Hello everyone! I successfully made it to Antigua Guatemala! Here’s a quick update on how the past few days have gone.
I flew into Guatemala on my last remaining FedEx standby tickets, and it all went without a hitch; I even got aisle seats for both flights I was on. It ended up being more difficult figuring out how to get from the airport in Guatemala City to Antigua, which is about 26 miles away, or 2 hour shuttle ride during traffic. After searching around online while waiting in Miami, I was able to find a shuttle that wouldn’t just drop me off in the middle of Antigua, but I was going to have no data between La Aurora Airport and the house I’ll be staying at, because my phone was still locked by AT&T, and they needed 48 hours to unlock the phone. Otherwise I could have just picked up a SIM card at the airport and be on my way. So for the past few days, I’ve only had internet access when I’ve been able to find WiFi.
For much of the weekend, the community I’m in, called the WiFi Tribe, have mostly been exploring Antigua and finding great places to eat and drink fantastic coffee. The early favorite is a rooftop cafe called Bella Vista, and it is spectacular! The view of mountainous landscape is breathtaking and the coffee is phenomenal! I’ll have to give a deeper analysis of the coffee later, as I’ve only been there once so far, but we got a Chemex of one of their local roasts (It was my first day and so I was too overwhelmed to try to ask what kind of coffee they were using), but whatever it was, it was one of the best cups I’ve had. It had these really deep earthy notes, but still had a nice clean finish. In addition, I ordered French Toast for breakfast, but I’m not sure what I got but it was no French Toast I ever had; it was more like cake than anything. It was this stack of thick bricks of bread that looked more like a Jenga set, and there was no syrup, but rather just a brown sugar drizzle. But there was no need for syrup, because bread was so moist and sweet already.
Speaking of coffee, I hit an unfortunate snag when I first got here in that my old trusty manual grinder broke on my first day here, and since my frugality goes out the window when it comes to coffee (and especially in coffee heaven of the mountainous region of Antigua), I just forked out $35 to buy a burr grinder here. My only rationale is that I’m going to need it in the near future especially since it appears that I’ll be putting on a small coffee class for my group here soon. We have something called “Skill Shares” where people teach the group new things, and after I ranted about the economics of coffee production during one of our Uber rides, it became apparent the only way to shut me up is say that I’ll just have to run a class about all this stuff. So now I’m on the hunt for local coffee roasters and find some more great coffee to experiment with for the Skill Share session.
The highlight for me this weekend was we did a quick little day hike up one of the hillsides that overlook the Antigua valley, and get a more prominent view of Volcan de Agua. The problem with this hike is all we had was a non-descriptive trail map, on a trail that had numerous forks that led to small farming huts and hillside farm fields, of which we accidentally ventured on. When the trail ended at a field along the hill and we were about to turn back, somebody inquired if the field was growing coffee, and sure enough it was! I walked to a few of these small coffee trees (they’re more like bushes, as they were only about 3-4 feet tall), and sure enough there were coffee cherries. This was the first time I’ve seen coffee cherries up close, and all I did was squeeze it a little bit and one of the coffee beans popped right out into my hand.
That’s it for now. My goal is to scope out a few coffee roasters, and start trying the coffee out back at the house, as I prepare for my Skill Share class.