Today was one of my favorite days in Guatemala, largely because of the two women I shared it with. J and S are from Seattle and we met at Valhalla Macadamia Estacion. We ended up spending the entire time together, and it was lovely.
So let me tell you about macadamias. Guatemala exports most of its macadamias to Hawaii, so that can of deliciouness you devoured that labeled itself “product of Hawaii” was likely 25% Guatemalan.
Macadamias are great for the environment. When grown properly, using appropriate varities, organic methods aren’t difficult. The incredibly tough shell of the nut is carbon-rich, both a good carbon sink and slow-to-decompose paving material. The trees are not super-heavy feeders, so the don’t deplete the soil. Valhalla gives young trees to local families to build the economy and sustainable agriculture.
Valhalla uses all parts of the nut. Their drive and parking areas are paved with shell, the green pithy outer layer mulches the trees. Whole nuts are sold as grade A nuts, nicked nuts are used in chocolate or oil.
The leftover meal from pressing out the oil is used in flour, which make unbelievable pancakes. With organic blueberries, which they also grow.
Also, Valhalla makes all sorts of machines to sort, press, and otherwise process their nuts, which are better-tasting but also more variable in size than Hawaii’s.
I highly recommend a stop at Valhalla for those near Antigua. The tour is brief but interesting, the food is great, the people and dogs are nice, the place is lovely. And they offer free face massages with macadamia oil, which is, frankly, bliss.
After our nutty adventure (I couldn’t help it, that phrase has been trapped in me all day. Apologies.) we returned to Antigua and went somewhere really cool. Can you guess where?
I never would have even considered entering such a place myself, but their coffee is actually quite good here, and the courtyard was great. S and J were right to suggest it.
Then we walked up to Cerro de la Cruz, a stone cross that overlooks the city. S is a total BA, climbing a zillion steps to the cross four weeks after knee surgery.
Afterward we went to Nim P’ot to drool over the things we can’t fit into our carry-on bags, but which were tantilizingly inexpensive.
Then to Hector’s for a light meal of roasted tomatoes with gouda and balsamic vinegar (at least, that’s what I ate). Hector’s is a tiny but nice restaurant next to El Merced.
A lovely day with lovely women.