Saturday, June 23, 2012

Estanzuela Tour

This morning, I travelled with Luis to the small farms near Estanzuela.  He gave me a tour of his small cattle farm, which had about 40 steers.  He owns another larger cattle farm with his brother, with around 800 steers.  The technology on the cattle farm was very rustic, because there was no electricity and the farmers working there used an old-fashioned rope-pulley well to get water.  Luis already has one solar panel in place for lighting, and is considering getting more, potentially through The Full Belly Project.  The fields themselves are very nice, and the cattle graze on Monbasa, which is a large green plant from India that thrives in the Guatemalan climate.  I got to see some of the cattle up close, and I learned about the different cattle personalities (some are friendly and follow you around when you pet them, but most of them are quite timid and jump away or charge if you touch them). 

Luis petting one of the friendly cows
Right around Luis’ cattle farm, we stopped by some of the other farms in the area, where we saw fields with mango trees, corn, okra, and cantaloupe as well.  The corn fields were brand new from 4 months ago, when the city made a deal with the international mango companies to use their fields during the off-season from March to July, when the land normally sits idle.  For irrigation, most of the farms near Estanzuela utilized a small canal around the perimeter of their land, which they dammed up periodically to flood their fields with water.  Although I saw a large diversity of crops being planted, there were no active peanut fields, so any peanut plantations that we start in Estanzuela will be built almost from scratch.

After we saw the farms, Luis showed me some more parts of the town Estanzuela.  In particular, the cemetery was very interesting because it was full of colorful houses for each family, and it had a bright and cheery atmosphere.  When we were driving around the town, I took a short video while riding on the back of Luis’ motorcycle.  A lot of parts of the video are very shaky because the ride was a bit bumpy, but hopefully it can give you the general idea for what the town is like. 

Town of Chiquimula
For lunch, I went out with Luis and his family to a mall near Chiquimula, which is a large city about 1 hour away from Estanzuela.  The mall was very modern with McDonald’s, high-end stores, and a large pool with inflatable bubbles for kids to play in (I took a picture of Ariana playing in one of the bubbles for you to see what I mean).  After lunch, we drove through the town of Chiquimula, which was bustling with activity, and now I am back in Estanzuela resting a bit before dinner. 

I will probably go out again with Luis tonight, and tomorrow he told me that we might go to a river near Estanzuela with ice-cold mountain water.  Talk to you soon, goodbye from Estanzuela.