Heading home

I am sitting in the airport in Amsterdam, halfway home. I haven’t blogged for the last few days so I will try to catch up on storytelling.

I had a great day on Saturday at the coffee farm tour. I’ve never really considered the long journey required to make my favorite caffeine-filled beverage. From planting the seed to nourishing the plant to harvest and processing and roasting is a multi-year endeavor. The farmers make 250 Rwf per kilo of raw cherries (what is picked off the coffee plant), which is 12 cents per pound. These cherries are carried for miles, balanced in bags on the heads of the farmers, to the processing area. I will never complain about the price of coffee again.

The women of Tuk collaborative

The women who run the farm I visited are part of a collaborative that aims to pay a fair wage for higher quality, specialty coffee beans. Coffee is one of the main cash crops from Rwanda, but there isn’t much coffee consumed there.

My tour guide, Smayah, had never tasted coffee until 2013, when she was hired by a local coffee shop. She is now the head of roasting and quality control, and she developed the farm tour.

Part of the tour was a tasting, called cupping, to see if we could pick out the flavor notes of 4 different coffees. Happily, I have a good sense of taste and could pick out the earthy, sweet, floral, and bitter notes of the coffee that was ground and brewed while we watched. This is an art form that I could definitely enjoy!

On Sunday I did morning rounds at the hospital, where we came upon a 2 1/2 yr old girl and her mother who were looking for a pediatric gynecologist to help them. Luckily, I was with Dr Mama, who sees a lot of these young patients in the US. After the exam and much reassurance that the child was fine, the mother literally dropped to her knees to pray for us. It brought tears to my eyes and was a wonderful reminder of why this work is so rewarding.

Sunday afternoon, I did some shopping at local markets and did a terrible job haggling over prices. Bargaining is not my forte, especially given that everything is so crazy inexpensive in Rwanda. At the Kimironko Market, I picked out fabric and had a dress sewn for me and delivered to my hotel for $20!

I will end here, but will plan one more post before signing off for the year. Thank you to all who read and support me!