The Great Roof, of Villa Rica
(It’s how it was… in the coffee plantation countryside, 2007)
The coffee plantations (or farms) lying close to the township of Villa Rica, raised coffee beans (when red, they looked like berries) which commanded top prices in Lima, and elsewhere throughout Peru, reached by bus or car only, from La Merced, mostly dirt roads. And those folks in town not engaged in the coffee business, were in the trades—carpentry, mechanic, or the restaurant business, house painting or building or the like. The few small grocery stores, bars and one main hotel, were all in walking distance and on the Main Street, which had just been paved with concrete, otherwise it was for eons, a dirt road. A city of ten-thousand or less, nestled within a green and luscious valley, cuddled by the Andes.
On summer mornings men, women and children went to work on the coffee farms. And when the coffee beans ripened, everyone was rushed back to work and the streets of city were once again deserted.
Smaller trucks were loaded with boxes of coffee beans while children and dogs played and laughed nearby, and everyone else picking those coffee beans in the plantation type setting, a few banana trees scattered among the coffee plantation, and a few young men would shake the tree to get a cluster of bananas for the workers, men smoking their afternoon pipes after a meal, or chewing coca leaves, they carried in their pockets, talking about production.
At night folks of the town loitered in the nearby park, up a ways from around the hotel I was in, it had a statue of a giant coffee pot in the park, a city icon that seemed to disturb the new mayor for some odd reason. Children recited poetry for their coming poetry fiesta, and the normal talk among the old folks on: horse racing, politics and religion. It’s how it was in Villa Rica—
Old men with lit pipes, young women with lovers, kids laughing, everyone gossiping along the curbs, all throughout the city sidewalks and especially on Main Street, in Villa Rica. Everyone had put on their white clean shirts, after a long day of crawling over and through the bush like shrubbery, of the coffee plantations, those coffee bushes on the farms, rows of coffee beans looking at you, in tangled masses. The girls put on pressed clean skirts and blouses, walked up and down the sidewalks before the young men. Under the trees lovers embraced.
At the end of the season for coffee bean picking, there was always a mild outburst of marriages to the town. So nicely isolated there was no great national problems that touched closely their lives, they received three newspapers three times a week, amongst the ten-thousand.
The soul and its destiny of each person was spoken out in the open on the streets, as was poetry, or the recent sermon at the church, and the coffee picking for next year, that was all that seemed to occupy the minds of the citizens of this little town.
The town had a character of its own. All the citizens of Villa Rica were like one big family. It was a town with an invisible roof of which everyone lived beneath. Here boys and girls fought and quarreled went to the same schools, formed life long friendships, fell in love, married, became fathers and mothers, grew old, sick and died. That’s how it was in Villa Rica—
No: 799 (4-21-2011)
Haiku on Truth
When you seek out truth
You may find an end in life—
Just a child will do…
No: 2930 (4/17/2011)