If I hadn’t come to Sacramento at this time of the year then I might have gone my whole life without knowing that I am allergic to coffee flowers! Who knew? Even if this tiny town doesn’t have a restaurant to its name, they at least had the good sense to install a drugstore. After giving a vivid mime demonstration of what ailed me, I was able to get that little miracle, known to the modern world as allergy medicine, and now I am prepared to brave any flower that happens upon me.
Sacramento in Minas Gerais is one of those places that does not really want to be found by the outside world. Once you leave the main two lane highway that runs through Realeza, the road takes on the contours of the land. Bending, winding and eroding in some places, this road is certainly well used. But it is not the road that you pay attention to as you make your approach to the little town. The hills of coffee on either side of the road let you know that you have arrived in coffee country. The arching rows of coffee plants are all orderly and well planned plots along the hillsides with banana trees and other forms of vegetation to serve as property lines for their owners.
It takes all of five minutes to drive slowly through the little city. There are small stores that provide all of the little necessities in life, i.e. dish soap, food of various sorts, and havianas. The streets through the town are made of brick and stone, and are fairly well maintained. The Coorpol coffee coop is located at the very entrance to the town and opens into the street with a garage-style roll down door. The men who work here are an easy going, humorous crew who possess a wealth of knowledge about their coffee. No one here speaks English but they certainly all attempt communication continuously! Having only ever studied Spanish, I am always fumbling to speak words with them in Portuguese, it is rough going but I am always well fed, have a bed to sleep in, and have places to go. I call that successful communication! I find the language barrier is always an impediment to my ability to learn, but I have learned so much in spite of this.
I came here a week ago tomorrow, right at the beginning of the seminar teaching the local farmers about all facets of the coffee bean. This included learning the anatomy of the bean, all of the possible defects that it can have, many hands-on training exercises to look for defects, and also participating in coffee tastings. There were many valuable learning opportunities for those who took the course and you could see that they all took the information very seriously, asking many questions and participating in the activities with great enthusiasm. These guys are serious about their profession. Here in Sacramento, the farms are all family operations, all run on the sweat and blood of the family unit. Everybody knows everybody, and they love to drop in on each other, unannounced, for café y bolo (coffee and cake).