Genaro has to do with women and Manolo not so much, and Genaro to land and Manolo too, and the two are related, in some way, with the Japanese and spring, and the height and superstition, and blue empty bus stops that makes you a little sad and in which you should not ever wait for a bus.
Genaro and Manolo are farmers of this century and they don’t even show it. The peasants of this world, or better, the farmers of this year, and the past, and some earlier last year, chew gum and wear pullovers, jeans and brand name sneakers, give some rest to the horse and use the car, do not hear, in some cases, the rooster crowing in the morning because their sleep tends to be long and heavy and prefer to add chocolate to milk.
Genaro is close to 60 and Manolo forty-five. Genaro wears a hat and boots, has a badly cut fading mustache and deep blue eyes. Genaro says everything fast, so you have to be careful to understand everything. Manolo has that easiness of the countryside at two in the afternoon, is wearing an old blue cap, and his mustache is a little more discreet. He talks less than Genaro, and wakes up like him, at six o’clock so at eight o’clock the work is advanced and still have enough day.
Genaro and Manolo live in Jibacoa. Jibacoa is in the Escambray of Villa Clara and if you go out there and you stop few times, only in two or three places, may seem a little lost in time, where people are too distant from each other, where many hills separate people, and much tree and blue stops seem deserted and some kind of joke, because there are new and very empty and painted, as no other stops elsewhere in Cuba are.
Passing the stops and climbing the hills of Jibacoa is The Craving, a spring where they say that a woman gave birth, and where if you dare and try the water because you are much thirsty, you may never leave Jibacoa. So they say, and Manolo says, and Genaro says, that they don’t leave it, they don’t have anything to do on the plain, they say, because there is life, because there is also coffee there.
It is not that Genaro and Manolo have seen or met many Japanese, maybe one or two, but they know quitel well that few things get Japanese people so mad as the spring.
Spring arrives and then they’re happy because they know there will be coffee for a while. The Japanese can stop eating sushi one or two days, and going to see kabuki and recognize how developed they are in sexual things, and may even stop watching sleeves and marvel at how good they are making dolls and televisions, but it is hard for them to get up and not have a cup of coffee.
Finish the spring and a few Japanese cross the world and come to Cuba, then smile, and kindly take their money and leave with the coffee. They pay up to $ 19 000 per ton of Arabic coffee, one of the most widely planted species in the Escambray, then sell it in expensive shops and large signs in envelopes bearing the name of Crystal Mountain.
Today, Crystal Mountain is one of the most recognized brands. Genaro and Manolo, and other producers of coffee in the Escambray, never tried it, but say it must be good, very good, because the Japanese pay much, because it costs them a grain 0.042 dollar cents, and a can has about 8500 grains, so if you do the math, the money is not bad.
Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico are the largest producers of coffee in the world. Usually quality coffee is grown at over 1000 meters above sea level. Manolo and Genaro understand little of geography, and climate issues and heights, and are unaware that Cuba, surprisingly, is in the exact spot with 23 degrees north latitude and 26 south latitude, the ideal place for there to be good coffee 400 meters and a little more, so that the Japanese run to the Escambray and forget for a while Mount Fuji, with chestnut and birch, and leave happy with the Crystal Mountain.
Those living in the Escambray, those unwilling or unable to leave to the plain, those who are sometimes tight onmoney or who do it for pleasure, are also looking forward to the end of spring.
To “El Algarrobo” Manolo’s estate, come mostly women and some guys when they finish school, and then they’re filling coffee cans. As there is little to do and many people do not want, apply the so-called daily payment, which is to pay sixty pesos for the first can, forty-five for the second, and twenty-five pesos for the third, and so the faster and more agile collect enough, and the more satisfied you are with something, and everyone comes out happy.
Genaro also grows coffee, he has Arabic, and Villalobos, and red and yellow Caturra, as the producers of the Escambray do. He says women are the better collectors, and that he preferred them because then the field looks cute, and because he loves everything that has to do with women, hence the name of his animals, so he doesn’t care naming the oxen, but when it comes to the cows those are well chosen, names well-thought and elegant of women, so one is named Isadora, and Suca, and Calmita, and Azucena, and Estrella.
Genaro and Manolo are, both, lucky men. They do not need anything. Genaro has six children, three of them and three of a woman who left them when she went with another man. Manolo has a child of about four years and a beautiful wife in her twenties They do not need anything else. Remember seeing theater three times in their life, people passing like crazy in truckloads of junk, overflowing with laughter, who would stay everywhere, got amused for a while, then went back into the truck, with tackle and laughter. Genaro remembers them better than Manolo. Both say yes, they have seen these people, that they would not know who they are but they are sure to have seen them. It really does not seem to bother them much because Genaro and Manolo, have seen or not theater, are lucky men: living at 450 meters above sea level, when you are at that point, some things lose significance and other rarely become essential.
At that height, even the breath of the people is different. The breath of the people who live high seems to be stronger, and more loaded, a breath out of the earth. It is the only way to explain why the breath of Genaro and Manolo, farmers of this century, is pure coffee. And if by chance either take a cup early in the morning in their timber houses and hard floor ground, they still would have the same breath. They spend their time, as producers in Escambray, caring seedlings and grains, and waiting six years for the plant to make the first fruit and shade procuring any way affect the sun, and then collecting and selling later the Japanese, who, no matter if they come and buy, their breath should be fresh and minty.
Manolo and Genaro do not chew gum. They use old pants, long sleeves and working shoes, get up with the rooster crowing at dawn and before riding the horse, take a glass of whole milk. They do not need anything else. Finally, they walk a lot, a lot. If they are not on horseback, they prefer to walk. Mind you, never wait on blue bus stops, and new, and empty.