Puerto Quetzal, Gautamala


The following day, number 8, we woke up in the Guatamala port of Quetzal.  There was a cruise dock across bay, but we had to tie up with the cargo ships.  It seems there is something wrong with the cruise dock that made it difficult to safely moor the Statendam for passenger debarkation.  I chose to shoot video and I will attempt to load a short video at a later date.  Waiting near the ship were about 20 buses, ready to take all of us to see the local points of interest.  We chose a coffee plantation near the city of Antigua.  Antigua is near Gautamala City and both cities have been wrecked several times by the severe earthquakes that occur from time to time.  Fortunately for us, the ground remained stable for the duration of our stay. 

Our guide gave us a detailed history of the region during the 1 hour trip to Antigua.  The road was in amazing good shape.  Four lanes with on/off ramps and no potholes.  She pointed out three active volcanoes in the area, one of which is in nearly constant eruption according to her.

Yep,on cue.  We climbed on one of the roofs nearby and Novia got her picture with the erupting mountain "Fuego" in the background.  Another of the nearby volcanoes had a soccer field at it’s summit!  The locals occasionally scale this huge mountain with a summit elevation of nearly 10,000 feet to get in a quick game.  This second volcano is dormant for the most part.  We learned later that the background of the second picture shows the area where the coffee beans are dried after coming in from the orchard.

I always thought coffee plants grew on hillsides, but these were on a level, irrigated field.  This brand, Cafe Chi Cua, is considered an "exclusive" type of specialty coffee and it is too expensive for the locals to normally buy.  Most is exported to Japan at an inflated price.  We paid $8 per lbs., a "medio kilo". 

http://fincachicua.com/home 

The website has a bunch of pictures and explanations that are probably much better than anything I could do.  I’ll stick with the pictures that showed areas that were of particular interest to Praxy and myself.

On the tree.


Raw, washed beans.

The antique roaster, which is hand operated and wood fueled.  The "skin remover", roaster, and grinder were well maintained antiques.  Of German origin, they were approximately 100 years old.

The "fruit remover".  I can’t remember the actual name of this machine.  The berries are put in the top and the flesh is removed leaving the seed that we know as a coffee bean.  This flesh is either fed to cattle or used for compost.  It has an electric motor attached to the old gear system that may have used animal power.

The grinder.  We visited about three weeks before first harvest, so we didn’t get to see any machines in action except the cash register.  They also grow peppers, green beans, and lettuce to supplement the coffee crop. 

Novia and I enjoyed a couple of cups of wonderful coffee and ended up buying three lbs. to take home.  There are a few local women in the background on the proch selling hand woven shawls.  All girls are expected to learn how to weave as soon as they are old enough to sit at a loom.  The quality is striking.

On to the jade factory.  Jade was discovered in the 1970’s and the business is booming.  We looked, but didn’t buy.  I don’t wear jewelry and Praxy doesn’t wear much either.  Prices were reasonable, but still it seem like a lot of money.

Digression:

The cruise director from our ship was always announcing over the PA system about all the diamond and emerald and jade and gold and etc. etc. etc jewelry we could buy during our cruise.  There must have been a lot of wealthy people on board that had nothing better to do than look at jewelry and try to "out buy" each other on the most expensive piece.  We saw a lot of lookers, but few big-time buyers.  If a person was on the cruise specifically looking for jewelry to buy, they had certainly come to the right place.  I suppose if I was wealthy…

Off to lunch, with the street vendors barking at our heels.  There are at least five of them visible in this photo.  Note the hand woven bags that hold the tourist trinkets.

Colorful setting and the food was very tasty.

A local taxi in front of the cathedral on the central square.

The taxis are required to have "catch sack" for the "exhaust".

I broke my sunglasses, so we missed out on taking many pictures past this point.  We looked in several shops and I finally found a pair that I liked.  It took a while to find them and we nearly missed the bus back to the ship.  Good thing we didn’t miss the bus, the cab fare from Antigua to the port was something in the neighborhood of $200 US.  Yowser!  Behind the Panama Canal, this was my favorite stop on the trip.  Seeing a coffee plantation was on my bucket list along with the canal.  Panama is next.

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About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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