CHRIS BATTAGLIA

Thoughts

Guatemala: Tierra Verde

Day 1 - I arrive to Guatemala at noon on Monday. Jesse picks me up, we go to the US Embassy - not for me. His puppy, Newman, has turned his passport into dog mulch. The drive is 3.5 hours from Guatemala City, to Quetzaltenango (Xela), and we take in the traffic in Chimaltenango, diesel fumes, and our car winds relentlessly through mountain passes, finally into the Western Highlands.

Out of the country from Atlanta, I sat next to a Guatemalan man named Florencio Aguilar Garcia. He asked me if I might be able to fill out his Immigration forms, because he didn't speak any English, nor could he read nor write very well. After embarking on a conversation punctuated by my mediocre grasp of the language, Florencio tells me he is from Columbus, Ohio, and has lived there as a farmer for the past three years. Returning home to his country's capital, he has a big smile on his face, not missing those Ohio winters.

 Florencio and I.

Florencio and I.

 Bought a drone, unboxed the drone, a component wasn't working, brought it to Guatemala anyway, found this Hobby Store by the airport, went inside, plugged in to demonstrate problem to the technician, lights came on and there was no problem (of course).

Bought a drone, unboxed the drone, a component wasn't working, brought it to Guatemala anyway, found this Hobby Store by the airport, went inside, plugged in to demonstrate problem to the technician, lights came on and there was no problem (of course).

 Forget dirtying any dishes, heat your milk in the box. Added an interesting flavor element (smokey? cancer?) to the coffee.

Forget dirtying any dishes, heat your milk in the box. Added an interesting flavor element (smokey? cancer?) to the coffee.

 Jesse and Heidi, mid-afternoon snack. Chorizo, queso, papas, linguica, cafe con leche.

Jesse and Heidi, mid-afternoon snack. Chorizo, queso, papas, linguica, cafe con leche.

Day 2 - Shooting on the farms and riding in the back of pickup trucks again, it feels great.

 From the flatbed of a pickup truck, how I am accustomed to traveling with cameras in this country. Too many beautiful scenes and colors and humans not to enjoy unencumbered by windows.

From the flatbed of a pickup truck, how I am accustomed to traveling with cameras in this country. Too many beautiful scenes and colors and humans not to enjoy unencumbered by windows.

 Martin - whom Jesse interviewed - here, posed for a portrait among a plot of red onions at a local seed farm. He began learning how to work the land in high school, then became fast-tracked to learn organic farming practices. When returning to his community, he received negative response from friends and family, who couldn't grasp why he might want to slowly grow produce at the start, and why he would spend the extra time and money; he aims to change the minds of his community.

Martin - whom Jesse interviewed - here, posed for a portrait among a plot of red onions at a local seed farm. He began learning how to work the land in high school, then became fast-tracked to learn organic farming practices. When returning to his community, he received negative response from friends and family, who couldn't grasp why he might want to slowly grow produce at the start, and why he would spend the extra time and money; he aims to change the minds of his community.

 Cafecito at Florentine's home, on the seed farm. Third cafe of the day, and it is far more social and offered at everyone's home. I don't think this cup was very good, bearing little to no flavor, and sweetened a lot.

Cafecito at Florentine's home, on the seed farm. Third cafe of the day, and it is far more social and offered at everyone's home. I don't think this cup was very good, bearing little to no flavor, and sweetened a lot.

 Freshly transferred plants from seed trays, ready to be planted or moved to a local farmer's hands.

Freshly transferred plants from seed trays, ready to be planted or moved to a local farmer's hands.

 Always a basket of warm tortillas on the table. This is at Carolina's and Marco's home outside of Xela. Bowl of Caldo de Res on the right, not pictured are a fresh plate of veggies, picked from the garden and farm not an hour or two before sitting down to eat. Fresh juiced, organic pineapple juice accompanied this meal. Par for the course.

Always a basket of warm tortillas on the table. This is at Carolina's and Marco's home outside of Xela. Bowl of Caldo de Res on the right, not pictured are a fresh plate of veggies, picked from the garden and farm not an hour or two before sitting down to eat. Fresh juiced, organic pineapple juice accompanied this meal. Par for the course.

 Marco and Carolina, in their greenhouse. Before stepping into the greenhouse, you must step in a a sponge soaked in a natural concoction meant to kill any bacteria that might want to hang out in the greenhouse. All of the yellow things hanging are plates with more of this solution, aiming to remove bugs in a 100% natural way.

Marco and Carolina, in their greenhouse. Before stepping into the greenhouse, you must step in a a sponge soaked in a natural concoction meant to kill any bacteria that might want to hang out in the greenhouse. All of the yellow things hanging are plates with more of this solution, aiming to remove bugs in a 100% natural way.

 Jesse, exploring the greenhouse from which he sources the Tacorazon tomatoes.

Jesse, exploring the greenhouse from which he sources the Tacorazon tomatoes.

 Me and Marta, the wonderful woman who grows Jesse's tomatoes, pictured here in her greenhouse because she made me take a picture with her. She was so shy about her lack of teeth, and constantly smiled without opening her mouth, but it was clear when she let loose, her smile was infectious. Note her leopard print sombrero and (although hard to see) the comb wedged between her hair and her hat, over her left ear. What a character.

Me and Marta, the wonderful woman who grows Jesse's tomatoes, pictured here in her greenhouse because she made me take a picture with her. She was so shy about her lack of teeth, and constantly smiled without opening her mouth, but it was clear when she let loose, her smile was infectious. Note her leopard print sombrero and (although hard to see) the comb wedged between her hair and her hat, over her left ear. What a character.

 Sophie, Marco and Carolina's cute three year old daughter. Seen her playing in her front yard during the rain. 

Sophie, Marco and Carolina's cute three year old daughter. Seen her playing in her front yard during the rain. 

 Par for the course, here in Guatemala. Reason to keep coming back. Excited for the tierra verde.

Par for the course, here in Guatemala. Reason to keep coming back. Excited for the tierra verde.