Guatemala Coffee Regions (a Coffee Trek during Election Time!)

Guatemala for Fun and ? a March 2011 Travelogue

About the title …I lied. It was not that fun, and definitely not for profit. We were in Guatemala as the NY coffee market hit a 34 year high (profit for the exporters and market speculators, very hard on the coffee buyers!) as well as an odd climate with elections coming up soon. Lider, just plain odd. Add to this the problems in the north with narco traffic and gangs, and traveling without local guidance in a rental car, and in hindsight the trip seems a tad unwise. 3 people were shot dead at a restaurant near Huehue at noon the day before we arrived. Another coffee buyer was held up at gunpoint. It’s the wild wild west here. Still, there are a lot of hard-working coffee producers tied to their land and their crop, which is worth more this year than for many previous. That is creating more instability though. With the high coffee cherry prices, trees are being picked at night time by theives, coffee stolen from patios and warehouses. And all the candidates promise Order and Security. I would find it hard not to be cynical if I heard that rhetoric and then faced such instability from day-to-day. Then again, it’s hard to be an out-of-towner and really know the situation. I hope next year, things are better in rural Guatemala. In contrast to Huehue, Antigua was the same as ever, a beautiful bubble-world amidst the chaos of the rest of the countryside March 2011 -Tom