It is such a joy to return to Guatemala every year (this is the third year for me) and having previously visited in November, then October, it was interesting to experience the different weather and scenery in September. As usual, the primary objective was to teach gardening activities, healthy eating and exercise to the Maya kids in the schools, but there was plenty of time to see the sights, shop and do many fun things! Day one, was mostly traveling, but we have to start somewhere!
We were ten in number ( Garden Club members, Master Gardeners, Nutritionists, and lovers of flowers and travel); despite very recent hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc., our flight from Houston to Guatemala City was smooth and even arrived before schedule!
We stay at a coffee farm in the Central Highlands near El Tejar, Chimaltenango (which I believe in the Kaqchikel Maya language means “Place of the Shields”.) While our suitcases were collected in a pick up truck and whisked away to the farm, we were whisked away to a delightful restaurant in Guatemala City called Los Cebollines. Delightful place, wonderful food and drinks.
Fortified by the food and drink, we set off on a scenic tour of the city before getting tangled up in traffic on Rt. 1, the Carretera Interamericana, stopping off at a grocery store for supplies
and finally turning off in El Tejar on the bumpy road to Finca Xejuyu, in Kaqchikel “at the foot of the mountain”. The best thing about “going back” is the welcoming smiles from those who live there – the cook and her helpers, the farm workers, and the children who remember you from previous visits. We selected and settled into our rooms, and soon it was time for supper. The food is delicious – neither heavy nor over-spicy (although I do like spicy) but the flavorings blend so well that “spicy” is not necessary. I’ll refer to some recipes later on as the time progresses!
Our schedule had changed a little so after dinner we started preparing for our first school session, which had been moved from Wednesday to tomorrow (Monday) morning. Some of us had only briefly met prior to travelling, so this was a great opportunity to get to know each other – finally after lots of snipping, taping, laughing and lots of note taking, we went off to our rooms to soak up the sounds of the night – frogs croaking, the occasional barking dog in the distance and the mandatory night rain on the roof, and a good night’s sleep!