Thursday, November 29, 2007

More guatemalan coffee

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting Cornell University at the beautiful town of Ithaca NY, I came across one of many places heavily frequented by students. It was Collegetown Bagels. I was surprised that the usual punch-card of "buy N and get 1 free" that I got when I purchased a cup of coffee had images resembling Mayan hieroglyphics. After closer examination once I was at a table, I realized that they were indeed Mayan hieroglyphics! (I wish I knew their meaning)

Digging a bit the mystery, I found out that the owner of the place actually buys coffee from Guatemala. He gives an account of his trip to a place in the vicinity of Volcán Tajumulco! His depiction of the poor people working in the fields is very accurate. I've seen it myself.

It's commonly known that the people that work in the coffee plantations get a small fraction of the profits in the worldwide coffee market. However it seems that these guys are buying coffee beans at a much higher price, it's what they call 100% fair trade. It's the first time I hear something like this. I am no expert in the topic nor I know any details, yet I really hope this kind of things become an improvement in the quality of life for the people of the mountains living in Guatemala.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wifi, laptop and a bar

What happens when you go with your laptop computer to a bar with wireless network? Out of all the things that could have been, this one actually happened...

I got in and had a beer. The place is almost empty. In one corner there is a group of people playing some awesome Celtic tunes. A drum, a banjo, a guitar and a violin. Four guys in a table, playing their music and having some beer, like anybody else in the place. After a couple of tunes a girl joins with her violin. They play together another tune. At the end of it, the four guys introduce each other to the new member of the band! Few minutes later a new guitarist joins the group of musicians. The melodies are beautiful. The music transported my imagination to an old english tavern full of pirates!

I was not able to resist the desire to share what I was witnessing. So, I took my laptop out of my backpack and connected to the local wireless network. I knew that my girlfriend was online in the chat. I told her to open Skype and to just listen. I explained to her via chat where I was and what was going on. Now we both were chatting and listening the same music, being more than a thousand miles apart! To preserve the moment, I grabbed my digital camera and recorded a small video clip of the superb performance. And then... why not! I can use the computer to record a few tunes! And so I did. For the mono input of a laptop microphone, the quality was not bad. It is enough to recall my the memories of that night (no commercial use is intended!).

After about half and hour of electronic sharing, each of us continued with our own local activities. And while I kept listening to the music and drinking my beer, I thought about the ways in which technology helps to keep people in touch...

What a glimpse... we are living amazing times!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Guatemalan coffee

Few days ago, I went to Penn State University located at College State, Pennsylvania. While we were coming back from lunch, we stopped for some coffee at one of these local, small stores. My surprise was that among the different kinds of coffee offered there was Guatemalan coffee, from Huehuetenango! They misspelled the name of the place (click image to enlarge it). Probably nobody noticed that. But I wonder how many (if any) actually did...