Saturday, January 31, 2009

Welcome to the Jungle

Another beautiful saturday on the road. We left Xela around 9:00 and headed up into the mountains southwest of the city. Crested the ridge at about 10,000 feet and slid down into the town of San Martin Sacatepequez. Switchback after switchback our Mitsubushi minivan (diesel, 5 speed, piloted by the talented and knowledgeable Josh, from Monte Verde tours, who arrived here for a short visit nine years ago) carried nine of us down to about 4000 feet and the Santa Anita Finca. They're a cooperative of former guerillas from the civil war who produce organic coffee and bananas on a little more than 100 acres of steep hillside. The folds (skirt) of the mountain are difficult to cultivate and the labor is all done by hand.

First we had a presentation detailing the history of the Santa Anita Finca. How it came to be and how they produce and market their production. Next a tour through coffee bushes shaded by banana trees and a very strenuous hike down a trail of switchbacks to the jungle floor. After a brief rest at a pool beneath a waterfall it was an old guy killing climb back up to the farm community. The women of the cooperative served us a delicious lunch of ground beef patties mixed with chilis and onions prior to cooking, lovely fresh veggies, rice, fried potatoes, tasty juice, and a nice cup of coffee.

Their website has a wealth of information about their community and their history. I hope you´ll take a few minutes to look it over.

The first shot is San Martin, the very colorful area in the background is a cemetary. They're about 9500 feet above sea level and are known for their potato production. It's the dry season and the unirrigated plots lay fallow till May.

The flower near the bottom is a poinsetta, I believe.

The last shot is what was left of me after the hike.

You can click on all the photos in the blog for much larger files.

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