The next morning we woke up at 5:30 and Yazoo and I went for a 5k run. It is high altitude in here at 5750 ft. It was also still wet. So we had fun dodging puddles. But this city is very modern and beautiful. So we had great running paths. You just have to make sure to listen out for mopeds.
They are battery powered and you can barely hear them coming from behind you on the same path. At least twice I was startled by a moped racing past me from behind.
After the run we packed up all of our things and checked out of the hotel. Today we are headed to a smaller city to the other business office and near the villages. But not before another stop at Starbucks. Switzer is very into coffee.
Fulmer picked us up and we headed out for Starbucks. I found out that this region grows coffee beans. So I bought two bags of regional beans from the Starbucks Reserve store while we were there. Folks, this is good coffee. I brought back those two bags of beans and ground fresh coffee each Sunday for my LIFE Group class for a couple of months. After taking a few minutes discussing the major coffee growing regions of the world, we were off on stage two of our adventure.
On the trip there are about nine tunnels. One of them was more than a mile long. The mountains on this east side of the region looked like the Smoky Mountains with the fog rolling over. We also drove through a stone forest, and saw live Eucalyptus trees.
Upon arrival we saw the new business office. Fulmer and Kevin did a great job getting this spot. It is a two story store front, and the second level is set up for fairly large groups of business folks to lodge as needed.
We unpacked and set out to attend a prearranged lunch meeting with the local agriculture officials. I was in the back of the car and had no idea where we were going. Kevin was driving and he knows this city. So when we turned into a back ally and pulled into a parking spot with people peaking out from behind the blinds of the small windows of the buildings, I was a little confused. I thought we would be going to a large government building. But this seemed more like a meeting with a mob boss.
We all piled out of the car, there were five of us in the little compact SUV, we were greeted by a young lady who quickly got us out of the ally and into a small building that was just set up as one large room with two table. One smaller six top table and then a very large round table. It was set up with the standard place setting for a meal.
After a couple of minutes a slightly rounded gentleman with glasses came in the door flanked by two well dressed (business attire) ladies. We all introduced ourselves and were motioned to sit down at the table.
We were sitting around a big round table in a private location and it felt like I was living a movie scene. Half scared and half amazed. I watched as the official was served by the female hosts like a king. He came in with a cigarette and the ladies made sure he always had a fresh one waiting.
It was an awesome lunch with all local produce and meats. For free. It was amazing food. I was a bit nervous though. As I was eating Fulmer leaned over and translated a few words for me.
This meal had included some cooked mushrooms that were so expensive if bought anywhere else in the world it is a rich man’s delicacy (like $3000 an ounce).
He and Yazoo sat and talked mostly as Kevin translated. But after a while he and Kevin just talked together as Kevin explained our business model Fulmer, Switzer and I sat on the opposite side of the round table, and I was flanked on my left by the two ladies all around a very large round table with a huge lazy susan.
After eating and talking a while. The official leaned back in his chair as to say it was time to get to business. We discussed business and the official gave us tips based on the information that Kevin had relayed, he then told us we could look around for the best growing areas and come tell him what we needed. It was a God thing really.
He took us up to his office, the ladies served us fresh green tea from local leaves, and he gave us each one of his cards. It was our golden ticket to use if we were harrassed in any village by the police. We were international business men with money to invest in his region, and that was true among other things. We do want to invest in these villages and in many ways.
I was relieved as we left the office and headed out to the car.
As we rolled around town for a while and visited local shops we were able to stop into a shop making garments with local flare. I wanted to buy a dress for my daughter, but they said they make these dresses custom to size. So, we didn’t have time to wait on that.
I was amazed at one point as we were driving around. This smaller city had many high rise buildings with apartments and open air stores/restaurants on the lower levels, similar to the larger city. However, you could tell that the people were not used to this, because they were still farming in every single spot of dirt that was available around these buildings. I found out that many of these folks had to make a decision to leave their villages in order to find jobs in the city.
I saw several small trucks and even makeshift flatbed mopeds with pigs and even cows on them coming into the city and directly to restaurants. They would be quickly dispatched for the customers coming in for lunch or dinner later in the day. They would simply wash off the sidewalk to clean off any remaining body fluids.
After driving around and getting the tour from Kevin, we then headed back to the office to rest before a dinner meeting with another group of local club members.
Group Hot Pot is on the menu.