belonging to the Meneses. Not once did Esteban shy away from showing an aspect of his family’s lifestyle to us. We were introduced to his aunt, who owns the business with Esteban’s mother and her family. No one held back from talking to each other.
This behavior carried on for the rest of the day. Whether we were outside talking to Esteban and his older brother, Diego, or inside playing card games, everyone was laughing and spirits were high. As the day continued, we were met with past Christchurch families. The Alvarados and Hurtartes arrived at the Meneses’ and our two groups fit in perfectly with each other. There was at no time a lull in conversation. We continued to eat until our stomachs were full, talk until our mouths hurt, and smile until our faces were sore. When it came time to leave, new friendships had been born. No one wanted to go back home. The conversations lasting for hours had seemingly just begun. The stories shared were still fresh in our minds. We left the Meneses’ house with full stomachs and minds along with coffee from their farm.
Mom, if you’re reading this, yes, I did drink coffee. Yes, I did get you some. Finally, yes, I’m safe and alive.