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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )

mountain high, coffee deep – day 2

banana trees next to host’s house – foto by smith

“up in the mornin. out in the field. work like a dog for my pay. but that lucky ole sun ain’t got nuthin to do but roll round heaven all day.” 1949 song.

never trust time estimates. easter we thought we’d be walking an hour up the mountain, celebrate in the village, walk half hour back down, so didn’t take sunscreen. we were in the sun all day. walked wrong way up mountain. back down. back up other side. hid in the shade in the village. 2 hour walk in the sun back home. Lady turned right red. hurt. add injury to injury, her intestines start to burble on the way back down. then it gets worse – she has an allergy attack due to plants, animals, feathers, dust. she’s tired and hurts from walking mountain all day – she hurts outside, she hurts inside, her insides want to come outside, she can’t breath, we’re in a village of 2,000 people on the side of a mountain on easter sunday with the small pharmacy of course closed and Lady says to me no way can she pick coffee tomorrow. i can’t believe she’s actually being sensible. we’d been told it was 30 minutes down the mountain to get to the coffee trees, and an hour back up with 45 to 60 degree inclinations. they’d asked if we could do that cuz if it was too much, they could go to the closer plot. we’d told them no problem, we’d go down the mountain. the pharmacy was closed, but Tomas was the god parent of the nurse’s child who lived above the shop, so he went out and came back with some allergy pills. Lady found one stomach pill in her purse. that got her through the night.

good morning good morning – foto by smith

next morning, Elviria went to the closed pharmacy and came back with more stomach pills. Lady decided to come with us. she knew they could use the help because picking season is running out and there’s no one to hire in the village to help because a lot of the boys and men have gone to the city or the u.s. to make money cuz there ain’t none here.

walking down mountain 40 minutes to coffee plot – foto by smith

there was dawn rain. i had vague hope they’d call off the coffee picking mountain trek. it was wet, foggy, and quite cold.

no reprieve. the steep path down mountain was slippery, part wet clay, earth, rock, vegetation. the view was fairy tale gorgeous – down steep tree covered mountain side to cloud misted valley back up looming mountain other side. wherever you looked there were more mountains. cloud tops below us. we walked through grass, trees, wild orchids, pineapple plants, arched graceful flowering trees, will-o-wisps, peach coffee banana trees, silence, bird calls, mist, sun, strange flowers, streams. took 40 minutes to get down to camp.

we waited to apply insect repellent, and i got bit 6 good ones descending. applied repellent liberally every 2 hours. have two dozen bug bites anyway.

pineapple plant growing on ground – foto by smith

picked coffee cherries from trees 8 to 15 feet tall for hours. you pull the limber trees over by their branches, hold them to you and pick small-cherry berries from up and down the branches while standing on uneven mountain ground. 3:30 we broke for lunch of meat, black bean soup, coffee, and made-that-morning tortillas cooked over an earth and stone stove.

coffee mountain lunch – foto by smith

we ate beneath a wall-less tin-roofed shelter looking across the valley to another mountain. we could see a village clinging to it. before lunch, Elvira showed us flowering sprouting vanilla vines – and budding pineapple plants which grow on the ground, one pineapple per plant. after lunch we watched two lizards scamper in a sun sex dance on a stump. i’ve seen lizard police before way back in my drinking days, but this was my first lizard sex.

coffee mountain lizard lust – foto by smith

picked more coffee after lunch. the ground was littered with bright yellow fallen lemons. bright red coffee bean cherries glowed in the sun against blue sky. green bananas peeked through yellow green leaves.

bananas – foto by smith

then UP THE MOUNTAIN. coming down was so much work due to constant leg brake i thought it’d be easier climbing back up. i was wrong. i’m 6 foot three inches 175 pounds 62 years old, but we went up the mountain in 52 minutes. i was breathing ragged and got so tired i stumbled to the side once where i looked down a long way i didn’t want to go. the view going up was even more magnificent than going down because it was sun-lit, the mist burned off. trees, flowers, shadows, shapes, river sounds an hour below, textures, stone cliffs, all a mile in the sky. most beautiful place i’ve been.

looking down on clouds is cool.

dinner that night was full of talk and laughter, invitations back. maybe going down the mountain changed how they saw us. changed how we see ourselves.

day’s end – foto by smith

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