Every week has proven to be filled with many interesting and eye-opening new experiences, but this past week has definitely taken the proverbial cake. My
colleague Chris and I did some field research south of San Martin. We stayed in the town of Juanjui and traveled each day to a different town in the
mountains, meeting with cooperatives and farmers. Juanjui looks like a scene out of a slightly more modern Wild West movie. Once narcos and drug
trafficking were eradicated from the area, what’s left are many businesses and few customers.
Every morning we were picked up around 4am and we traveled to towns roughly two hours from Juanjui to meet with co-ops, farmers and intermediaries. The
effect of coca excavation was even more noticeable in these towns. I also saw first-hand how many farmers and families were affected by the roya (leaf
rust) disease. Some of these farmers will lose 60-70% of their harvest this year, most of which could be avoided by good farming practices like using
insecticides or fertilizers. The look of frustration and helplessness on the majority of these farmers’ faces was saddening and disheartening. One farmer
had two hectares of land, produced 70+ quintales of coffee last year and will produce only five quintales this year! This is definitely an area where we
can propose sustainable change to better the living conditions for these farmers and their communities...so, that's at least an upside.
Over the weekend we were invited to a party at a TechnoServe colleague’s house to watch the Peru vs. Uruguay qualifying match. Even though Peru lost it was
a great cultural experience! On Sunday that same colleague invited us to his friend's cumpleanos in Lamas. It was a REAL South American experience/party
and we were all very thankful he took us along with him. The people here are so welcoming and friendly...they genuinely want to show you how great their
country is with no ulterior motives and expect nothing in return but courtesy and appreciation. Next week Victor and Marissa travel and I'm in Tarapoto, so
it should be the best test of my Spanish yet...no assistance from them! Until next week!