Today we are visiting the community La Soledad. We left for Chanjalé at 4:00 AM. It is a three hours drive from Tapachula by car. On our way to Chanjalé, we made a stop for breakfast at Racho el Porvenir, where Lázaro Vázquez hosted us for breakfast with ranch chicken and some handmade tortillas.
We spent one more hour on the road, and we arrive at Chanjalé, where Don Mario Roblero was already waiting for us, who would be our guide in this adventure. Mario, Esteban, and I (Lucía) carried a backpack with water, raincoats, fruits, hats, sunglasses, and any gadget that could have been useful in an emergency. Don Mario, on the other hand, only carried a light sweater in his hand.
We started the tour, and we left the comfortable paved path passing between the houses, and very soon, we realized that there was no street or alley. There was no path towards the mountains. The slope was so steep that we wondered if we would reach the community at all.
We followed Don Mario, who patiently waited for us every pause we made to breathe and check out a spectacular view. The mist was still low, and the air was fresh and humid. Conditions were favorable to us since it is impossible to imagine making the same route under the sun.
We also made a couple of stops to greet some of the locals. They were very excited to see our local Node Mario López in their area. They do not have such kinds of visits very often because of the difficulty of getting there.
Sometimes, we had to move toward the edge of the road to let pass the mules that came down to be loaded with supplies, ones that would go up to the community, and ones that already came back from Chanjalé loaded with food, plants, and items.
Not even ten minutes passed when we asked Don Mario again- are there only uphills? How much more is missing? How long does it take you to reach the community? Of course, with the hope that he would tell us that we were going to arrive in no time or that there were no more uphills, but his response was not even close to our wishes. We still had to climb; the flat path's small spaces were perfect to rest a little, the legs that at times betrayed us and refused to continue without first resting.
We crossed two long bridges made of rods, cable, and branches. Each step required our full attention (at least that was the way it was for me) since, due to the constant rains of this season, the entire bridge was covered by mold, and it was very slippery.
After two and a half hours of walking through the clouds, enjoying the coffee plants loaded with cherries, crossing rivers, sharing the path with horses and mules, greeting the residents of the place who went up and down as if there was no challenge on the track, we reached the community of La Soledad.
They received us with great pleasure, and they were surprised upon our arrival. They said, "We thought you were not going to come," and we replied, "Of course we were going to come, and we will return whenever it is necessary."
We talked with them about the progress of the export project of their coffee. They were amazed when we presented to them the photos that we had printed. We showed them images of the process in the mill, each bag with an identification number corresponding to their delivery tickets, truck unloading the coffee in Tuxtla, the preparation of the container, the transfer to the port of Veracruz, the journey across the ocean, and the arrival at the warehouse in Barcelona.
But the most exciting and emotional moment turned out to be seeing the coffee bags with their names. We immediately noticed that they felt motivated to work and take more care of their plants and the process during and after the harvest, in their words, "Now, it is worth it."
The other adventure for the return was the rain that accompanied us and refreshed us all the way, the clouds were thicker, and the beauty of landscapes that I cannot put into words. That day we came back to our homes full of satisfaction and beautiful memories.