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Raise your hands

Though there are more pleasant colonial buildings in the centre of Jalapa than Villahermosa in the next state down, Jalapa is just as boring. True, it doesn't have the heat and malarial mosquitoes, but that just means you are less distracted from how bored you are. Compounding the boredom is annoyance that no one in the tourist sector knows how one might go about going anywhere or doing anything.

So, after being frustrated in plans to get to remote pyramids as information was not forthcoming until all the timely buses were gone, Nami and I opted to spend our last day in Jalapa out of Jalapa, by going to the satellite town of Xico. I can't tell you what Xico was like, because we found more than sufficient to do to exhaust us on the northern outskirts before we reached the town proper.

First comes the police station with makeshift crow's nests of sandbags with corrugated iron roofs beside and atop, surrounded by tropical plantation. It seemed we had arrived in Nicaragua, a feeling I'd not had since pesero madness to Micquic a year earlier.

Next, after alighting, was a pleasant, if hot, walk through streets where the houses gave way to a blend of house-and-vacant-block-plantation to just plantation as we headed northeastwardly back out of town towards waterfalls and a hydroelectric plant.

There is a very odd series of television advertisements in Mexico where a pale, fine featured Mexican girl (all people on ads are pale and fine featured) who none-the-less has some serious eyebrow, and who, dressed like Indy, rescues treasure from a Chinese pirate junk or the like, and then escapes in a speedboat piloted by some guy. She then triumphantly raises her arm to reveal her porcelain smooth armpit, made nice smelling and/or smooth by whatever the ad is selling, and the guy orgasmically sticks his face in there and starts sniffing. This has led me to believe, in the odds of strenuous local denial, that Mexicans as a society have an armpit fetish. Further evidence came at the waterfalls when a young lady in summer dress stood upon an auspicious posing stone and raised her arms, revealing the porcelain armpits, of which her boyfriend then took photos. There was then some non-discreet skirt-hoisting and new-waterfall-making, but let's not dwell there.

The plantations we had been walking past were banana trees making a canopy over coffee bushes. The whole areas was full of it. As I said, vacant blocks were used as personal plantations, and plants have spilled out and gone wild in the forest surrounding the waterfalls. Some chap has wisely decided to open his commercial plantation and refinery (is that the correct word? Bakery seems off. Plant?) to the public for tours, and hence we went next to Café Gourmet Pepe.

Let us pause here on the topic of coffee. Pyramids (apparently, according to spell checker, I've now been here so long I can't spell that word in English anymore) are what I would best like to send my time at, but if knuckle-heads stop that from happening, a coffee plantation is a very good compensation. I love everything about it. I remember once speaking to a former heroin addict who said he loved everything about heroin – the accumulation of paraphernalia and the ritual of preparation as much as the high. I understand that in the context of coffee – the grinding, the tamping, the cleaning and operation of the machine, the foaming. The layering. The precession of the layers. Hee hee hee.

So, the beans grown here are Arabica, and the altitude of 1,200 metres works very well for these, though the direct sun does not, and hence the banana-leaf canopy. The fruit is green, then it's bright red, and then it's cherry red and ready. We got to pick and open the fruit and suck the beans, which at this stage are yellow and surprisingly sweet.

We then walked amongst the plant, first to a big tub where the beans are washed and separated from twigs and stones and other detritus, then downstairs to where they are funnelled into grindy-doovies that take off the skin and then sweep the skins away, followed by big tanks where they ferment (to get rid of the sugary coating?) for one to two days. Here, the good ones sink and the bad ones float and are scooped out. Next, they go into a giant blue tumble trier (the blue is probably not essential) and that has air blasted in at 70°C (this probably is essential) and they come out gray/green/gold (the guy said the last 2 colours – to me they were just gray), and are then moved to another grindy-doovey to take off the skin bit (like that purple stuff you have to take off pistachios, I suppose), and then there is roasting in a red washing-machine-like doovey. The fact that all the previous came to me in Spanish (although the dude knew English, I am sure) explains any inaccuracies and the non-words to describe the machines.

Many a bean was then purchased.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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