Seasonality is one of so many beautiful aspects of living in Nicaragua. Everyone eats according to what is in season because imported produce from far-flung regions of the world is scarce and far too expensive to be accessible on a regular basis, as it is in North America. So, unlike our neighbors to the north, living according to the rhythms of the seasons is still a way of life here in the tropics. What this means is that each season has started to carry a distinct flavor, smell, and sensation in my memory.
Christmas season in the mountains of Nicaragua looks and smells like the coffee harvest coming in. Coffee is grown in the mountainous regions of the country, way up where the climate is lusher and the air is fresher. As the cool, dry winds of November blow in, the coffee starts to ripen for the harvest. Every late afternoon along the winding mountain roads during this time of year, all of the coffee pickers walk home in the waning light, woven baskets slung across their backs or sacks of harvest heaved onto shoulders. The sour smell of coffee pulp as it’s being processed hangs in the air everywhere. Along the highway, workers at the co-ops push the coffee out to dry on large plastic sheets with wide-brimmed brooms. Later, it will be roasted, and from there, packaged and exported. I can never forget that coffee, the second most valuable global commodity, has its humble beginnings on these quiet mountainside farms.