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Tierras Altas: Sustainable Agriculture


Buenas from the Tierras Altas Session B participants! Our week kicked off with more traveling! The journey to Cerra Punta, Guadalupe began bright and early at five A.M. sharp and continued until about three in the afternoon. Upon arrival at AMIPILA, one of our partner agencies, we split up our group and met our host families. After our first successful night fully moved-in, we met up with our partner organizations to learn about our service activities for the next two weeks. We learned about how our partner agencies promote sustainable agriculture in Cerro Punta and how we will contribute to their efforts in the next two weeks.

On our first day of service, we worked with our main partner organization AMIPILA to fill bags of soil, seeds, and compost; lift many heavy sacks; make a soil/fertilizer base; and watch a power tiller, well, till powerfully. We also helped to beautify the grounds of Finca Dracula, a local botanical garden that helps preserve over 2,000 varieties of orchids, along with employing many Guadalupe locals. Guadalupe’s economy partially depends on tourism, and Finca Dracula provides an alternate attraction for those drawn to Guadalupe for the strawberries.


In addition to our work with AMIPILA, we helped with organic farming at GORACE Orgánicos, the only group of certified organic producers in Panama. We enjoyed a fulfilling and banter-filled morning with the friendly organization leaders.

On Wednesday, the group visited Boquete, a district of Chiriqui that is popular with foreign retirees. During our trip, we climbed (in a bus) more than 1600 meters above sea level to the Don Pepe Coffee Plantation, where our fantastic tour guide Carlos explained the entire growing-to-brewing process of café in meticulous detail. The volunteers also had a chance to taste all seven coffee varieties that Don Pepe grows, ranging from a typical Java to the most expensive coffee in the world, Geisha, which goes for about 1500 dollars a cup in certain parts of the world. To our coffee-drinking families: you may find a unique and worldly experience coming your way.


Here in Guadalupe, the strawberry capital of Panamá, we are staying well-fed and cared for by our host families. We’ve eaten strawberries, plantains, empanadas, nispero, and many regional delicacies ranging from chicheme; a corn beverage, to buñuelo; a yuca dumpling stuffed with pork. We eat breakfast and dinner with our host families and lunch with each other and the AMIGOS staff.

With our host families, we’ve had birthday parties and late-night trips to the community’s bakeries, sold milk, visited the mechanic, played Monopoly and soccer, had playdates at each other’s homes, and watched the births of chicks. Also, shoutout to the AMIGOS staff for continuing to take us through this captivating journey. We love y’all!


– The AMIGOS Tierras Altas, Session B Participants

Written by Joel and Samantha S., and we got by with a little help from our friends… (Eli G., Tessa D., and Ari A.)


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