Finca Valhalla. By Steve Mullaney
If you have ever been bored by a tour guide then you need to get to Finca Valhalla, where the ever-entertaining Lawrence Gottschamer AKA Lorenzo AKA El Gringo Malcriado gives the most entertaining introduction to macadamia nuts and their wonders we have ever witnessed. Located just outside of Antigua in San Miguel Duenas, Lorenzo and his wife Emilia are the co-founders of Guatemala’s first macadamia plantation. As you learn about how macadamias help both the planet and your health you’ll be entertained by Lorenzo’s ribald sense of humor (“All I do is play with my nuts all day,” and so forth).
After hearing about the positive ecological impact that macadamia nuts have on the planet you’ll be invited to sample a number of macadamia-related delicacies ranging from chocolate-covered macadamia nuts (we highly recommend plopping down Q100 for a jumbo-sized bag) to macadamia oils to macadamia hand creams. The macadamia is said to have anti-aging and anti-wrinkle properties and for a small tip you can enjoy a complementary facial that my travel partner said made her skin feel ten years younger.
Finca Valhalla also boasts a café that prepares a wide array of breakfast and lunch foods. The star of the show are the macadamia pancakes (Q40) which are made with macadamia flour, macadamia butter and bits of the nut mixed into the batter. These pancakes are so good that they alone are worth the trip to Antigua. Pair this with a café con leche made with coffee from a nearby finca and you have yourself a winner of a meal.
Lorenzo has enough stories to fill up an afternoon if you care to listen, otherwise he’ll invite you to spend time reading and relaxing in the beautiful garden at Valhalla. The tour is free, but it’s recommended to buy something from the gift shop on your way out.
Getting there: From Antigua you can take any of the infrequent buses to Ciudad Vieja (Q3) followed by a 10-15 minute walk towards San Miguel Duenas. For a faster trip, a tuk-tuk will drop you off at the front door for between Q50-60 depending on your bargaining skills. Currently, there is no place to stay at Finca Valhalla, so your best bet is to stay in Antigua (we recommend the Black Cat Antigua) and hitch a ride out to the finca. More info is available at www.exvalhalla.net or 7831-5799.