Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala

Photo Paul canoeing on Lake Atitlan
By Paul Helgeson

Yesterday we arrived at beautiful Lake Atitlan after a six hour trip from Huehue that featured spectacular mountain scenery. We are staying at the Posada de Santiago. This morning the early risers took to the Pasadas canoes to joined the local fishermen in thier dugout canoes on the lake.

This afternoon we piled into the back of one of the Toyota pickups that are a favorite form of mass transit here in Guatemala. Our first stop was the new Hospitalito in Santiago - a beautiful new building that replaces the hospital destroyed some five year ago by mud slides. After another 40 minutes ride on mountain roads we arrived at the San Lucas Mission. We toured several San Lucas projects.
The first was a project where new housing is being built for people that lost their homes as a result of heavy rains (Agatha) in June of last year. Nearby is a building that will eventually house a womens center . Then we walked through San Lucas medical clinic. The tree nursery was impressive with several varieties of trees grown for refosrestatin of the mountainsides and shade for the coffee. The final project we saw was the coffee project. At five oclock, each day, the

delivering the coffee

growers start bringing the days harvest for processing.

The heavy bags of green coffee beans are carried up the mountainside to the new processing on the mens backs. The coffee is weighed, moved by water to a huller, then to fermenation vats. After a couple days the beans are laid out on drying floors. The whole process is extremely labor-intensive, but the San Lucas produces high-quality coffee. It was a great visit!

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