PERÚ – A high-altitude nation
Taking on Peru’s high altitudes to reach the coffee plantations was the hardest part! From 1600 to 1700 metres above sea level, with some crossings going up as high as 4300 m, travel was complicated due to trails and roads that were often unpaved. In an off-road vehicle, it can take an hour or more just to cover five miles! Road conditions are a big problem for small cooperatives, which generally use mules to transport coffee cherries from high-altitude plantations to the nearest beneficio (the location on the coffee farm where freshly-harvested coffee cherries are brought to start the first step in the process).
The people are generous and welcoming and, despite their rather modest homes, they welcome you with incredible dignity, always happy to share a meal with guests. In exchange, I taught them how to use a moka coffee pot, something they had never used before. I was in Cusco, at 3400 m above sea level. Reaching 2400 m to admire Machu Picchu was the biggest thrill of all. It was astonishing – it literally takes your breath away!