Monday 10/21/13 - Day Six

This morning, we were all a little slow in getting up.  This trip is starting to wear all of us out a little,  Miles and Elma’s apartment is on the second floor towards the back of a home with a courtyard.  The front door to this home is a 8’ x 12’ double leaf steel gate.  In front of the gate is very narrow sidewalk and the cobblestone street. You would never know that there is a home behind the front wall except for the gate.  The gate opens to a driveway with a courtyard on one side adjoining the main house.  The apartment is towards the rear of the courtyard area. The courtyard is really nice.  There are several kinds of flowers and trees.  The little bit of grass in the courtyard is cut by hand.  The home and apartment is surrounded by other buildings on three sides.

The apartment is really nice with a living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms and one and one-half baths.  They have a gas stove and a small refrigerator.  There is no hot water tank.  The only hot water available is in the shower which has an electric shower head which warms the water as you take a shower.

MIles and Elma have a patio over the roof from the main house below.  This is where Elma has her washing machine. The clothes are dried on clothes lines at the far end of the patio.  Antigua is kind of in a bowl with mountains surrounding the town.  There are several volcanoes in the area. One volcano is still active which you can see from the patio.

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Antigua is a very historical city founded by the Spanish,  I think the whole town is on some type of historical register. Many of the buildings were built in the 1400 -1500’s.  All of the streets are made out of cobblestone.   There are many indigenous Mayans residing in Antigua.  At one time, Antigua was the capital of Guatemala but due to earthquakes in the 1700’s, the capital was moved to Guatemala City.  There are many sites that you can still see the damage to buildings and churches from the earthquakes.  Some of the buildings have been restored with unbelievable architecture.

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After breakfast, Miles, Cris and I headed to the stove manufacturer in north Antigua.  Elma stayed home to do some laundry. The mode of transportation was a “Chicken Bus”.  Chicken buses are used United States school buses.  The exterior of the bus is painted in a multitude of colors which makes a form of art rolling down the road.  Some are in better shape than others.  The bus we were on seemed to be fairly safe.  Thanks to the cobblestone streets, the buses cannot go very fast (built in speed control) which makes it a little safer.  The buses are packed with people.

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The operation to make the stoves is all out in the open air.  There are molds made out of fiberglass in which concrete (mixed by hand) is poured into the mold with rebar to make the oven.  After curing, the concrete oven is knocked out of the mold.  The wood table that surrounds the oven is made by hand.  They do outsource the steel plates for the top of the fireplace and the ceramic tile inserts.  What a simple and efficient  operation.

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Early in the afternoon, the four of us headed to the market.  The market is huge.  Lots and lots of vendors selling everything from furniture to fruits and vegetable. If you cannot find what you want in the market, it is probably not available in Antigua.  The market is a very interesting place and a great place to watch people (one of my favorite things to do).

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After an hour or so, we headed to a local coffee plantation close to Antigua.  What a trip.  We boarded a “Chicken Bus”.  This bus had a lot to be desired.  In order to start the bus, it had to be hot wired.  There were two batteries on the floor next to the driver. The coolant for the engine was a two gallon jug with hoses coming out of the top located up front next to the batteries.  I thought the steering wheel was going to come off the steering column.  Thankfully, it was s short trip to the coffee plantation.

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The coffee plantation was very nice and well kept.  It is about 120 acres in size. We were able to tour the operation of the plantation which was very interesting.  We learnt a lot about how coffee is harvested, dried, cleaned and roasted.  We met with one of the associates who was somewhat of a marketing director.  He and Cris spent some time looking at possibilities for future marketing opportunities for the Source for additional financial support MIles and Elma.  The trip to the plantation was very worthwhile.

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After the trip to the coffee plantation, we headed back to Antigua for dinner and some sight seeing.  After a long day we headed home.  Once home, I was able to complete the log from yesterday.  Somehow, my laptop is getting corrupted and I lost all of my Journal logs.  Thanks to Cris, I was able to use his laptop to finish up yesterdays journal.

Tomorrow we head to Guatemala City to see the Director of the Lutheran Hour in Guatemala.  I do not think we will be doing a lot of sightseeing in Guatemala City due to the high crime rates.

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