Daytripper is XelaWho’s regular monthly series on day trips within easy reach of Xela. This month’s article is called: Finca Santa Anita
by Travis Harvey
A short ride on the Xelajú chicken bus line to Colomba reveals a luscious changing landscape, a welcome thickening of the air and views of dozens of coffee fincas that line the pacific slope. Such enterprises make Guatemala the worlds 8th largest producer of coffee, but where does all the money go? Certainly not into the hands of hardworking campesinos that generally live in average to appalling conditions, earning around US$3 a day toiling in pesticide- and fertilizer-contaminated grounds whilst owners reap the profits of the world’s caffeine addiction.
Some post peace accord communities provide exceptions to this rule, among them Santa Anita La Unión, an ex-guerilla community growing organic coffee destined for the fair trade market.
Disembarking at Colomba raised a few local eyebrows, but standing out as gringos had us quickly directed to a pickup passing the community. Having called ahead, we arrived to be welcomed into a family home, where we downed some much-needed calories for the walking tour. We set out quickly before the rains set in and were struck by the botanical fecundity of Santa Anita. Our guide schooled us on all things organic, including how to make pesticide from fermented chichicaste, garlic and chili, the true nature of banana plants and many other campesino secrets.
After refreshing ourselves at the waterfall, we toured the processing plant and tostaduría, then ended with a cup of the finished product. Later we met with a community member who explained why he joined the movement, the community’s philosophy and the general situation of the coffee trade in Guatemala.
Dinner back in the family home assured our exhaustion, so we set to bed. The morning brought us sunrise over Vulcan Santiaguito and a hearty breakfast before heading home. Quite a weekend.
Day tours to Santa Anita are run through Café Conciencia (5047-2238) or you can call Andrea in Santa Anita on 5381-2416 and make your own way from the Minerva terminal. Volunteers are always welcome to contribute to the community (and receive discount rates) with their own skills or work in coffee cultivation. For more info, check www.santaanitafinca.com.