INTERVIEW: Maria Isabel Zamora Muñoz of Las Diosas ("The Goddesses")

In honor of Las Diosas (“The Goddesses”) co-op in Nicaragua, whose latest harvest we are freshly roasting and packaging into bags with a special artist-designed label by Wunderland Custom Tattoo in Gainesville, we sent interview questions to the women for them to pick one person to respond. Producer Maria Isabel Zamora Muñoz was happy to describe the intimate details of her world as a member of the Cooperativa COPEMUJER, community of Los LLanos, Pueblo Nuevo and Delegate of the Central Cooperativa Las Diosas R.L.

Sweetwater: What did you do today?

Isabel: Today, as always I do my routine, there is always something to do out in the country. For example, I woke up and did my meditation in bed, I went to the kitchen to light the fire, my daughter went out to mill corn, and I began to wash dishes and pails. I swept the kitchen, then I cooked breakfast and made my coffee. I made omelettes, I made rice for lunch, I collected water sufficient for two days because we have a water shortage, I bathed my little grandson, I fed him and he went out to play, then I washed clothes, took a bath, rested a while to gather energy. Then I went out to cut hibiscus flower, which I planted, and I hung it to dry. I took some of it for my own enjoyment and, the rest, I took to the Co-op to process and go to market.

What is a normal day like at Las Diosas?

For me, a normal day at the Las Diosas Cooperative is when we meet up to talk about how we are doing with the co-op’s strategic plan and to decide on the prices of the products that we are going to sell or tend to any problems related to coffee production.

What do you do to relax?

To relax, I exercise. I look for a place where I can be with myself. I raise my hands up, I stretch to relax, and when I feel fatigued or very anxious, I rest for five minutes. I close my eyes and I meditate-- this I did not start doing until recently. I have learned to take better care of myself.

How does everyone choose who they do business with at Las Diosas?

Before we were supported by the FEM in order to carry out the commercialization of our coffee. Now that we have grown and we are institutionalizing our governance system in Las Diosas, we meet with our clients, we analyze whether they suit us or not, we define prices. We decide this as an assembly and it is executed through our board of directors and the supervisory board. We have a manager and technical team who collaborate with us on information and procedures.

In what way do you embody the goddess archetype?

From my point of view I make it my own, because we come from a situation of abuse, we had no land, nor rights to express an opinion and make decisions. I also think of myself and all the organized women who come from the same situation of being marginalized and I’m outraged. That is also why I am in an organization where we can say that this business is ours, we are part of the co-op, that is where we collect our products and then transform them into finished products such as coffee, Jamaica Rose (hibiscus) and honey - the items that I produce.

What are some of your favorite personal / business successes?

My personal successes, to me, are to have taken my education to high school, to have learned to negotiate, with my partner and my family, the roles of caring, and to have learned to work the bio-intensive gardens, and to have a better diet and quality of life.

My favorite commercial success is being able to market my coffee at a fair price, also having improved my coffee plot with a plantation under development and innovating in the field of Jamaica Rose, to have a better life and diversification of my income.

I advance in a collective organization proposed together with the other women of my cooperative and the Central de Cooperativas Las Diosas.

How do you take your coffee?

To drink my coffee, I am aware that I harvested it myself, washed it, dried it and then roasted and ground it and then I keep it for 15 days. I like being sure that my coffee is 100% organic and that it will not harm me, my health, because it is chemical free. I have the habit of having a cup in the morning and another cup in the afternoon.

What are your favorite things about being part of Las Diosas?

That we form a nucleus as a family within the Cooperative, where we see each other with respect and address our own feelings, what we do and what we want to do, since everything is decided through the Assembly of Delegates.