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
is emblazoned on this grill. Could this be Michael
Jordon's private bus?
about twenty-five cents (2Quetzales) we hop aboard one of
revamped school buses
and head on out to tiny Jocotenango.
Central Plaza and main church
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,
footsteps it has survived.
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
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.
burlap sack stamped with La Azotea coffee plantation
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
take the parchment off the beans they must go to a dry mill.
This process shortens the life of the bean, so it must
roasted right away. Roastings vary depending on the
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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
Coffee the way most of us see it.
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.
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.
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
Chocolate is also commonplace in Guatemala
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.
coffee is a perfect marriage!
number One Maya god, Max Simon
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
Offerings of cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco, alcohol
and food items are offered to him, and you will see
at every one of his altars.
Propane powered tortilla grill!
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.
wasn't long before a tuk-tuk came up beside us and we
decided to take it to San Felipe for 5Q's each.
typical Guatemalan restaurant with a niche for Mary the
Virgin, statues of saints on the windowsill and cobalt
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
Pepian de Pollo
True, we hardly recognized the food descriptions: There
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
Tacos of the Sacred Heart
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.
the bus with us!
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
105 Day Adventure to the city of Livingston.
Believe us, you have never seen anything like it!
more information, stories and photos of Guatemala,
Centro Cultural La Azotea in Jocotenango
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