Saturday April 16
An early start to the day found us making our own breakfast as we needed to leave for our day of activities before the Chicken Bus runs to get Carmen to work. We made French toast and scrambled eggs and fresh fruit. Delicious!!
Mynor took us to Antigua to a tour company that then delivered us in two different directions:
Coffee Plantation Tour – Brian and Diane
Volcano Pacaya – Suzanne, Kelly, Doug, Tim, Juli, Dianne, Lauren, Cathy, Gabby, Charlotte, Louisa
Coffee Plantation Tour
Diane and Brian visited the Filadelphia Coffee Plantation. It is 600 acres, and is owed by 4th generation in the same family. Some interesting facts that we learned are:
• 152 beans to make 1 cup of coffee
• from picking to packaging is a 6 week process
• every plant is grafted by women only because they have a higher alkaline pH than men (grafting is 80% success rate for women compared to 60% success rate for men, who have a higher acidic pH)
• the lowest quality of beans are used for instant coffee
• beans are hand picked individually and sorted into 3 grades
• the medium sized beans produce the best coffee
• Harvest is from November to March
This plantation stopped selling to Starbucks three years ago because they found out Starbucks mixes the quality/grades of their beans because Starbucks lovers enjoy sweeter and fancier drinks than plain coffee and the quality of beans are not a priority.
We ended our tour with the best coffee in the entire world and we will never look at coffee the same way again.
After returning to Antigua we toured the market place to spend our Qs. We were delighted to connect with Cecii and Carlos who were our 2013 interpreters. We toured Cecii's family hotel in Antigua where they charge $35US per night. We surprised Carlos when we dropped in on his family store.
Volcano Pacaya Hike
Arrived mid morning to the volcano and were immediately surrounded by youngsters wanting to sell us walking sticks. In hind sight, THANK GOD we bought them. A very knowledgeable tour guide started us on our climb….. and climb…..and climb….and climb. The taxi service were following us closely behind in case they were required. ie horses for Cathy and Doug. Frequent rest stops were required not only because of the climb, but also due to the high altitude. From one vista point we could see a powerplant that was harvesting the earths heat to generate electricity – an Israeli Company who sells all of the energy to El Salvador…interesting? Because of the foggy conditions, and with the recommendation of our tour guide we went to the second crater. Our guide informed us that there was an eruption last night and we were currently at an orange alert level meaning it could erupt at any time. As we got into the lava filled crater, we could see 3 distinct lava flows, one from 2010, one from 2012 and one from 2013. Those of us that had made this climb back in 2010 were amazed how different it was this time as a result of the huge 2010 eruption. So in this crater, we were standing on more than 100 meters of volcanic rock. There were still active hot spots that when we lifted volcanic rocks out, they were still very hot and we roasted marshmallows in one of the crevices that was emitting extreme heat. We walked across the lava field to the “Lava Store”. A very unique store that National Geographic recognized it for its uniqueness. Local artisans carved shapes from coconut shells and filled with volcanic rock. We enjoyed our time there and the rest, and then our guide called us to start our hike straight up and out of the crater. Once out of the crater, the hike was somewhat easier as it was downhill albeit steep, most of the way down. Then we loaded ourselves back into the van (and most slept) and went to Antigua to go to the market and catch up with Diane and Brian.
We met up with Diane and Brian, enjoyed spending and haggling our Qs at the market, seeing all of their handmade crafts and handiwork. We navigated Antigua well considering we haven’t been in 3 years…and met up with Mynor at 5pm at Café Barista.
We arrived home from our adventures today to find a surprise Team Dinner waiting for us along with Alicia, Sergio and Sergio, Brenda and Linda. Carmen out did herself with BBQ chicken and a potato casserole. Linda led grace and we enjoyed a time of conversation, fellowship and recapping of the day. We also learned tonight at dinner that the six acre flower and vegetable farm complete with greenhouses is for sale directly beside the "Centre of Hope" school for $150,000US. What a deal for a new owner. Hugs and goodbyes are never easy, but the love in the room really said it all.
Tomorrow we have a long day of travel and won’t be arriving home until 12:06am Monday. So, we sign off the daily blogs with blessings to all who have followed and prayed and supported this last week of work. None of this would have been possible with out your love and support and the will of God.
The Greenbank Mission Team
Doug, Kelly, Suzanne, Cathy, Diane, Brian, Dianne, Lauren, Tim, Juli