After a short flight I am about to go through customs wondering if any hassles will arise. Of course not, in true casual central American style they barely even look at my documents as they wave me through.
I pick up my bags and start walking through the throngs of people waiting to pick up loved ones. I am outside of the airport till I see Edgar, phew, I was starting to think of other options. Over dinner Edgar tells me that tomorrow is business as he orders a bottle of vodka to compliment our Mexican food…
View of Guatemala from Edgars unit at 5am
Eep he was not joking when he said we´ve gotta get up early tomorrow! We pack his car and start the two and half hour drive east of Guatemala city towards Oriente in Oratario, Santa Rossa.
Edgars farm has been in his family now for a touch over 80 years. They grow tow varietals, Caturra and Catuahi, the farms is called El Silencio www.fincaelsilencio.com .
Farms Area = 440 Manzanas
Coffee is grown on 270 Manzanas
Altitude at highest point is 1305m
Fica population 218
Has a school and a certified nurse
Is wet processed
naturally dried on patio’s or on wooded driels
70% of water used is recycled
They breed Tilpa fish for the villagers
villagers to grow corn on land
There is a rough drive down to the farm house and after we un load the 4×4 we meet Arturro Portillo who is to escort us around the farm. I don´t really think much of this until he pulls his shot gun out and slings it over his shoulder. I ask Edgar, whats the gun for, to which he replies, “just in case”.
Arturro has worked and lived on the farm now for 24 years and is 2nd in charge of running it. He has 10 kids of which 8 are boys and are absolutely fanatical about soccer. I have never seen so many kids belonging to the one person, its amaizing to think about the logistics. he had his first kid at the age of 18 and has had one almost every year since, imagine the cost of having that many kids in a western country like the states or even Australia… I don’t wanna!
This farm is huge and steep so we use the 4×4 to get around, slowly.
Its not harvest time so the trees look void of everything other then their lush green leaves, its also at the end of the dry season so the country side is no where near as lush as the farm I farm I went to in Nicaragua. We did find some trees that were already starting to blossom, letting off such a sweet bouquet. I could of stopped and smelt the flowers for an age, it was fantastic.
We push on
Edgar is stopping to take photos of for his father of all la Poda (where they cut aging trees back down to their stumps so they can re grow and be plentiful). The track was starting to get steeper so a shift into low gear is required. The 4×4 was starting to get sloppy as the tires fill with mud from the heavy rains the night before. We corner and impossibly the road gets steeper and its now that we start to loose footing. The car start to loose ground and defeated Edgar decides to stop about a hundred meters down from the top, so we walk.
The walk is just what I felt like and we are accompanied along the way by giant blue tropical butterflies and a warm Guatemalan breeze. We get to the top and already we were dripping with sweat from the heat and the humidity. When the steep climb finally falls away to reveal the finca with its bowl like cradle, that seems like the lands is nurturing the homestead as if it were a new born. The homestead is a good 400m below in altitude and at least 4 kilometers away.
Above from top to bottom: 1)Just a nice view 2) the hut without zoom 3)with 3x zoom 4) with 11x zoom
I want to just sit here and soak it up, have the sun burn my skin and like it used to back in Oz , hear the silence talk to me and let the seasonally affected depression melt away! With the world at our feet Edgar and Arturro press on. They want to show me the planned runway that Arturro with no Engineering degree, has skillfully carved into the mountaintop.
It time turns to 11 and already I am exhausted so we decide to head back for a rest, siesta and some lunch. At about two o’clock we check out the rest of the farm so he can show me where they grow corn and Bamboo, of which they have big plans for, but would not go into detail. On the record that is…
When we return to the homestead where I am greeted by seven of Arturro’s boys on the patios till the sun goes down. I remember thinking how good it was to be outdoors and not worried about the weather and doing something that is almost like an universal language, and even better its for free!
That night we go back up to El Cielo this time Edgar defeats nature and gets the Toyota land cruiser up the mountain. Two guards, Edgar and myself light a fire and watch the stars grow accompanied by the rhythmic pulse of the glow bugs, till the rain comes. We are in radio contact with the guards below and for the fun of it we get them to fire of a couple of buck shots so we could hear the night fill with their roar.
After a quick dash down to the bottom, so we don’t get stuck up the top because of the rains. We settle down for the night, sitting on the porch drinking more vodka, to the tune of the frogs echoing calls through the night.
This is a great time to catch up on some writing and, oh yeah, and finally get to shoot of a couple rounds from Arturro’s gun. Fully loaded with buck 9’s the number being a reference to the amount of pellets in the cartridge. After which Edgar tells me to sleep tight tonight as we now have three armed guards surrounding the homestead, but don’t be surprised if a cock wakes you up in the morning… I go to sleep with one eye open hoping he is referring to the fighting roosters they breed on the farm.