Day 4: Subsistence farming and the tour of Antigua

Hey Guys! hope you enjoying the blog! We have a little bit of free time during the day before we go and meet the children entrepreneurs, so I’m going to try to fit in day 4.

So day four started out like all the other mornings. We woke up at 7 and walked next door to our neighbor Freddy’s for breakfast. In case I hadn’t talked about Freddy before, he is one of the farmers in the “As Green as it gets” co-op. After breakfast his brother Miguel met us and took us up to his fields to do some fieldwork. We spent the first couple hours pulling the weeds and foliage away from the coffee plants. He explained to us that this must be done for every coffee plant (for which there are thousands!) in order for the plant to get enough nutrients from the soil to produce its maximum yield of berries. This work was tough and “back-breaking” because we had to use small hand made hoes to pull the foliage away. The tools kept breaking and the job caused tons of dust to be brought up, so it’s safe to say no one loved what they were doing. It’s just crazy to think of the time they spend preparing the plants, because in 2 hours we probably finished a couple of hundred maybe. Miguel said that on a typical day when it was just him and his son working, it would take an entire day to do a couple of hundred (times that by the thousands that they have to do and yikes!)
Anyway after working the field we came back down to his house and started the bean sorting process. This is where you lay tons of the “green” beans on a table and pick out the good ones from the bad. There can be many reasons of why you have defect beans (i.e. bugs had eaten them, or they were misshaped, curled up, etc.) This process is very tedious and took us a couple hours to do an entire table. It’s just crazy to think that they do this every day, all day, and we were all worn out and tired of doing it half way through our table of beans. The respect you gain for these people is enormous, especially thinking of the fact that they usually do all of this for about 7 dollars a day (and that’s generous).

Earlier in the blog, I had messed up by telling you that we were staying in Antigua. We were actually staying in a very small local town right outside of it called San Miguel. So in the afternoon we walked to the edge of San Miguel and hopped on a chicken bus that took us into Antigua. For those of you who don’t know what chicken buses are, I’ll do a quick explanation. So basically at the end of a school bus’s life in the states, they are shipped down to third world countries. When these countries receive them, they “pimp” their ride out (the buses). In case you don’t know what that means it’s basically they paint their buses shiny colors and have very shiny rims, and they take these buses back and forth on the roads taking people to many different places.
Our guide Steven told us of a story of his first day in Guatemala, he arrived and took a chicken bus to his new organization. There was no room on the bus so he had to hold all of his bags, while holding on the to back ladder of the bus. He said it was a very interesting way to start his stay in a new country.
When we arrived in Antigua, we met another tour guide who gave us a tour of Antigua and its history. We went through beautiful cathedrals and many parks, but my favorite stop had to be the ruins of an old monastery. It was so tranquil and beautiful, it just made my want to stay and never leave.
After the tour we had some time to shop and run around the city before we headed back to San Miguel. When we arrived home we went out to eat at a local restaurant, where we met Franklin for the first time. Franklin is the director of As green as it gets. He is a man with long hair and great beard, and when he first arrived, none of us knew who he was, so he kind of started us when we asked if we could sit at our table. Franklin is a very knowledgeable man, who had roots in the Midwest, going to school in Iowa, and then traveling all over the world doing other non profit quests before he ended up here. He gave a very eye-opening talk on coffee production, which had basically shattered all of my beliefs on fair trade, but that’s something that we’ll have to save for another time. We are about to go meet the young entrepreneurs, and then have a game of “paddifood” in the afternoon. They say it’s like a mix of soccer and basketball, so it sounds very exciting. Tune in tomorrow night for my next blog! Hasta Luego!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Annette (Mom Larie)
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 15:48:57

    After all the work you have done, you deserve a little fun. Paddifood sounds like just the ticket and I can’t wait to hear more about it. May you each incoporate some of the beauty and lifestyle you’ve witnessed into your own.

    Mom Larie


  2. Cindy Nankee
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 03:49:38

    So exciting, this is life changing. You are all fine young people doing great things. Can’t wait to hear about fair trade. Love mom Nankee


  3. Margaret Gunther(Maddy's grandmother)
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 19:48:16

    Hi Maddy,
    I am so very proud of what you all are doing in Guatemala. I am glad you had the
    opportunity to take this trip. I wish I could do stuff like you are doing. This truly
    is a life changing experience for you. Can’t wait to hear all about it and see
    pictures you have taken.

    Nana(Maddy’s grandmother)


  4. Stan
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 03:39:47

    Love your account of the experience….and why Xzibit and West Coast Customs come to mind when you talked about the buses?



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