Over the last two weeks, we’ve taken you on a mini adventure and sharing some exciting stories from Dan Binks’s (Technical Manager at Liberation Foods) recent tour of Bolivia and Chile. He’s been meeting producers, small holder farmers and co-operative shareholders and here’s the last of the three intriguing diary entries…
Friday 7th October
Today we visited our Brazil nut processor. They grade, size, clean and crack the kernels.
The processor is doing a good job processing and the quality of end material achieved is very good.
Flight 6 of 10: Riberalta to Cobija.
So the return flights have begun. Only 9,202 nautical miles to go.
We will stay in Cobija overnight before flying back to La Paz in the morning. The plan for tonight is to meet again with the board of Coinacapa for a meal in Brazil. There is a border crossing in Cobija which is unguarded so we can come and go as we please.
Dinner was a fish based broth which was thickened with Maize and casava. For those of us who felt game enough there was a splash of spicy salsa……whooooa! Won’t be trying that again. I’m sure the lining of my stomach will need re-enamelling after that spicy sensation.
The Coinacapa board are really nice people and we spent the evening chatting together like old friends….. Can’t wait to come back. Hopefully next time I’ll get out to see some of the more remote gathering communities who are members of this co-operative.
Saturday 8th October
Cobija to La Paz.
Flight 7 of 10. Well the work part of the trip is essentially over, now it’s time to chillax. So I’ve arranged for Nick and I to stay in an Art Deco hotel in downtown La Paz.
We landed in La Paz at around lunchtime. As soon as the cabin was depressurised the altitude took effect again and the oxygen was slowly sucked from my lungs…or so it felt!
But, a remedy was just around the corner. The immigration officer pointed us in the direction of the terminal building to a small café. There we were told to buy a pot of Coca-leaf tea….yes, the leaf from the plant that cocaine comes from. Apparently it is used to regulate the heart which is trying to beat harder and faster to get Oxygen around the body. It was refreshing, so we finished the pot and bought another.
La Paz is the highest Capital city in the World. Sitting in the basin below the airport the altitude in the centre of town is 3,640 metres. Overlooking the city is towering triple-peaked Illimani, which is always snow-covered and can be seen from many parts of the city. Due to its altitude, La Paz has an unusual subtropical highland climate, with rainy summers and dry winters.
If the area ever suffered an earthquake there would be massive devastation as the building would fall like lego bricks and the tumbling rocks from the surrounding mountains would crush anything in sight. But the views across the basin are magnificent!
Main objective this afternoon is gifts for wife, kids and families. Being in the high Andes and in Bolivia, it had to be ponchos made from Lama wool.
Sunday 9th October
La Paz to Santiago de Chile
Flight 8 of 10. 3 hours back to Santiago.
Downtown Santiago is the destination for tonight before heading back to France tomorrow. Time to do some more sightseeing.
Monday 10th October
Santiago to Paris CDG.
Flight 9 of 10. I left Nick in Santiago. He’s flying back via Canada later today and I have meetings in Paris tomorrow and Wednesday. Another 14 hour flight awaits. My body is adjusted to Chilean time which is 5 hours behind France; with the flight leaving at 13:30 I don’t see much opportunity to sleep on this flight and jet lag will kick in tomorrow. I always struggle flying back east.
Tuesday 11th October
As predicted. No sleep. I may have shut my eyes for about an hour, but I kept getting disturbed by the passenger sat behind who was up and down like a yo-yo. I need some of that strong French coffee to get through today’s meetings with French customers.
Home tomorrow night.
Wednesday 12th October
Paris CDG – LHR
Flight 10 of 10. Just about 300 miles left to go.
This has been a bit of a marathon trip. We’ve packed in a lot, met some great people and had some fun along the way. All that’s left to do now is write up the various reports.
I finally got through the door at 22:30 this evening.
Exhausted. But I feel completely privileged to have made this trip. Can’t wait for the next adventure.
That’s the final chapter of Dan’s trip. Stay tuned for more producer visits on the blog. To view last week’s edition click here.