The incredible story of Juan Valdez and his mustache
OK friends, many of you have noticed that a guy with a big bushy brown mustache has been following me around on World Tour. When people have asked me who it is, I’ve told them it’s Jon and he’s just trying to look more Mexican or that he did it for the Movember men’s health campaign but I thought it was time to share the real (and incredible) story behind it. Grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and get ready to go on a journey…
The wind howled and roared like a majestic lion waking up from a nap. Tropical storm “Trudy” had arrived and trapped us inside our palapa style cabana overlooking the raging waters of Playa Zipolite. It was the end of October 2014. “The rainy season is so late this year!” said just about everyone as they greeted each other on the street, drenched in their sandals and tank tops. “Better late than never” they replied. The water supply to the town had been cut off the week before. Maybe now they will start pumping it again. Maybe soon we can take showers. Maybe soon we won’t have to keep the yellow mellow (if you know what I mean).
But as the water flowed from the clouds, it did not flow from the tap. We were trapped by the water, but with none to drink. Parched, we decided to venture out into the downpour. The cats screeched and the dogs barked almost as loudly as the rain. And we walked. The only ones in town with umbrellas and raincoats, we walked. We stopped at our friend, Lindsey and Edgar’s house.
“Hay agua aqui?” Is there water here?
“No lo siento amigos. Pero, hay agua en el Sur” No I’m sorry friends. But there is water in the south.
And so we walked further south. Looking like the saddest souls on earth, a Chivera pulled over and asked if we wanted a lift. We thanked the driver and sat in the back of the truck, elated to be under a roof.
“A donde van?” A man under a wool pancho asked. Where are you going?
“Sur” We replied. South.
“Ahh si. Agua. Hay un hombre en el Sur con agua magica” There is a man in the south with magic water. “Se llama Juan”. They call him Juan.
And so we road South in search of this Juan. What seemed like days later, the Chivera dropped us off at the beginning of a jungle. “No puedo pasar” I cannot go further.
And so we walked through the jungle. A sign said “Darien Gap. Muy Peligroso”. Very dangerous. With no choice, we walked.
After escaping a jaguar and a guerrilla terrorist group, we arrived finally in a new country with colorful markets and smiling people. Greeting us was a sign that read “Bienvenidos a Colombia”. Colombia!? The clouds parted and the sun peaked through.
“Disculpa, usted sabe donde esta Juan?” Do you know where Juan is? We asked a woman weaving a basket in the market.
“Si el esta alla” Yes he is there, the woman said pointing to a grove of coffee plants.
We walked within the stalks for miles and miles, only stopping to smell the ripe beans. We began to see dancing cups of coffee everywhere. We were very thirsty. Then finally we came upon a donkey. But no Juan. Suddenly the donkey stomped its hooves and pointed it’s head towards a trail of footsteps in the dirt.
“Juan camina alla pero el va a regresar pronto” He walked there but will return soon. Did the Donkey just speak to us?
Jon followed the footsteps and I stayed with the Donkey in case this Juan returned. The sun was setting and the light in the sky began to fade. The dryness in my throat was getting unbearable. I called out for Jon. But no one responded.
“Jon no esta aqui.” Jon is not here, said the Donkey.
“Donde esta?” But the donkey just stomped its hooves.
Was I delirious right now? I must be. The sun was almost down. I was alone with a talking donkey. I had no idea where Jon was. My throat was so parched I could barely breathe. I looked up at the sky and saw splashes of blue red purple, sun, stars, moons, and cups of coffee whirling all around me. My eyes began to roll back. Darkness.
My eyes pealed open and light came bursting in. It was a clear day. The beach sparkled under the high sun. I was back in the cabana. Was I dead? Was it a dream? Where was Jon? I called out to him. My throat still parched.
“Jon no esta aqui” said a man with a big brown bushy mustache and a wool poncho as he entered the cabana with two steaming hot cups of coffee.
“Quien eres?” Who are you?
“Me llamo Juan. Juan Valdez”
His eyes looked like my Jon. But he couldn’t be. He had a mustache. He served me a cup of coffee. The hot magical water flowed through my body. Every finger and bone felt invigorated. My throat felt like silk.
He then smiled, his mustache seeming to reach ear to ear and said, “I pick the coffee beans by hand. I have the richest coffee in the world.” I nodded in agreement. It certainly was the richest coffee in the world. Too bad I’m more of a tea person.
And thus, since early November, Juan Valdez, his mustache and I have been traveling throughout Mexico, and will soon venture to Guatemala. Here is a little video (which you may have seen before if you are at least our age) about Juan Valdez and his coffee: