Today we woke up extra early to take a field trip to Asociación de Caficultores la Esperanza( ASOCAES). This organization was founded on November 16, 1969. They grow coffee beans and lemons which they distribute throughout the community and the world. Somewhat recently a coffee plague called la roya wiped out most of their native coffee plants. Since then, they have experienced significant financial loss and production has also gone down. They now use coffee beans from other nations such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil and El Salvador. The farmers have been trying to restart the production of Dominican coffee plants but it has been hard since the plague wiped out nearly 70 percent of the crops. At seven this morning we took a beautiful drive up to the coffee plantation in the mountains where it was a lot cooler and less humid. There we visited the nursery and learned how the coffee plants grow. We also got to help pick weeds out of the growing plants. Next we took a tour of the factory. We saw how the coffee beans were de–shelling, soaked, dried and roasted. The factory had some machines but since production has been low most of the work is manuel. An interesting fact about this factory is that they hire women to do the de-shelling and separating of the coffee beans. This provides more jobs in the community as well as allows the women more freedom because they have their own income. Not only that but there is even feminine coffee (el cafe feminino) meaning it was harvested and distributed by women only. These women get to keep the money they make and don’t have to give a portion to the husbands. In fact, sometimes they even make more money than the men. After the tour we got to taste the coffee. We have to say was a pretty darn good cup of coffee. We then ate lunch with some of the locals before heading back to Dios Diras where we tutored english language learners and prepared then for their graduation tomorrow. We came back to the hostel afterwards to eat dinner and celebrate Zeida’s birthday!!! We ate cake and sang happy birthday! Zeida Santana Zepeda turned 17 today!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! FELIZ CUMPLEANOS!!!!!
By Isabella Volpe and Shanaya Robles