All last week, I talked about my study abroad class to Chiapas, Mexico and the lovely town of Nuevo Yibeljoj. This week, I thought I would concentrate on the two trips I took after the study abroad class. First we went to Agua Azul Waterfalls and then the Mayan ruins at Palenque. I will talk more about Palenque on Wednesday. Today, I leave you with a photo and post I submitted last week to toemail.wordpress.com – Check out their site at the link above the photo.!
hanging out at union majomut
On Monday’s post, I talked about my initial visit to Nuevo Yibeljoj in Chiapas, Mexico. Meeting the children of the town at their school was one of the highlights of my trip. But of course the other highlight was talking about coffee.! As some of you may know, I have a thing for coffee 🙂 After our initial meeting and the photograph of the peeking child, we were invited for lunch. So we followed these lovely women to our meal….
women from nuevo yibeljoj
The lunch was delicious.! It consisted of chicken, rice and potatoes. There were also very spicy (picante) peppers if you wanted to add more zest to your dish.! And of course, there was coffee.!! It was straight from the villager’s farms to our cups. I think I had three cups..! It was so flavorful.! Muy sabroso.!
lunch in nuevo yibeljoj
The village of Nuevo Yibeljoj belongs to the Union Majomut coffee cooperative. The majority of cooperative members are of Tzotzil and Tzeltal ethnic origin. The cooperative brings together more than 1000 coffee growing families. The main goal of Union Majomut is to empower indigenous communities which is why even the name is in the local language. Majomut means ‘mocking birds” in the native Tzotzil language. The cooperative was established in 1981 and is located in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.
outside union majomuts’ warehouse
In 1994, the cooperative became fair trade certified. This certification allowed the cooperative to continue enhancing the lives of coffee farmers through several methods. Union Majomut strengthened coffee production methods and improved coffee processing by converting to organic farming to conserve soil. It eliminated the use of middlemen or coyotes. The cooperative also organized women coffee growers and promoted micro banks in rural communities.
jute bag from union majomut
Union Majomut has received support from various foundations including the MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Oxfam Netherlands to name just a few. The coffee cooperative also sells coffee internationally to Cafe Direct and Pangaea. It was the thrill of a lifetime for me to not only be able to visit the coffee cooperative, but to also visit one of the villages that produces the coffee. The opportunity to sit and drink coffee with the actual farmers was a very humbling and rewarding trip for me.! I will never forget it because that trip changed my life 🙂
If you are interested in learning more about Union Majomut – I have included their link –
In March of 2010, I took my last class for my master’s program. Luckily for me, that last class was also a study abroad trip to Chiapas, Mexico. While we were in Chiapas, we learned about sustainable growth, indigenous rights and the history of Mexico. We met with many groups, toured non-profit organizations and visited some villages. And of course, we ate some great food – moles, tacos, chicken, etc. And we drank some wonderful coffee as there are many coffee farms in Chiapas.!
One of the villages that most stands out for me during that trip is Nuevo Yibeljoj in Chiapas, Mexico. The town is in the highlands of Chiapas and in 2010 had a population of 595 residents. The town’s inhabitants are Tzeltal or Tzotzil speaking indigenous peoples. Many of the residents have small coffee farms in what can only be described as their backyards. The town belongs to the coffee cooperative Union Majomut. This is the reason I really enjoyed the coffee here. It was straight form the farms to the roaster to my coffee cup.! I promise in Wednesday’s post to speak more about the town, coffee and the coffee cooperative.
But today, I just want to describe the initial moments of that visit. We arrived at the town and were greeted very warmly. Eventually, our entire group was led to the building where all of the town’s ceremonies are held. There was a ritual performed before we entered and only aduts were allowed inside. The meeting was held in Tzeltal or Tzotzil (not sure), Spanish and English. However, while the meeting was very interesting, what soon caught most of our attention were the little kids from the town peeking through the wooden boards of the building.!!
I was able to capture what I believe is the best photo of this “peeking” because I was sitting the closest to the children who were outside. It was so precious.! And delightful.! As with all children, they were so curious to see who these strangers were (us – the students) and wanted to watch our every move. Later on, we went to the school and the children sang for us which was also truly amazing and inspiring. I have often wondered which of the children’s eyes I captured that day. But that will continue to remain one of life’s mysteries…..
courtesy of awkwardyeti.com
My love affair with coffee began when I was a little girl. I loved my mother – she was an amazing woman. And of course like most little girls, I wanted to copy her in everything that she did. Which of course included drinking coffee with her! Needless to say as a small child, I should not have been drinking coffee. So my mother doctored up my beverage with lots of warm milk. Then she would throw in bread which would soak up the soggy goodness of the sweet coffee. It was almost as good as eating a dessert..!! And so a tradition…and an addiction…were born.
courtesy of historyspaces.blogspot.com
The world’s tradition and addiction with coffee began, according to myth, with Kaldi. Kaldi was a 9th century goat herder. Apparently, he discovered coffee when he noticed that his goats had extra energy when they nibbled on the red cherries of a particular bush. Kaldi tried the red cherries himself and became energetic as well. His excitement led him to take the cherries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery. However, the holy man disapproved of their use and threw them into a fire. From this fire, an enticing aroma emanated. The roasted cherries (beans) were raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water. And the world’s first cup of coffee was born.
courtesy of coffeeworld.com
My personal addiction and the world’s collided in the form of Starbucks. I wanted to own my own coffee shop and I thought why not learn from the best. So I went to work for Starbucks Coffee Company where a career and passion were launched. Working there, I became interested in fair trade coffee and the human component involved in the coffee farms around the world. So I went back to school to get my master’s degree. My thesis was on direct trade coffee and fair trade coffee. This dream culminated in a study abroad trip to Chiapas, Mexico where I visited coffee farms and fair trade co-opertives. It was the trip of a lifetime. However, just as wanting to be with my mother led to my love affair with coffee – my passion for coffee led to my love affair with Mexico which led to this blog. So you never know which choices you make will lead you to your next dream…your next love…so drink on…
courtesy of treehugger.com
In June 2009, according to treehugger.com, Danish woman under 35 who lived in Copenhagen with a higher education and who worked in a public office were the most dedicated fair trade consumer. Hence, the photo….
However, I like to consider myself a fair trade super woman! Well, minus the Danish part, the blond part, the under 35 part and I don’t live in Copenhagen… Oh hell, I would just like to consider myself a super woman!! lol….
But seriously, I worked for a major coffee company for over a decade which is how I become interested in fair trade. Mainly coffee… Hence, as I pointed out in my first post here, I went to school for a master’s degree which brought me to Chiapas, Mexico. That initial visit to coffee farms and fair trade co-operatives is noted in the blog below… Enjoy..!!