in an ironic twist the land slice that is guatemala once upon a time hosted the first political state in the americas – a sprawling cosmopolitan metropolis called el mirador – the epicenter center of a brilliantly organized ancient highway system with 26 satellite cities, the largest pyramid in history, and a sparkling civic galaxy. fast forward to the present day and we peer into one of the most unstable and war torn balls of land in either hemisphere. guatemala has been screwed, left and right, up and down, screwed by the spanish, screwed by the nimble giant called the united fruit company (read: chiquita), screwed by the c.i.a., then they started screwing each other in thirty years of bloody civil war – maybe the orgy of self interest and exploitation will cease – but in the middle of this tense land of staggering beauty, fiery volcanoes, dense jungles, there is some of the best, most redolent coffee in the world.
and up high on a hill, in the middle of a palatial mansion, the july torrents pelting the windows, one pot sat down to dinner with about 15 farmers, a few international brokers, a politician, and several farm hands. it was a comic night, theatrical and odd, but we did eat a stunning mayan stew called suban-ick, and eat soft mouthed tamales, and drink goblets full of lilting/dense local rum. and we did rip right into the side of what it means to grow coffee in a place like guatemala. and it was heated, arguments arose, and laughter broke out, and in the end there was a kind of gratitude snowlike on the ground – our gratitude, but also the gratitude of local attendees – they said “we never do this – we never sit down and really really talk about this infernal crop…”. so a small part of a nubile but growing international conversation began. and on september 16th we bring back our findings. we will cook the mayan stew. we will drink the coffee. we will drink the rum. we will see flickering images. and we will also converse.
a moral to this story: drink guatemalan coffee, maybe even drink lots of it, it is bright, and layered with fruit and chocolate, but know from where the coffee comes – it is a difficult land and not all the apples are made the same… - MH
our pics from the guatemala vita/one pot trip: