(by Becca Waterloo)
This feeling of accomplishment only enhanced during our third day in Mbale when we went all the way up the mountain to Geoffrey’s father’s (Bernard) house (and Geoffrey’s ancestral home) to meet Bernard and see the actual coffee farms. With more welcoming and personal introductions, we were on our way through the tall matoke/passionfruit/apple trees down to find the coffee trees, new and old, by the farmers themselves. I felt self conscious, honored, and extremely happy where I was at that moment. This was a big deal for us students and for the farmers, as it showed both of us hope in each other for the continuation for this project. The farmers gave us a step-by-step process on how to grow, pick, pulp, wash and dry the coffee beans. It taught me a lot to see it in person and volunteer to help with a lot of the steps. After the long tour of their farm, we of course were fed yet again by Bernard’s wife; turkey, rice, fresh avacado, pineapple, chapatti… Another spectacular meal by the Ugandans.
An unfortunate worry of ours was buried in our heads; the 2 p.m. rain. During a formal sit down with Jake, Bernard, the farmers and our class, it started to rain…heavily. We were so convinced how awful the roads get washed out, and it would be rude for us to be rushed during such an important sit down between Crop to Cup and the farmers. It was a small feeling of helplessness, but we were reassured “we can relax”. The climax of the trip in my opinion was sitting in Bernard’s living room, the rain down pouring on the aluminum roof above us, and Jake and Bernard doing their next steps in their business together. The harder it rained and the deeper in the conversation it got, the more fidgety I may have gotten about our safety down the mountain; however it was amazing and real to see this interaction between a CEO of C2C and the farmers themselves.
Having been in a nasty car accident a while back, the next part of my trip was the only part I felt uneasy and unsafe (no matter how much I had trust in our driver, Noble). The roads were slippery (an understatement) and about 7 locals had to guide our truck down the hill as it slipped and slid from one part of the road to the other, getting stuck in holes, and at one point we were at a 45 degree angle down the road, the tire right under me being the most helpless. I couldn’t breathe, as it was an identical feeling to a rollover I’d experienced in high school, but this time we were on a mountain rather than the flat planes of Nebraska. I felt silly at the end, but you can’t help a fear like that.
It was a mellow night that night, after falling in the mud, being terrified of falling down the mountain, and an exhausting (mentally and physically) dinner of meat (?) and chapatti, I decided to make it an early night, write down some thoughts, organize the materials from our site measurement and sleep.