Caitlin (the volunteer I'll be replacing) and Lauren, another 2nd year volunteer came up to Kpalime following the swear-in party in Lome. Lauren wanted to learn more about a nearby coffee plantation to bring back information to her village, but also because she loves coffee. Despite the fact that Togo is well suited through many parts to grow coffee, most Togolese don't drink it, those who do drink “coffee” have Nescafe Instant Coffee and the majority of the coffee is exported anyway. Coffee makes my stomach hurt, so I'm not a fan, but I figured it would be fun to go along anyway, as Cafe Kouma is up the mountain and I was happy to do something outside of training and unscheduled.
I'm really happy I went along, and the moto ride up there was great, just by itself. The roads were basically empty, and a tunnel of greenery, except for the parts where it opened up into beautiful views of the mountain side and Kpalime below. I was really nervous about having to take motos in the beginning, but after only a few rides, I've become really comfortable with them and even look forward to them.
Up in Kouma, Kodzo met us at the plantation to tell us about his farm and work. He's worked in the past with Peace Corps through Small Enterprise Development (SED) program (currently being phased out). He had a lot to tell us about his fields, but most of all it was great to see a working organic, shade grown, small business, coffee company as work.
Of course, we went home with coffee (and honey!) in our bags both for ourselves and as gifts.
Even better than that, our beautiful ride home was only interrupted by the chance to stop at some amazing waterfalls!