Andes EcoTours had been operating for a little over a year, when we were contacted by a friend of the Quininí community via Facebook. He was very persistant in telling us we should pay a visit to the area, after which, it didn’t take long for us to realize the community’s potential. A collective of 10 coffee growing families had also just recently begun functioning as an organization. They called themselves APRENAT and they were the Association of Protectors of the Natural Resources of Quininí Mountain. They had dreams to preserve their natural & cultural heritage, to protect the neighboring forest reserve and to share the coffee growing process with visitors to the area.
Since that day, we have been working to support the Quininí coffee growers and their community-based tourism initiative, bringing visitors to the area, helping to develop their product offering and improve their brand. More recently, we have begun working with the newly developed Inheritors of the Mountain youth club, for which we organize educational programs and actitivites such as environmental art workshops, English classes and vacation camps.
Behind the Beans is the culmination of stories and images collected over a 2 year period, during which time I spent multiple days at the foothills of the Quininí Mountain. On each occasion I would arrive with the stresses of the city on the back of my mind, and leave with an almost inexplainable peace. The community has become like a second family to me. We have shared our lives over countless cups of tinto, delicious home-cooked meals and a few games of tejo.!! May this exhibit serve as a glimpse into the lives of the Quininí coffee growers. A glimpse at their smiles, their struggles and their hope for the future. For pictures taken by the youth, click here.