I really wanted the kids to write about today’s visit to a large coffee farm, but I also wanted you to hear about it today, not next week (you might still read their summary of the coffee-making process next week.)
To sum it up: we learned all about coffee, all the way from seeds and gene manipulation, through harvesting, to different processes for drying the beans (this company generally exports green coffee beans.) Once again, I learned a ton.
One thing I learned had nothing at all to do with coffee production: I learned that it’s time my kids had a bit more Holocaust education.
How did I figure that one out? Well… we were going through the factory looking at different processes, as I said before. Finally, we got to the huge drying ovens. I’ll admit that I felt a little unpleasant jolt when our guide said, “Now we’ll head over to the ovens,” but I told myself to chill out and remember where we were—on a coffee tour in Costa Rica.
So we got to the huge ovens and all I could think was, These look a lot like the ones we saw at Auschwitz. Lovely thought, no?
It got worse before it got better.
K and R took one look at the oven and R said, “Wow! You could fit all six of us in there!” and then K said, “Sure, R… should I toss you in first?” My blood ran cold.
Mr. December reacted faster than I did, but said what I was thinking: “NO. Absolutely not. That is NOT a good joke. EVER.”
My anxiety was through the roof; which was a shame because I should have been enjoying how much my kids were loving this part of the tour: they were competing with each other to see who could carry the most logs to load into the oven. While that was happening, I went over to Mr. December and muttered, “My cultural trauma is showing.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” he murmured back. “I don’t think the kids understand why that wasn’t funny.”
I nodded. “Think it’s time for a bit more Holocaust education?”
Later on, Mr. December and I were mulling over this.
“They have no idea at all,” he said after a quick chat with K. “I can’t tell if that’s a good or bad thing. Is the idea of Holocaust education to make sure they have the same trauma response as we do?”
The rest of our afternoon was enjoyable—if you don’t count E’s tantrum about putting her hiking boots back on (“They’re too hot!”) We walked over to the coffee company’s huge farmhouse on a hill, where the covered back patio beckoned us with an elegantly set table. We were greeted with freezing cold towels—a relief after the tour out in the sunny fields and then inside a hot factory—and cold drinks. Predictably, N didn’t touch the food, but I quickly taught him to say, “Quiero pan, por favor” (“I want bread, please”) and he was happy enough with the results.
The children were getting silly at the table, so I told them to run around the garden. R ran off and came back, breathless, to tell K that she found a swingset (big news for two girls who swing for hours a day at home.) I jokingly pointed to a yellow shed and said to E, “Look! a little yellow house. It must be waiting for you!” Our tour organizer, Massiel, took E by the hand and suggested they go explore it together. As it turned out, I was kind of right: it was a playhouse complete with a front porch, play kitchen, and even play food. Through the window I could see E serving Massiel a plastic hamburger with the graciousness of an experienced hostess.
When we got back to our place, E begged me to play school with her and her stuffies; I obliged and did a couple of grammar lessons “for the stuffies.” You know, I really miss doing school. Even though there’s plenty of learning happening on this trip, I’m looking forward to some quieter weeks when we can just homeschool and swim.