Sunday, January 24, 2010

Clearing the finca garden

Today was a long day of clearing weeds in the front part of the finca. I was glad of the shade from all the trees, and went more than 6 hours without a break. These pix may give a bit of a sense of the work done during the day. They are taken with a low res camera -- an Olympus, that we bought last time there was an AERA conference in New Orleans -- but hopefully there is enough definition to give a sense of the work involved.

The only pic that merits a specific mention is the first one showing a plant propped up by a stick. This propping was the work of David's young son, Jose Alfredo, who I talked about yesterday over at everydayliteracies A closer up pic would reveal that he had chosen a branch that had in turn spread out into three branches, such that there were like 3 sawn off finger stumps at the end. He had used these to wedge the plant stem so it would stay secure. Jose Alfredo would be maybe 6 years old. Great kid.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More from the hacienda

How civilised. There is now a wireless hotspot at the bus station in Xalapa (The CAXA). It lets us cash in on BOTH our mexican internet subscription AND our annual US Boingo international thing -- that's the one that gives you unlimited anywhere there is a Boingo hotspot for $60 a year. It's a total boon for air travel.

Now it's proving quite cool for bus travel as well.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Incredible Ex Hacienda Zimpizahua

This post will be a work in progress for some time, because there is so much to write about this former hacienda, in Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, that dates from 1547 and only ceased coffee production about a decade ago. We have a large photo and video archive. The videos will be used to produce a music video and I am sure we'll go back many times to re-acquaint with Joaquim, the manager, and his family, and update as necessary.

Meanwhile, I'll begin by loading some pix in the order in which we took them as we meandered our way around the portion that is now the hotel, up to the events area, back through the restaurant area to the big interior courtyard, past the various former production buildings, to look at the still-functioning aqueduct, and then out to the former coffee bean fermentation, drying and roasting area and, finally, up to the level of the aqueduct and then out through the entry area to the road.

This first sequence will get us started. We walked in past the check in desk and met the manager. He said we were welcome to look around, so we began with a walk down a pathway in front of some hotel rooms and up some steps to a covered area that looked out over some gardens and over some current work in progress. This sequence gives a sense of some of the gardens around the hotel area.

Monday, January 04, 2010

First bananas

Something I have long wanted to do is to grow and harvest bananas. I told Gabriel this when we bought the coffee land from him -- in the days when he retained the lot beside ours as a place to play. He very soon had some palms on both lots. This year they have produced.

Gabriel sold his land to Gerado and Jimena, who live in Mexico City. They don't get over and so the past two years we have worked an arrangement with them whereby we clear their land in return for the coffee and bananas. It's a good arrangement because it turns into a kind of "gift that keeps on giving". We pay David and his family to clear the land and to pick the coffee, which gives them some income. In the case of good harvests we get surplus coffee to sell, which pays for what we pay David's family and means our own coffee production is cost neutral. In leaner harvests, like this year, it means we get enough coffee for a decent scale of production. And, it means that all the land is kept looking "occupied", which preserves its integrity.

When we arrived on the land yesterday we found that David had cut three big bunches of bananas. There is another big bunch still to come in the next few days and there will be further bunches later on. So we took one bunch to bring back to the house for ripening and gave two to David. We'll take the next bunch. That will keep us and Dona Angelita's family in bananas for a while. Meantime, the palms will clump and multiply, meaning that in another year there'll be more, and so on.

Here are some pix of the first bunch.