By Bi Mengying, Wang Xinping, People’s Daily
“This is President Xi visiting our coffee plantation. This is Mme. Peng having a sip of our coffee. This is President Xi having a casual talk with my family…”
In a rural house in the small town of Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica, the Zamoras were introducing a few delicately framed pictures on a cabinet in their living room to People’s Daily. For the Costa Rican family, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to their home nine years ago is still a fresh memory.
On June 3, 2013, Xi, on a state visit to Costa Rica, went to Santo Domingo together with his wife Peng Liyuan, where they were received by Mr. and Mrs. Zamora, who were in their seventies.
The Costa Rican couple introduced their 12-member family to Xi and Peng, and showcased their clean and tidy house from the living room to the bedrooms, and to the kitchen.
The Zamoras, who made a living by planting coffee, showed Xi and Peng around the coffee plantation behind their house.
The youngest son of Mr. Zamora Alberto introduced to People’s Daily a moment of Xi’s visit to the plantation that the Chinese President picked up and smelled a coffee flower, and said its appearance, color, shape and even fragrance were similar to those of the Chinese jasmine.
Coffee is everyday drink in Costa Rica, while in China jasmines are always made into tea drink. “At that moment, I deeply felt that Costa Rica and China share many similarities though they are geographically distant. President Xi’s comparison between coffee flower and jasmine symbolized the connection between the Costa Ricans and the Chinese,” said Alberto.
Mr. Zamora said many foreign state leaders visited his country, but he had never seen one like President Xi who specifically dropped by an ordinary rural family. “We were very excited to have guests like President Xi and his wife,” he noted.
He shared with People’s Daily a photo in which his family was sitting around the Chinese President, while Mme. Peng is holding his granddaughter. “President Xi was very easygoing. I felt as if we had known each other for a long time and he was even like a family member to me,” the Costa Rican said.
In a log cabin in the Zamoras’ backyard, Xi had a taste of the family’s homemade coffee and empanadas. Mr. Zamora said he hoped his coffee would one day reach Chinese consumers, and Xi assured him that China and Costa Rica had signed many agreements on farm produce trade, and more Costa Rican agricultural products would be exported to China.
Today, apart from coffee, many other premium Costa Rican commodities are being sold in the Chinese market, including dairy products, pineapples and banana.
Xi told the Zamoras that he had been doing farm work as a grass-root for many years, and when he later moved to the jobs in the counties, municipalities, provincial governments and the Central government, he frequently went back to the countryside to see the farmers and to know their basic requirements and real feelings. Mr. Zamora said his family was impressed and inspired by Xi’s pride over the farmer identity.
Alberto’s deepest impression about Xi was the Chinese President’s remarks that it is a very important task for China to do a good job for the rural areas, particularly to focus on the efforts to help the farmers go out of poverty and live a happy life.
Since Xi’s visit, Alberto has been particularly solicitous of the news about China’s poverty alleviation. The historic achievements made by China in poverty reduction inspired him very much.
“President Xi often visits schools and factories, and goes to the fields to learn about the real life of the people. I think that’s a leader expected by the people. From the news, I can see what he really cares about and the huge efforts he makes to alleviate poverty in his country,” Alberto told People’s Daily.
In a display cabinet in the Zamoras’ living room, there is a painting of the Great Wall, which is a precious gift to the family from Xi. The Zamoras also has a volume of the book Xi Jinping: The Governance of China. When Alberto showed People’s Daily a page in the book of Xi’s visit to his home, pride was all on his face. He said his family was called “The Chinese Family” by neighbors because of the Chinese President’s visit, and the visit has changed their life.
In June 2014, Alberto joined an agricultural training program hosted in China’s Anhui province. He finally came to the country that he had fascinated for so long. Now his family receives Chinese New Year greetings from the Chinese Embassy in Costa Rica every year, and embassy staff would visit the family in-person. A close bond between the family and China is thus forged.