Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday in Guatemala

The day today started early with excitement for our “free-day” activity.  After a pancake breakfast we headed to Antigua to Filadelfia Coffee Plantation where the team split in two and one group went to experience the Guatemalan Canopy Tour and the other group to a history tour of the Coffee Plantation.

The zip line group travelled 20 minutes by truck to the top of the mountain (8000feet elevation), where we had a phenomenal view of two volcanoes – one active and one inactive.  It was a spectacular view!  The journey to the top of the mountain was filled with anticipation and nerves … Juli quickly earned the nickname “Pollo” (which means chicken) by all of the tour guides. 
We did 9 zip lines down the mountain, each one getting longer, and higher as we went.  The longest zip line was 1700feet…about 4 scream breaths long!  It was an incredible rush, with lots of laughs with the tour guides, and views that were out of this world! 
We were so concerned with safety on the zip line that we didn’t consider that the hike might be dangerous.  After Dianne did a tuck and roll down the path and took out a fencepost, we decided that we should “watch your step!”  Laughs all around, Dianne is okay, just limping around with a bummed ankle, knee, elbow, arm and hand.  No Problemo!

The Filadelphia Coffee Plantation was 600 acres, and owed 4th generation in the same family.  Some interesting facts that we learned are:
  • ·      152 beans to make 1 cup of coffee
  • ·      from picking to packaging is a 6 week process
  • ·      every plant is grafted by 3 women because they have a higher alkaline pH than men (grafting success rate is better for women)
  • ·      the lowest quality of beans are used for instant coffee
  • ·      beans are hand picked individually and sorted into 3 grades
  • ·      the medium sized beans produce the best coffee

We ended our tour with the best coffee in the entire world and we will never look at coffee the same way again.

We then travelled up another mountain to the Mountain Restraunt that overlooks Antigua and the beautiful panoramic volcano view.  We invited Carlos and Cecii (our interpreters) to join us for lunch.  We enjoyed traditional Guatemalan dishes, good laughs and great company.  It was an experience unto itself.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sightseeing Antigua, enjoying the markets, bartering, appreciating the arts and crafts of the locals.  It was quite a hustle and bustle of activity and we all appreciated to see a different way of life in Guatemala (other than what we have been seeing). 
We quickly learned that Suzanne and Brian could not be left alone in the market, as they had a hard time saying no…they quickly ran out of Quetzales.  At one point Suzanne had a riot around her as she was waving her last 3 Q’s and the women were jumping all over each other – she grabbed a “hand-woven” scarf  and had to duck and run!  Brian filled his backpack with goodies and then some!  Cecelia welcomed us to her home for a tour, and then took us to a barista where they roast their own coffee and make coffee flavored chocolate…here we all purchased coffee to bring home.  We also witnessed the Miss Guatemala Pageant and it was also “Our Lady of Aparecida” where there were bands and celebrations happening in the city streets.  We have yet to figure out what “Our Lady of Aparecida” actually is.

We came home to a wonderful dinner that Carmen prepared for us.  We are all exhausted and ready for bed – tomorrow is a BUSY day!  Stay tuned – and thanks for reading!

Juli Conard-Myers, Brian Jones 

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