109 Social Mission Trip – Day 3

We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll

I wake up to the sound of strong winds on day 3. The group makes its way to the jungle yoga palapa for an early morning yoga session. We are all a little sore from digging and picking in the dirt the day before, so flowing it out on our mats is necessary this morning. As we move through practice the winds pick up. The mightiest gust sweeps through as we lay in savasana clearing the energy for the new day ahead.

Photo by Soda/Lime

After breakfast we have a short break then are off to hear Vega Coffee co-founder, Rob Terenzi, speak about his journey to create a sustainable coffee farm here in Nicaragua. His enthusiasm for coffee and supporting the local community is apparent. He left his corporate job as a lawyer in Silicon Valley 2 years ago, to lead a life of purpose which included moving to Nicaragua and starting Vega Coffee company. Coffee production is abundant in Central America and contributes to it being the second biggest international commodity. You would think that local farmers would net a fairly good profit, however due to the economics of production, the majority of the profits are taken by the middle men in the supply chain process – exporters, importers, shippers, roasters, distributors, and grocers. So what this means is, when coffee is sold for $20 a pound in the US, the local farmers only receive about .70 per pound.

The goal of Vega Coffee is not only to produce great coffee but also to make sure that the majority of profits remain in the hands of the farmers. So with his business partner and wife, they came up with the radical idea of not only harvesting the beans on the farm but also roasting and processing the coffee locally in Estelí, Nicaragua. Not only does this allows them to cut out the costs of paying middle men, but allows the locals to receive additional job training further bolstering the local communities and their economies. As they explain on their site, it is a sustainable and efficient alternative to the current coffee market. The best part? As the farmers start to become more financially independent, they are putting the money back into their communities through education programs and also starting Eco-tourism on the farms. Building B & B’s on properties so visitors can come experience farm life and coffee production.  You can support them by purchasing your own coffee subscription at their site.

After a quick lunch the group heads back to town to continue digging, shoveling, and now also picking up trash from the local area and beaches. Picking up trash could be it’s own social mission trip. Trash is abundant. Not because people do not care, but because they do not have trash cans on every corner or even landfills to take the trash to. So many burn their garbage. The group divides and conquers the two project and the locals return to help. After 3 hours, we head back – sweaty, exhausted, but fulfilled.

The sun sets on day 3 with a vegetarian meal, watermelon-rum drinks, and a bonfire on the beach complete with toasted (err…burnt) marshmallows. Soothed by the sound of strong wings and ocean waves, I settle into my room and give thanks for the experience. I write with Van Morrison’s Sweet Thing playing in the background.

“And I will stroll the merry way
And jump the hedges first
And I will drink the clear
Clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats
And they’ll get high
On a bluer ocean
Against tomorrow’s sky”


With Kindness,


Read Day 4  here.

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