|The Hacienda San Antonio in Acul where we stayed for|
|The early morning mist burnt off by 9am|
All the arable land is farmed, even up very high and very steep. We were generally between 5, 000 and 8,000 feet. It was lovely and warm during the day and then got very cold at night (top 74 days and down to around 50 at night). We passed through Chichicastenango where the famous market is held. Although it wasn't their big day the town was packed with people and the streets had stalls and events instead of cars. We had a very hard time making our way through the city but it was so much fun watching the people.
The same thing happened in the next big town Santa Cruz de Quince. We got so confused we asked an ambulance driver (I thought he was a policeman) for directions and he got in his ambulance and escorted us out of town. Guatemalans are so helpful and friendly.
|Early morning view from our room down the valley|
|Looking to our right across the pastures|
But our welcome was cheery at the Hacienda. We met Maria, the manager, and Ugo, the owner. Ugo is the grandson of the Italian immigrant cheese maker who founded the Hacienda and the Queso Chancol business (www.quesochancol.com).
In 1932 Giuseppe Azzari Magini, an Italian immigrant who had been working in California, left the United States and headed to the beautiful Cuchumatanes mountains in Guatemala. He settled in the small village of Chancol, located in the community of Villa de Chiantla in the Department of Huehuetenango, then he moved to Acul located in the community of Nebaj in the Department of Santa Cruz del Quiche.
|We took a half day trail ride with our guide Pedro|
But our full day in Acul was great. We took a half day trail ride with a ranch hand Pedro and it was lovely. We're not experienced riders but the horses were very tame and we took a long break to walk for awhile. Nevertheless we were pretty sore afterwards! I did a watercolor in the afternoon of the view.
Our 2 breakfasts were a highlight. Maria served pancakes with homemade blueberry sauce and their own crema (like creme fraiche) - with scrambled eggs. Our lunch was steaks, rice and salad (tough steak) and dinner an elaborate chicken soup (a Guatemalan specialty) - chicken pieces, boiled potatoes served on the side of a big bowl of wonderful stock with green herbs and rice. You cut up everything and add to bowl. Yum!
|We went mostly on dirt roads up into the mountains behind|
|Many people were in the fields working|
More on our trip later!
|Every bit of tillable land is used or grazing land for the|
many cows and horses
|Familiar morning glories bloomed in the|
|Not being accomplished riders (and with wooden saddles|
and not long enough stirrups) we opted to walk part of the time.
|We passed one small village with narrow|
paths branching off the already narrow dirt
|Few people were in the village. Most were working in|
the fields or with the animals
|Most people do not like having their picture taken so I often|
quickly grab a shot.
|This young boy with a Santa Claus hat was sound asleep by|
the side of the road.
|The village graveyard is very well maintained and has a|
|The entrance to the Hacienda.|
|Another lovely view of their pastures|
|And now Heather on her horse|
|Farm buildings and in the distance their own chapel|
|We watched the milking and ate the great|
cheese and cream they make.
|Some of the many cows|
|Lots of roosters in their own cages (they had tons of|
|Our breakfast table just after we ate piles of pancakes with|
their homemade blueberry sauce and their own crema.
|Maria is the manager and took great care of|