I left the finca 8 days after Don Beto’s death. The men were nervous about being left alone to run the plantation, but I insisted that they could handle it during my absence. They have shown themselves up to the task, and in fact, are thriving. The Saturday before I left, my friend Santiago came by to assist me with a meeting I held with the men. There was a lot to go over, and I needed a good translator. Santiago was a prince and stayed the full three hours.
I ended up putting Carlito and Evers in charge and they seem to sit a little straighter in their chairs when I made the announcement. They would make decisions collectively, take turns on their days off, and I would call in several times a week. I signed checks for the upcoming payrolls and left them with Martita at the bank. I set up a petty cash basket which Juana hides behind the cereal box for incidentals. Evers is taking driving lessons and so far, the truck has survived his enthusiasm. Don Roberto and Don Rafael, both farmers who rent land from us to grow corn, are also truck drivers. They have graciously volunteered to drive the truck for farm errands while I am gone. In return, they have an open invitation to Juana’s lunch and coffee whenever the mood strikes them. I take turns calling the men so as not to play favorites. Yesterday, I could hear Vigil in the background saying it was his turn to get the next call from the states.
Evers is halfway through completing the Broca traps and should make our goal of 500 by June. Carlito , Vigil, and Heraldo are digging 300 holes this week to plant our new Cuscatleco coffee trees. Juana’s kids have taken it upon themselves to watch over our Paulownia tree nursery under the watchful eye of their uncle Carlito.
Meanwhile, I am pursuing avenues to market our Tecapa Blue Coffee here in the states. It’s not as much fun and I miss the finca, but getting the word out is an important aspect of the finca’s future success. I am cold ALL the time! I took for granted that every day on the finca is one filled with sunshine and warmth. San Francisco, as many of you know, has a mind of its own when it comes to weather. To think I lived in Chicago for 15 years!
Sadly, it came to light that the driver and owner of the delivery truck that struck Don Beto are known to me. I had hoped they would offer some assistance to the family, even a few hundred dollars would make a substantial difference. The last I heard just prior to my leaving from several sources, is that the owner of the vehicle paid off the police to make it all go away and the family has been denied any help. The exact sum paid is not known, but all guesses suggest an amount of $1,000. The driver who we were told went to jail, never did, and is kept hidden away working on a distant finca.
It is a difficult pill for me to swallow being a part of this small community, yet still a foreigner when it comes to understanding, “how things are done.” The poor are afforded few rights, and their hardships quickly forgotten.