How a Ukrainian 20 worked as a house painter in the USA for years, bought a farm in Ecuador and now grows coffee
Igor Overtchenko left Ukraine two months before independence. In the USA, he founded his own business, and then left everything and moved to Ecuador to grow coffee. In an interview MC Today 55-year-old Lviv spoke about life in a Latin country, the magic of coffee and his hacienda. Next - from the first person.
Church Mice and US Business
I am from Lviv. I learned to be a physics teacher, worked in the specialty for a year and left for the USA in 1991 (I was 27 years old). We in Ukraine were then poor as church mice, and I went to look for a better share.
In the States, he first worked as a house painter. I wanted to return to teaching physics, but it turned out that I needed to study for two more years. And then - get even less than an artist. Of course, I refused.
At first he just worked as a house painter, and then he created his own business. We painted houses, worked with wood: for example, we changed old windows. In America then there were just good times, people began to invest in real estate, which should be repaired. Therefore, there was enough work and earnings.
In 2008, I decided to go to the mountains. I wanted to go to Patagonia (Argentina), but it turned out that I needed a visa there. I do not like to collect all these pieces of paper, so I went to Ecuador: there are mountains there too, but a visa is not needed. I immediately liked this country. Good climate, life is much cheaper. Five days later, I decided that it was mine.
Hacienda with four thousand trees and coffee
During the year, I came to Ecuador three more times, looking for housing. I arrived at a farm in the village of Santa Marta, here it is called "Finca" or "Hacienda", I saw these amazing landscapes and bought it. At that time, it was worth $ 70 thousand. In the United States, this would cost about a million. He earned money in America for the 21 year that he lived there.
At first I came only in the winter - seasonal business in the USA allowed. And in 2012 I moved completely.
Now I live in an ordinary village, not far from the capital. There are few people here - I drove and did not notice. The farm is called Finca Figaro.
I have 13 hectares on the side of a mountain. Altitude - 1450 meters. This area is called Cloud forest (humid tropical mountain evergreen forest. - Approx. Ed.) Together with volunteers and employees, we planted almost 4 thousands of trees here.
I have dogs, cats, parrots, ducks, hens. There is somewhere a hectare of bananas, even my dogs eat them. The fruits here are very good, especially papaya. I also grow carrots, cabbage, beets for myself.
The story is simple with coffee: my neighbor, a Colombian, began to plant coffee and made me interested in it. Coffee is a shady plant, so I just started planting it between the trees. Now I have about four thousand coffee trees and four varieties of coffee: katura, typical, tabe and pakamara.
Coffee is my main business. I also rent farm rooms: one costs $ 25 per night, and the whole house is $ 80-100. Sometimes tourists come, I can shelter them, show the area and earn money. Enough money to cover the cost of maintaining the farm.
How to collect coffee
I have an assistant - a local guy. The two of us collect coffee. I'm still young, but sometimes my back hurts, and he does more hard work.
The collection of coffee begins around the end of May and lasts until September. We do it manually. The process is quite painstaking: you need to be careful, choose only ripe berries, because even one immature one is like a fly in the ointment, which spoils a barrel of honey. Ripe coffee is the color of red wine.
On a special machine, separate the pulp from the grains, then dry them. If you exceed the required humidity level, the grains may become covered with moss.
The peel with pulp is also dried, they make a good-tasting tea. True, the majority here simply throws them into a compost pit and uses them as fertilizer. And I'm trying to sell and drink it myself.
How much is coffee
Grains come in different qualities. This is affected by land, care, climate. There is a special test for coffee. The maximum result is 100 points, but no one has received it yet. My result is 83 points. This means that the grain belongs to a special class - Specialty coffee.
I can calmly reach approximately 88 points if I adjust the collection methods and if the weather does not change radically. This will affect the price. Therefore, I try not to grow a lot of coffee, but to move in the direction of quality. This year, about 500 kilograms of coffee were harvested, but this is not enough. My neighbor, for example, has 30 of thousands of bushes, so he collected almost 2 tons of grains.
A kilogram of roasted coffee costs $ 12. If the coffee is of better quality, the price will rise to $ 20.
Ecuadorian coffee is not at all cheap. For comparison: a worker’s labor in Ethiopia costs 50 cents per day, in Colombia - $ 7, in Ecuador - $ 20.
I sell grain in several local shops and through friends. The first international buyers were Catherine and Vasily, who opened a cafe in the Dnieper.
Life in Ecuador
Here they love the word "maniac", that is, "tomorrow." To do some business with the locals, in my opinion, is very difficult. I'm used to in the States that everything is clear there. And here: "Well, they didn’t do it today, we’ll do it tomorrow." It seems to me that is why the country is suffering.
In terms of security, Ecuador is no different from other countries, if you do not walk with your camera over your shoulder at night. Although there are problems, for example, drug trafficking (the way in which drugs are illegally transported. - Approx. Ed.) But I do not see this somehow related to civilian life. No one walks down the street and shoots.
A big plus - I have been wearing a T-shirt for a whole year. No need to buy winter clothes or to heat the house. We have a temperate climate. There are only two seasons: in summer there is more sun and in winter rains.
For 10 gigabytes of Internet per month, I pay $ 30. I buy gas cylinders, one costs $ 2,5. I have enough for a month.
By the way, the currency here is the American dollar. It greatly simplifies life.
English is poorly understood here, everyone speaks Spanish. I was able to study the local somewhere in 3 of the year. There are Ukrainians here: those who export flowers from Ecuador, who work as the head teacher at a local school, and one family from Slavyansk even has a small hotel.
Do not be indifferent
I believe that we humans do a lot of things wrong. We use nature to our advantage, we destroy a lot. Therefore, over the past two years, we with employees and volunteers planted about four thousand trees.
I have a big plan for the future - to create a shelter for pets. In Ecuador, they are sterilized, they run around the street, fall under cars. People often have nothing to feed them, because they themselves have nothing to eat.
In general, I have a very simple religion: I woke up in the morning and do the best you can.
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