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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

San Felipe & Jocotenango

Guatemala

(Pronounced: Hoh-koh-ten-AHN-goh, Gwah-te-MAH-lah)

An awesome coffee museum and authentic Guatemalan cuisine

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Currency Conversion Site

Both of these locations are small villages, so why bother going? We wanted to learn about mountain grown coffee and to experience genuine Guatemalan food!

Off on another day journey from the city of Antigua, we go to the central bus station at the open air market and catch a bus to Jocotenango. This little village is only about 10 square miles!

 

M. J. is emblazoned on this grill. Could this be Michael Jordon's private bus?

M. J. is emblazoned on this grill. Could this be Michael Jordon's private bus?

For about twenty-five cents (2Quetzales) we hop aboard one of Guatemala's finest revamped school buses and head on out to tiny Jocotenango.

 

Central Plaza and main church

Central Plaza and main church

This church was built in the early 1500's as were many churches in Guatemala. It's in remarkable condition when one considers how many seasons, wars, generations, ceremonies and footsteps it has survived.

That being said, the front steps are a bit worn so be careful not to roll your ankle coming out from the entrance!

 

Peaceful road to Centro Cultural La Azotea

Peaceful road to Centro Cultural La Azotea

We heard there was a cultural museum with a coffee tour just down this road. Horses on the right, and shaded coffee trees with their berries on the left. Meandering down the sunshine-mottled road, we were hoping to see some plantation workers processing coffee at the plantation.

 

A burlap sack stamped with La Azotea coffee plantation

A burlap sack stamped with La Azotea coffee plantation

As you may already know, coffee is a brewed beverage prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. Coffee is grown in over 70 countries around the world, and the unroasted green coffee bean is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world!

 

The five stages of the coffee bean

The five stages of the coffee bean

Harvesting and processing coffee is a labor intensive endeavor. In the center of this display you will see red coffee "cherries." This is how the coffee bean looks when it is growing on the tree. Mechanical harvesting of these coffee cherries is impractical for several reasons, so the picking is almost always done by hand.

The processing of the bean is more complex than most coffee drinkers would imagine. The ripest berries are run through a wet mill and undergo a natural fermentation process which removes the outer soft pulp. After being washed in 100% pure water, the beans are placed out in the natural sunlight to dry.

In these traditional fincas or plantations, the beans are continuously raked while drying in the sun. Once the rows of beans have been raked, the worker starts at the beginning again. Depending on the weather, the beans can sit in the sun from 5 to 12 days.

All of these days of work only brings you to the first stage of the greenish, parchment-covered bean that you see in the bottom of the photo!

 

This guy has no face! Maybe he needs to lay off the coffee for awhile...

This guy has no face! Maybe he needs to lay off the coffee for awhile...

Meticulously sun-dried, the beans are then put into 150 lb. bags and left to cool in a barn for about 2-4 days. These parchment-covered beans have about 12% humidity at this point and can last "a lifetime." After cooling, they are weighed again, put into 100 lb. sacks and dated.

To take the parchment off the beans they must go to a dry mill. This process shortens the life of the bean, so it must then be roasted right away. Roastings vary depending on the desired flavor.

The Adventurer's Guide to Guatemala

Donít go to Guatemala without this book! Take advantage of what we know. Click here

Black beans are often grown in between coffee trees

Black beans are often grown in between coffee trees

During the first few years of growing the coffee tree, other foodstuffs such as beans, corn and rice will be planted between the trees. This allows the owner of the plantation to utilize the soil for other cash crops while he waits for the coffee trees to mature and produce.

 

Coffee the way most of us see it.

Coffee the way most of us see it.

After picking, processing and roasting, the coffee beans are bagged and available for sale in the little shop at the museum. Free espressos are also available to taste the product before you buy.

 

Happy employees at the Coffee Museum

Happy employees at the Coffee Museum

Coffee has played a crucial role in human societies all throughout history. Possibly discovered in Ethiopia, coffee cultivation first expanded in the Arab world. From here, coffee then found its way to Italy, the rest of Europe, Indonesia and the Americas.

