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Hola from Guatemala!

Holy cow what an incredible last few days! Weve done so much it feels like weve been here for way longer than a few days. Now, where to start… there’s a lot to talk about so this will be a long one…

We left Oshkosh around 11:15pm on Friday night. Drove to O’Hare which we were able to reach by 2:30am. Hopped our 5:15am flight to Houston. Caught our next flight to Guatemala where we landed at 11:10am CA time! It was a shock how hot and humid it was. But it was so incredibly beautiful. Customs and all that fun stuff was a breeze… until we realized Sophie’s luggage never showed. Luckily they told us they’d be able to deliver it around 4pm.

We walked outside the doors and there in front of us were dozens and dozens of people all holding signs or looking for inbound loved ones behind a gate. It was loud and so many people that it was nearly overwhelming. After finding a man named Luis holding up a “OSHKOSH” sign, we were able to hit the road.

1948186_10152343600188126_90443813_n(Drive out of the terminal at the Guatemala airport)

We pulled out of the terminal to officially and finally set our eyes on Guatemala in person. Wow! Here we finally were! At this place we’ve been preparing for for months now. All around us were blue sky’s and green trees. There were bright colored buildings and the hustle and bustle of the Guatemala City traffic was intense! The smell of the city was that of fresh grass, summer haze and diesel fuel. The streets had a dusty dirtiness to them but it was an almost forgettable feature when compared to all the bright buildings with beautifully shaped bars over the windows. It was all so exciting! Once we were out of the city, we were able to see so much of Guatemala’s natural beauty as well as the smaller towns. We drove through Antigua  which was ancient and beautiful. Narrow streets of cobble stone in a city with such wonderful life and color. It was surrounded by mountains and valcanos. We then drove to the small side town of San Miguel Escobar which is where we arrived at As Green! On one side of the very narrow street is the As Green offices with the logo painted out front. Across the street was the house they put their service groups in. It’s big and gorgeous. I can’t even believe it!

10155461_10152343600363126_929976160_n(On the drive)

10013078_10152026642126918_803236409_n(The square in San Miguel Escobar)

Once settled into the house, which was absolutely stunning! Even has a rooftop balcony. Our hostess Jane showed us around the small town of San Miguel Escobar. I’ll post pictures of it. Later we went to dinner at one of the As Green farmers house. His name was Mercedes and spoke no Spanish! So we combined minds to communicate with him. It was fun and the food was incredible. Afterwords details get blurry. I’m pretty sure we were all in bed by 8.

1964926_739840162727820_987745615_n(From our rooftop)

1982283_10152343601228126_969090471_n(Handmade tortillas)


Day 2:
We woke up to the sunrise and our cook Amalia making breakfast. Delicious! Soon Jane came by to take us to Antigua for some sights of the area. Our van was late so we played a real intense round of Catchphrase. My team won obviously. We hit the city and it was gorgeous. There will be pictures to come. It had some ancient architecture as well as bright colored buildings and super cobblestone roads. It’s surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Oh! it’s just wonderful!

First we hiked up to this hill that over looked the city. There was a cross upon it which was all very beautiful.

1545712_10153974574105175_6481439_n(Overlooking Antigua)

Next we walked to see some Mayan ruins! SO COOL! so peaceful and incredible.

(Some of the ruins)

(Entrance to the ruins)

We ate lunch at a very American-ized cafe. However we all mostly still ate off the Guatemala menu. As Mike says, “When in Rome, do as the Guatemalans do!” we exchanged cash afterwords and went through the market for some souvenirs.

(Don’t worry, they were smoothies)

It was back to the house were we did an incredibly interesting coffee activity. We learned all about the coffee process then followed by the economics of coffee. We learned how sadly little these farmers make in the grand scheme of it all. A jar of instant coffee is 2.35, right? Well farmers only make 4 cents of that. Holy wow, thats terrible. Here at As Green As It Gets, they make sure their farmers make 100% of the profit.  It’s a really great program they have working here that really benefits those that are truly sincere to their work.
After all this learning we went to dinner at another farmers home. Having all these meals with farmers has allowed us to really get to know the great people that work so hard for quality crop. It’s really neat.
We arrived back at the house and had a rooftop pow-wow to discuss how everyhings going. We ended the night with such a delightful game of Cards Against Humanity.

(The results of the coffee activity)

Day 3:
Today’s the coffee day! We left the house at about 9am to begin our hike up the side of Volcan Agua. It was steep and rocky and slippery with dirt but after over an hour and a half we made it! we were on the side of a volcano over 6000ft above sea level. Whoa! We picked coffee for an hour which was a lot of fun. The winners of the most coffee picked were Amber, Daniel, Kari and myself. We were rewarded with As Green As It Gets water bottles! They look super cool!

(Hiking up Volcan Agua)

(Kari and Timoteo enjoying some avocado picked along the trail)

After lunch at Timoteo’s (the farmer) house he led us through the rest of the coffee process. Everything from depulping the beans from the cherries through a bicycle mechanism…
1908259_10152343604283126_1015035869_n(Daniel de-pulps)

…to the fermenting process, the drying process, the roasting process…
10172779_10152343604358126_213854914_n(Coffee bean roasting on an open fire…)

…and then of purse the grinding/brewing/consuming!
1922050_739841686061001_729642054_n(Carter grinding beans)

It was a great experience to see what all goes into something like coffee. We then got to by some o Timoteo’s coffee! We bought coffee from our coffee farmer. Too cool!

Afterwards we hosed off and a couple of us went exploring through the town for some snacks at little corner stores. Andy from As Green stopped by to give us a run down of what As Green does and why it’s different from other coffee places. He explained more in-depth about the co-op and how the workers are paid. It’s really great to see such a business do what they can to get these hard working individuals the income they deserve.

Dinner tonight was at Gregorio’s house! He also only spoke Spanish. As we walked back from dinner we noticed all of these shrines of Jesus outside of people’s homes were put up. He explained to us that it’s a Monday night ritual during lent where families of the particular church in town pray together to their shrines of  Jesus  that were accompanied by candles and purple flowers. It’s a really interesting and new thing to learn about in this culture.

970684_10152114524101464_1338389316_n(The shrines outside of many homes along our walk home)

Well that leads us to now! Wow that’s lot! It took me a http access wifi but now that Ive got it I hope to make these more frequent (nightly?) so they’re not so long! I’ll also be includin words from other folks on the team and possibly some pictures. If not now then for sure when we get back.
Tomorrow it’s off to do some construction!
Until then,
KSFM -Nikki