We drove four hours north to Coban in the Alta Verapaz department. Coban used to be a German settlement until the US preassured Guatemala to expell them at the beggining of WWII. Before the Germans were "asked to leave," they had extremely succesfull coffee and tea plantations all over Coban. So, we went there to learn about the coffee and tea process. We stayed at the Chirrepec Tea Coop for five days with Q'Eqchi families.
The accomadations were pretty rustic. My room had no door, a bed, a wooden chair, and a wooden shelf. The house had four 10 x 10 rooms. The bare bulb in the middle of the house hanging from the corragated tin roof could be seen from every room. In the mornings I would wake up and take a bucket bath in the corner of the cement kitchen. The corner had a little hole for drainage and was "covered" by a doubled over nylon tarp. I thought the nylon tarp provided some sort of barrier between my naked body and my host mom smacking tortillas every morning; however, I quickly learned otherwise after my host mom started bathing while I was eating my bean and tortilla breakfast. Lets just say the next day I faced the other way.
I was one of the only one of the trainees with a matress, which I thought was extremely fortunate until I got flees. Out of the training group of 33, about 20 have fallen victim to "pulgas." Bummer. However, the experience at the Tea Coop was amazing and I wouldn't have traded it for a five day stint at the Ritz. It is one of the possible sites for an Ag. marketing volunteer, so we'll see what happens.
Besides the tea coop at Chirrepec (Q'Eqchi word for cave of stone), we visited the Asociacion Nacional de Cafe Demonstration plantation. We learned about the coffee plant and processing.
We also met with a womans waevings group in Carcha, which is one hour away from Coban. I gave a talk on steps to obtain new clients and contacts. Unfortunately, the waevings market is completely saturated and these groups often don't cover costs.
After 5 nights at the coop, we moved to a hostal in Coban with running water, comfy beds, and a tv with dvd's. So, Coban is an very cool place, and its a jumping off point for all of the sites up in the Peten region like Tikal.
In summary, I saw coffee and tea plantations, a mayan woman saw me naked, and I got flees.