Sitting in a Starbucks I find myself writing college applications, essays and my ceramic reflection of this term. Here at this coffee place I feel a little nostalgic, but this kind of nostalgia is a little bit different. I approach the counter, and behind it, a lot of beautiful, latin girls are making coffee for the costumers. The counter looks the same, the shop smells the same, but the language in the big black boards is different, it’s written in Spanish. I am in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, sitting in a Starbucks drinking American coffee. This is strange and it feels wrong. I see a guy wearing a soccer shirt ( Bayern Munich fan) sitting across the room typing into his Mac. This is the first Mac I have seen in Bolivia ( the first one was in a store in La Paz). “Bienvenido a vivirla experiencia Starbucks”I read in the entrance. At that moment I realize that for most of the people in this roomit is their first time in a Starbucks. The coffee doesn’t seem different to the last one I tasted in my different, but strangely enough similar “experience” in the other Starbucks in the USA. I wonder what is going to be the effect of Starbucks here in Santa Cruz. Are they going to stay and grow? Or are they going to leave after a while like their compatriots of Mc’Donalds did in the late 90’s?
When I was little my family used to come to Santa Cruz every summer vacation. We stilled own the old house near downtown at that time . This house had a big mango tree in the middle of the house and all the rooms of the house were around the tree in a square. That mango tree was huge, and once when I was around 6 or 7 years old we collected around 400 mangoes in one day!. My cousin and I sold them at our front door all day long until most of the mangoes were gone. I also remember going to the market with my mom and aunts to get the groceries for the week. I remember hearing all the bargain and shouting,smelling the fresh cheese and the recently cut meat and papaya. After a whole day of shopping we would walk back to our old house with the tall mango tree. During that walk, my mom and aunt would buy a cup of coffee from the traditional coffee sellers that harvest the coffee beans in their backyards or sometimes they buy it from the collectors of the jungle. The smell of the Santa Cruz coffee is something magical, something unique. The price of one cup of that delicious traditional coffee was around 4 Bolivian Pesos ( less than $ 1) and the cup of coffee I am drinking right now is about 26 Bolivian Pesos. What a f*** happened Santa Cruz?
Now I start wondering and my mind takes me different directions. I don’t want to imagine what is going to happen in the future, but I am sure about one thing. I am certain that the first coffee that my son or daughter is going to try is not going to be Starbucks, it will be the same one I tasted for the same time, the same one my mom used to drink and the same one my grandparents used to drank. I only hope that by that time still be traditional coffee sellers.