Coffee Banana Volunteers
March 1993, Finca de San Cayetano
Moana and I were so happy doing Spanish lessons, enjoying the friendship of and social activities with other travellers and with our teachers, that we decided we would not venture out to explore the rest of Central America but spend our whole time in Guatemala. I stayed for 6 months. Moana stayed for over a year, eventually working as office manager for the Cervantes School. We took weeks off from our studies to travel and explore the region, but always came back to Antigua for our lessons and to see people with whom we had made friends.
Towards the end of my stay, Moana and I did one month’s volunteer work at a child care centre on a struggling coffee and banana plantation. It was owned and managed by indigenous Guatemalans under cruel opposition from other non-indigenous farmers. There had been raids where their equipment had been stolen or damaged beyond repair, and a level of fear that was evident in their need to make armed patrols of the grounds every night. The groups of foreign volunteers were there, in essence, to provide an extra level of security, for the many families that lived and worked on the plantation. Each day, we played games with the children, made things with them, taught basic literacy and had a lot of fun.