The drinking of coffee has been banished many times in history. The Ethiopian Church prohibited the secular population from enjoying the energizing effects of the brew, and in Turkey and certain cities of Europe, the drinking of coffee was associated with rebellious political activities.

 

Chocolate is also commonplace in Guatemala

Chocolate is also commonplace in Guatemala

The people of Central America have been cultivating the Cacao plant for at least 3,000 years. The bean is used both in a beverage and as a food.

Archaeologists have found evidence of cacao cultivation at sites dating back to 1400 BC with carvings of Maya enjoying the frothy bitter drink. Spanish conquerors took chocolate to Europe to the English coffee houses, to the Dutch who developed chocolate bars and to the Swiss and Belgian chocolatiers who have become famous for their exquisite creations.

Chocolate and coffee is a perfect marriage!

 

The number One Maya god, Max Simon

The number One Maya god, Max Simon

This museum also had sections on musical instruments as well as displays on the culture of the Maya. Here in the center of the photo you see Max Simon (pronounced: Mox Shee-MONE). While he may have a seemingly humorous appearance to us, Max Simon is taken quite seriously by the Maya. He is a bit of a trickster and is the Chief Obstruction Buster in the Maya religion. If you have a problem you pray to Max Simon and he will remove the obstacle.

Offerings of cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco, alcohol and food items are offered to him, and you will see these displays at every one of his altars.

 

Propane powered tortilla grill!

Propane powered tortilla grill!

After the comprehensive cultural museum and coffee tour and enjoying an espresso with a piece of local chocolate, we decided to head on to San Felipe. Since we initially decided to walk, we stumbled upon this propane powered tortilla grill. How modern! Tortillas are a staple in Central America, and maize is believed to be the food of the gods.

Notice the large avocados in the basket in the left of this photo. Generally one could purchase these avocados for about 3 to 4Q's each, about 40 cents.

It wasn't long before a tuk-tuk came up beside us and we decided to take it to San Felipe for 5Q's each.

 

A typical Guatemalan restaurant with a niche for Mary the Virgin, statues of saints on the windowsill and cobalt blue walls.

A typical Guatemalan restaurant with a niche for Mary the Virgin, statues of saints on the windowsill and cobalt blue walls.

Upon arrival in San Felipe we were approached by locals with menus in hand, telling us about their special Guatemalan cuisine. Apparently this is why the town exists, and the tourists from the capital city - capitalenos - come here simply for the experience of eating authentic Guatemalan food.

 

Pepian de Pollo

Pepian de Pollo

True, we hardly recognized the food descriptions: There was Revolcado, Piloyada, and Puyaso. We decided to order the Pepian de Pollo, which was delicious and very rich. In a pot roast style "gravy" a piece of chicken was placed in the center alongside a carrot and a chayote-type vegetable which they call wee-skee. Not bad for 38Q's per person.

Good thing we ordered when we did, as the place began to fill up.

 

Tacos of the Sacred Heart

Tacos of the Sacred Heart

This restaurant has their menu printed on the outside so you can think about what you want to order before you enter. For us, it was a mixture of the familiar names and the traditional Guatemalan offerings.

 

Ride the bus with us!

Ride the bus with us!

After a full day drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and experiencing the native Guatemalan cuisine, we head on back to Antigua on the local bus for 1.5Q's each. If you are spending some time in the international city of Antigua, why not take a few hours to enjoy the neighboring towns to give you some local flavor?

We continue our 105 Day Adventure to the city of Livingston. Believe us, you have never seen anything like it!

For more information, stories and photos of Guatemala, click here

Centro Cultural La Azotea in Jocotenango

www.centroazotea.com

M-F 8:30-5pm Sat 8:30-3pm, closed Sundays

Adults Q50, Students Q25

Free transport to the museum from Antigua from 9 am to 3 pm from the Parque Central, Casa de Nino, at the entrance of the Municipal building in Antigua and the Museo del Libro

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person Ė the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesnít want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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