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Down on the Farm

Somewhere Outside of Quetzaltenango, GuatemalaI’m not quite sure what to call the place I’m currently staying. The name on the front says “Hostal La Estacion,” however, it’s not really a hostel. If I had to put a name on it I would call it a boarding house. One of the regular boarders here is a [...]

Somewhere Outside of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

I’m not quite sure what to call the place I’m currently staying. The name on the front says “Hostal La Estacion,” however, it’s not really a hostel. If I had to put a name on it I would call it a boarding house. One of the regular boarders here is a doctor from Puerto Barrios named Saul who comes on a monthly basis to visit some of his patients in Xela. One of his friends, Angel, is the president of the Red Cross in Xela and is also the manager of a large farm about thirty minutes outside of town.


Yesterday Saul and I were invited to see his farm.  Saul was interested because there was a plant that grows on the farm that is used for a specific type of medicine that he uses. I have no idea what this plant is called, or what type of medicine it’s used to make but what I did know is that I had an open invitation to check out the Guatemalan countryside so I was interested.  The land surrounding Xela is absolutely beautiful so any chance I have to get out of town I will take.  The only drawback to visiting the farm was that I was woken up at 5:50 am and in the car by 6:00 am.  But views like the one below makes it all worth it.

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Countryside surrounding Xela.  This was taken from the road.

I’m not sure of the exact size of the farm but Saul said it was 110 hectares. I don’t know how bit a hectare is but a quick on-line conversion say’s 110 hectares is about 272 acres or approximately ½ square mile. Angel said the farm was bigger (it definitely seemed bigger than 1/2 square mile) but didn’t give a number. All I know was that once we arrived it was not the typical farm I was used to seeing in the U.S. with a barn and a flat field of crops. Instead it looked like this:

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Surrounding farmland

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
The farm and the coffee roasting building in the background.



Farmers Disputes in Guatemala are Serious:
When we arrived we pulled up to a large building where coffee beans were dried and roasted. Next to the building was a small fenced off field with three cows. It seemed a little strange to have three cows in a pen separate from the other cows that were grazing on a distant hill. I also thought it was a little strange that there were men armed with shotguns standing by the road as we drove in and also two other men armed with shotguns standing next to the cows. It seemed odd, but I’ve started to grow accustomed to seeing people walking around with large guns on a somewhat regular basis.

Twenty minutes later Angel drove up the farm road and began talking to a man on a horse. While Angel was talking to the man Saul and I took the opportunity to walk around in this field…

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Citrus fruit vines

…and began eating this fruit off of the vine.

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Some random citrus fruit that I picked off of the vine and started eating.

Saul told me the name of the fruit but I forgot what it was called. Whatever it was had a citrus taste that’s similar to grapefruit.

Angel was still talking to the man on the horse so I took the opportunity to ask Saul why a farm needs men armed with shotguns. His response:

“The three cows by the coffee roasting building belong to the man on the horse. The cows wandered onto the farm’s land. The workers refused to return the cows because this was not the first time his cows wandered onto the farm’s land. The man on the horse said that if they didn’t return the cows he would come back armed and take the cows by force. So, some of the workers are now armed. Angel is trying to resolve the dispute.” Interesting…

Shortly thereafter Angel returned to the car and we drove off to pick some macadamia nuts. About an hour later we returned to the coffee roasting building and I noticed the cows were gone. Dispute resolved.

Some other things grownharvested on the farm:

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Banana Tree

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Farm-raised Tilapia

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Chickens. The chickens aren’t packed together like the chicken farms I’ve been to in the US.

From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
Coffee Tree.  The coffee beans are the red and green things. 
Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Guatemala

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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