For Christmas 2015 we ported in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala and started our holiday with the Filadelfia Coffee Estate & Antigua tour. This began with a 90 minute ride by charter bus to the estate. Upon arrival the grandness of the estate was quickly understood. This was by far the largest and most advanced coffee estate that we will have visited on this cruise. We first began by taking a short walk to the Plantation fields. There we saw row after row of the coffee bean plant. Our guide gave an in-depth lecture on the coffee bean, showed us the grafting of the coffee bean plant and we each got an opportunity pick raw beans. Afterwards we made our way into the milling rooms, the drying patios and the bagging/production area. As we had just visited a coffee estate the day before it was a bit repetitive but everything here was on a much larger scale.
At the conclusion of the tour we headed to the patio area of the estate where the gift shop was also located. Here we sat on the patio and we’re treated to a steak lunch. As I sat on the veranda eating my lunch, enjoying dessert and drinking their amazing coffee, I was looking directly at Volcán de Agua Volcano which towers more than 11,500 ft and dominates the landscape. It was simply amazing.
Next we boarded the bus and headed to Antiqua. I found it interesting that Antigua charges a toll for buses to enter the city. We began our walking tour near the city center and quickly made our way to city hall to arrive at 12 noon. At first I didn’t know why, then a large barrage of firecrackers began exploding and continued on for upwards of 20 minutes. This was in keeping with a Christmas Day tradition in Antiqua and occurs only at exactly 12 noon on December 25th. Next we admired the Parque Central and its bustling tradespeople trying to sell us their wares. This was much like being in a Caribbean port and being chased or stalked by the vendors. Once we tore ourselves away from the chaos we headed up the street to the Antigua Arch where again a local tried to convince us that he owned the street and for a fee he would give us a tour.
As we moved through town, we visited La Merced Church and the Jade Factory and Museum. What was interesting about the tour was that the curator, Mary Lou Ridinger had been on the ship 2 days earlier telling us all about Jade. All in all we got some nice shots of the town and surrounding scenery and re-boarded the bus for the return trip to the ship.