For a coffee lover, one of the best things oin life is probably to see where this wonderful product comes from and how it’s worked. I’ve been lucky because this week I had the opportunity to visit a coffee community where I’ve learned many notions about coffee and the local cafetero culture. Precisely, I’ve been in Tibacuy, a municipality in the Cundinamarca department, and hosted by a local family of coffee growers.
When I arrived to the Tibacuy area, I realized how it was completely different from Bogotà. As Tibacuy is situated at 1,600 meters above sea level, the weather is warmer, and consequently, the plants and animals that live there are abundant in diversity. The typical landscape here is filled with lush vegetation that includes coffee and banana plants, and there are also a large variety of tropical flowers such as hibiscus and orchids.
Apart from hiking the local area to discover the magnificent plants, a young member of the community gave me a tour of the rock art made by the Panche indigenous people that lived here before the Spanish conquest. I really loved going to see the rock art and I felt like an explorer, as I had to cross thick forests of banana trees and coffee plants to find undiscovered and hidden archaeological art. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research of the petroglyphs that Panche left behind and there are probably many more undiscovered rocks with carvings that have yet to be discovered. Knowing more about this art is extremely important for the preservation of local identity and can also be a good opportunity to increase tourism in the area. Many young people have been forced to migrate to bigger cities to find work and tourism is something the community has been focusing on recently in hopes of being able to provide more jobs and opportunities locally.
Living with a local coffee family has probably been the best part of my trip, as I’ve had the opportunity to get directly involved in the everyday-lives and activities of community members. For example, I helped the mother to cook and learned how to prepare some typical Colombian dishes like arepa (a flatbread made with corn) and patacón (pressed and fried green banana). I also worked a little bit in the vegetable garden and discovered how relaxing it can be for a city person to be in touch with the land (it’s something we’re missing in our modern cities). Overall, the family that hosted me has been very kind, helpful and made me feel like at home. I really believe that among coffee-growing campesinos there is still a strong sense of solidarity, where due to tough conditions, everyone helps the other even if there aren’t any resources. That’s why I think I really had an authentic and deep experience in Tibacuy.