In the month of January there is an epic 3-day mountain bike stage race called the Tour of Suffering in the Dominican Republic. It starts in Jarabacoa, which is an hour away from the coffee farm and it goes through the mountain ranges of the DR and it ends in Santo Domingo. This year I, Keren Wallace, was living in Colorado going to school at Western State Colorado University and I decided to fly to the Dominican Republic to do the stage race again and bring my boyfriend along to do it with me. We spent 7 days on the island and spent 2 of the days at Spirit Mountain.
Growing up spending weekends at the farm was normal for me but for my boyfriend, Grant, it was a whole other experience. Grant got to learn about the coffee growing process, got to pick coffee beans from the tree in the rain, spend 2 days with no internet and electricity, and got to go camping on a coffee farm. The whole experience was surreal for Grant and getting to see it from a different perspective was eye opening for me. Getting to share this place that I call home and one of my favorite places in the world with this special person was truly amazing.
Coming back after spending time away from the farm makes you realize the beauty that surrounds you, and makes you more aware of what’s right in front of you. Arriving at the campsite and collecting wood and fire starter before night falls is always a race against the last light. Cooking dinner in the outdoor kitchen with headlamps and hoping you didn’t accidentally cut off your finger while chopping vegetables is an adventure in itself.
The first night we were there, Grant asks me where the shower is, I pointed to the shack that was behind the kitchen and he looked at me as if I were joking. “This is the wilderness, prepare for showering outside in the cold”, I told him. A couple minutes later I hear some shrieks and I laughed, knowing that cold showers are always a shocker at first. Coming from hot showers and insulated houses to cold outdoor showers and sleeping in a hut was quite different for Grant. As we were falling asleep, Grant touches my shoulder and asks was the noises are, I told him that those are crickets and insects that live outside. Being asked these questions made me realize that not everyone gets to experience falling asleep to crickets, getting woken up in the middle of the night by horses walking underneath your hut or the wild boars making noises in the distant.
Sharing one of my favorite places in the world to people is such a fun thing to do and I am always honored to share those experiences with others. Learning about the coffee farm, how coffee is grown and processed and the importance of it in our culture. If it’s a couple hours, 2 days, or even a week, time on the farm is always precious and valuable. Getting to cherish what is around you and learning new things is always something people should thrive to do.