It took a trip all the way to Guatemala to realize that Guatemalans don’t even drink coffee. Well, Nescafe Instant doesn’t count as coffee in our minds. But it really is shocking that the country ranked 2nd in high-grade coffee production globally barely consumes the product itself. Such is the essence of the Guatemalan paradox: a coffee producer that doesn’t drink coffee, a natural landscape being pillaged by foreign mining companies for profit, and a predominantly indigenous population governed by a wealthy elite of white European ancestry.
Nestled in Central America, Guatemala has one of the most interesting, yet tragic histories. Home to the Mayan civilization, invaded by the Spanish and eventually ruled by successive dictatorships propped up by the United Fruit Company, Guatemala has had its fair share of political strife. A 30-year civil war helped create “liberation theology” but left many scars that remain to this day. In Guatemala, you will learn that being called “gringo” isn’t usually a bad thing, that eating fried chicken is a national obsession, that reggaeton is the greatest genre of music ever created, and that the term “chicken bus” doesn’t necessarily involve chickens but will involve far too many people in old school buses.
To travel to Guatemala is to challenge yourself physically and mentally – by climbing mountains and volcanoes and by meeting farmers who see the coffee and mining industries as the cause for their poverty. It is shocking, empowering, exciting, and challenging all in one beautiful country.