Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day Ten - Antigua, As Green as it Gets

Our Hotel in Antigua
Our room had shutters on the windows, so I was able to sleep in past my normal 5 or 6. I left my pajamas on, it is laundry day. I delivered my bag of dirty clothes to a spot around the corner. It was someone's house with a "laundry" sign out front. They weighed my bag at the counter and told me to come back at noon. I met the others at Fernando's coffee shop for breakfast and a review of our itinerary for the next 10 days.

This is another way to power a coffee depulper
Our first venture was to meet up with Andrew from As Green As It Gets. Farmer to Farmer has partnered with AGAIG the last few years to consolidate coffee shipping together, which means that together we are able to fill a shipping container to get coffee from Guatemala up to the warehouse in Minneapolis. Andrew took us on a tour of the AGAIG facilities here in Antigua, which includes a small community workshop, sewing facilities, offices and a residential dorm area for visiting volunteers. They run an amazing operation and have gained a great reputation both here and abroad for how they interact with and support the people who grow the coffee. They also have a variety of other projects that involve growing and selling food, sewing bags, marketing herbal teas, and offering volunteer service opportunities mainly to college and High School students from the US. It was an inspiring visit, and I look forward to working more closely with AGAIG in the future to help support our mutual goals.
As Green As it Gets, sewing operation

Antigua is a colorful city rich in history, which has attracted travelers and residents from around the world. Cobblestone streets are quite common, and they have left scattered ruins of old buildings destroyed by earthquakes, an interesting and charming connection to their past that I have not seen done deliberately in a city before. There are countless stores selling handcrafted textiles and souvenirs, many bookstores, plenty of great restaurants and a lively nightlife. This city has found a way to capitalize on their culture and history without sacrificing too much to the unrelenting demands of tourists.

View from our dinner spot above Antigua
Our group took a ride up a nearby mountain and enjoyed an amazing view of the sunset over the city. Some friends drove over from Guatemala City to meet us, and we enjoyed wonderful conversation and top notch wood fired pizza. We discussed politics, history, told personal stories and got to know each other better. We are all here to learn, listen, and find ways we can fit ourselves into this beautiful, complex world.

As it turns out, all of us love to play Euchre, and I don't want to tell you how late the ladies were up playing cards tonight - let's just say I left at midnight and they were still going strong.

1 comment:

  1. How are sales for these farmers? Coffee seems to be something that the world will drink however much is made, but there has to be a balance between the supply and demand. I have no idea what that is from the perspective of the farmer.