When you climb up to the coffee plantation above the house, this is the view you have looking down into the Central Valley...the mountains in the distance being some forty kilometres away.
And this is the view in the other direction, across the gravel road to the mountain behind, where the spring which serves us with water is situated. Behind it, just three kilometres away, is the town....but you would think yourself miles from anywhere.
On these slopes, the coffee was rooted up years ago, when the boom of the seventies had subsided, but you can still see the terraces, now grazed by the brahma cattle.
While these are the slopes still down to coffee...the white dots are pickers.
It puts forth a couple of early ripening berries on each wand, which have to be removed for the rest to ripen.
So pickers have to work the whole cafetal for very little in terms of financial reward...as the pickings are few.
We try to do this ourselves with Danilo, but Don Antonio will always help out too.
This is the coffee plant ready to harvest....if we want the best prices we want our pickers to take only the red fruit, but the pickers need to fill the cajeula...the official measuring unit, a square metal box...to make it worthwhile coming out, so we compromise and go to a firm which will accept yellowish fruit as well....but, as their notice firmly states...no fruit picked off the ground and no twigs!
The photographs show sunshine, but such are the conditions in our area...now marginal for coffee... that the main haul of the picking is done in driving rain...no joke wearing one stout bin bag as a kilt, another one slit to make a hood and cloak, filling the picking baskets tied round the waist, sliding down the muddy terraces to tip them into the sacks and, finally, bringing them down to the lower road to be weighed and paid out.
The coffee just about washes its face in money terms....pickers will be more difficult to get in the future....we are wondering whether to put the whole area down to pasture...whether to grow something else....or whether to keep on the coffee as a hobby.
This year's weather looks kindlier than previous years....we shall wait and see what the accounts tell us.