Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 5 and 6 - April 30 and May 1, 2016

This weekend’s post is brought to you by: Andrew Kohler, Andrew Foster, and Mary Rutz.

Volcan Pacaya: We rose early Saturday Morning to hike Volcan Pacaya. When we reached the volcano we got a special of-course tour trekking over lava rocks to explore a cave. When we broke for lunch we roasted marshmallows and toasted sandwiches over hot lava. ¡Que rico! After lunch, we explored further to a hidden path to ski down the side of the volcano! 

Panoramic of Volcan Pacaya and the secret cave.

Foster "skiing" down the volcano side
Hiking across lava rocks to the cave.

 Coffee Tour: In the early afternoon on Saturday we had the opportunity to ride in what is referred to as a “chicken bus” with our tour guide (Hugo) and a few members of his staff to a local coffee farm located near Antigua. We were told by Hugo that an individual named Franklin Voorhes helped start direct coffee trade for local Guatemalan coffee farmers. He initially lent a small quantity of local coffee farmers a loan estimated to be about $10,000 each. The farmers in turn were able to later repay the loan with supplemental coffee grounds as interest to Franklin. The local family who owned the coffee crops we saw enjoyed telling us about coffee production. The family went through a quick overview of coffee production stages from picking, washing, fermentation, husking, drying, bean selection, grinding, and ultimately the end product (getting a cup of coffee). It’s very important to select the appropriate color coffee beans, beans which are not red or yellow (green) can ruin the taste of the coffee when roasted thus ruining the entire batch. Coffee beans that are roasted “dark” contain less caffeine compared to lighter coffee shades. The coffee family who lead our tour borrowed some coffee equipment from other direct coffee trade Guatemalan members. One piece of equipment that’s borrowed is a bike with a cement wheel. The seated bike contraption separates the coffee bean from its outer layer or husk. In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say the small black cup of coffee we got to try was nothing short of amazing at the end of the coffee tour. 

Tour of a local coffee farm in Antigua

Jennifer Cooke grinding coffee beans on a bike

Mayan Ruins: Sunday morning we travelled to explore the Mayan ruins of Iximche (“corn tree”). Our good friend Hugo Suarez from Expeditions Guatemala gave us a complete tour and history of the ruins. We saw old temples, plazas, sporting fields and even got to witness an ancient ceremony performed by a local shaman. 

Partially buried temple in the Mayan Ruins
Zip lining: In the afternoon, several DPT students traveled to one of the great wonders of the world: Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, to partake in the extreme adventure of zip lining. Lake Atitlan is surrounded by three volcanoes, making for beautiful views. After a brief overlook from the mountainside of Panajachel, tranquilized by its beauty we raced to the bottom to be fitted with our gear. Once locked and loaded we began ascending the mountain on foot, through the jungliest nature that calls Panajachel home. Spider monkeys and butterflies orchestrated our trail across the swinging bridges and past waterfalls until we reached the captivating opening of a life changing experience. We zipped, raced, laughed, and screamed; waterfalls on one side and the wondrous lake on the other. There were 8 runs in this zip line course, with the longest one averaging around 45 seconds. Once we reached the bottom we crossed a ropes course of swinging steps to finish the adventure completely. There was some time to spare so we walked one of the main streets in Panajachel looking at the markets and eating dinner at a local's favorite spot.

Zip ling crew "locked and loaded"

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