on June 22, 2004
"Vista Nieve," by Melbourne R. Carriker is a lovely story about a remarkable naturalist and a daring coffee pioneer in the beautiful Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain region of Colombia. To this end, the story is told from an interesting perspective...because the naturalist is the author's father and the daring coffee pioneer is the author's grandfather.
Melbourne (Mel) Armstrong Carriker, Jr. is the world famous naturalist who between 1902 and 1962 collected some 80,000 birds and mammals (mostly birds). Moreover, Mel described more genera and species (approximately 919) of Mallophaga than any other entomologist to date. His work is celebrated at the Smithsonian, the Carnegie Museum, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and the Chicago Field Museum. However, it must be noted that bird lovers will be frustated with the author because he rarely takes the time to name any of the thousands of specimens found in Colombia.
Orlando Lincoln Flye, born on a farm in Winslow, central southern Maine in 1861 is the coffee pioneer. The Flye's had been in America early on...Orlando's maternal great-great-grandfather, Josiah Hayden, Sr., was a colonel in the American Revolutionary War. A dedicated student, Orlando received an outstanding education in electrical engineering...took the important position of general electrician with the Proctor and Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio...and in 1890 accepted an invitation from the Colombian Telephone & Telegraph Company in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Eventually, Orlando tired of the booming telephone business in Colombia and with his substantial savings turned to the romantic business of coffee-growing. However, it was not easy...Orlando suffered a number of setbacks and after years of costly trials learned that coffee plants required a milder, cooler, more moist climate at a higher altitude to prosper. Finally, in 1898 Orlando carves Hacienda Cincinnati out of the San Lorenzo range connected to Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. He works hard...becomes a success...and eventually formed the Cincinnati Coffee Company...then the powerful Santa Marta Coffee Company and in 1927 became a founding member of the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia.
This is a good book. Although the author is guilty of "purple prose" from time to time. The author also turns a blind eye to the labor problems of the infamous United Fruit Company, perhaps because his two sisters married company men? Still and all this is a great book for a vivid insight to early Colombia.