Bainbridge coffee aficionados savored the first shipment of Ometepe coffee that Pegasus roasted for the Association. In late 1991, Asha Esterberg and David Mitchell returned to negotiate the purchase of some of the ’91 crop, then being picked. In the course of the negotiations, the Northerners learned a stark lesson in Nicaraguan economic reality: it was not possible to determine the price of labor because wages based on hours worked meant nothing – people arrived when it got light and worked until the work was done. And “profit,” although appearing in Asha’s Spanish-English dictionary, was not a term the socios knew, not a concept they could even imagine.
The coffee was grown by a cooperative and bought cooperatively: The money raised to buy the 25,000 pounds came from $100 loans by Sister Islands Association members. Each creditor was promised a pound of coffee as interest after the coffee was sold on Bainbridge.
1992 was also a year of hard work for the people of San Pedro ,who began construction of a gravity-fed water system that would pipe clean waters off the upper reaches of the Maderas volcano to the community. Ex-pat water engineer Scott Renfro and his assistants Mario Diaz and Leonel Chavez provided engineering and supervision. Bainbridge supplied money for materials from coffee-sales profits, and the families of San Pedro hauled tons of sand, cement and re-bar up the volcano and dug a mile of trenches in rocky soil.