OG & Western present…

Guatemala: Brewing Justice

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Operation Groundswell’s Brewing Justice program goes deep inside the original Banana Republic, where a lush fertile land conceals bitter fruit. We’ll travel from bustling markets of Guatemala’s capitals to small-holder farms in the western highlands while exploring how land and livelihoods go together. We’ll examine the effects of colonization and migration and see some of the creative ways Guatemalans are reforming, revendicating, and rebuilding. This program will delve deep into questions of place, peoplehood, and social justice while bridging the gap between Jewish and Guatemalan communities through shared, intimate learning experiences.

Fees + Community Contribution

$1,570 – $1,670 CAD + $100 CAD

January 26 – February 2, 2019
  • Break bread with friends over Shabbat dinner at Adat Israel, a progressive Jewish community located right in the heart of Guatemala City, with close ties to our local Toronto rabbi Elyse Goldstein.
  • Travel with friends from Holy Blossom and learn to grow fair trade coffee alongside the farmers of San Miguel Escobar.
  • Hike to one of the country’s iconic volcanos, soak in mineral hot springs, and wade into sacred lakes while exploring Guatemala’s natural beauty up close and personal.
  • Immerse yourself in Guatemalan history and culture while living with a community of revolutionary coffee farmers in Santa Anita.
  • Learn the traditional arts of natural dyes and back-strap weaving with the women of San Juan La Laguna, who continue to express their Mayan Tz’utujil culture through craft-based economies.

Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Location: Guatemala City, Antigua, San Miguel Escobar
Accommodations: Hotel Spring

After picking everyone up at La Aurora International Airport, we’ll settle into Hotel Spring before joining our friends at Adat Israel, a progressive Jewish community located right in the heart of Guatemala City, for a Shabbat service and dinner.

The following day, we’ll travel an hour to Guatemala’s former capital, Antigua! Here, amongst the cobblestone streets and colonial arcades, we’ll acclimatize to the sights, sounds, and smells of the region before joining our friends at De La Gente (“from the people”) for lunch. DLG is a sustainable agricultural cooperative based in San Miguel Escobar, on the slopes of Volcán Agua. After our meal we’ll stretch our legs, head up into the fields, and learn how to pick, process, and roast our own coffee from some of their team members like Filiberto and Timoteo. To cap off our time in Antigua, we’ll partake in more delicious food and create space for Havdalah.

The Guatemalan Dream
Location: Xela, Quetzaltenango
Accommodations: Lar Antigua

The next day, we’ll head north to the ladino and indigenous metropolis of Xela. There, we’ll join revolutionary-turned-reformer Willie at Café La Red Kat for a delicious meal and an insightful chat about the challenges facing small-scale farmers and migrants in a new socio-economic order. We’ll also connect with fair trade outfit Y’abal and scavenge the colourful markets in this middle-class city known for its vibrant culture and progressive politics!

For members of the group who want to stretch their legs a little more, we’ll lead an optional hike into the nearby hills and onto a mirador overlooking one Guatemala’s most iconic volcanos. We’ll then reunite with the rest of group at the Fuentes Georginas, where we’ll soak it all in while relaxing in therapeutic hot springs!

Coffee Revolutions
Location: Santa Anita, Quetzaltenango
Accommodations: Homestays

After a brief journey to the north-west, our group will arrive in the community of Santa Anita, home of APCASA, a coffee association founded by former civil war combatants. These soldiers-turned-farmers perceive coffee differently: not just as an exportable commodity, but also as a symbol of revolutionary solidarity. Staying in family homes, we’ll have the opportunity hear their stories and share our own while building friendships and deepening our understanding of the coffee revolution.

The following day, we may join the ranks of coffee farmers and take to the fields for a day harvesting ripe, red coffee fruit, or perhaps we’ll collaborate on the construction of the community’s new beneficio or mill. This is where the magic happens, and the community’s coffee is washed, de-pulped, fermented, dried, and sorted – all in preparation for the international market.

Disorientation & Departures
Location: Lago Atitlan
Accommodations: CCDA

We’ll conclude our adventure on the shores of Lago Atitlan with our friends at the Committee of Highland Farmers, or CCDA. These farmers and reformers use coffee, compost, and community agriculture in their continuing struggle for improved livelihoods and land rights. We’ll stay in the CCDA’s bungalows, learn about their ongoing initiatives, and explore some of the neighbouring communities.

We’ll also take a little trip over to San Juan La Laguna and visit Operation Groundswell’s Hub. Designed to be a physical embodiment of OG’s culture, philosophy, and mission, the small lakeside property hosts a variety of local personnel, partners, and projects in hopes of promoting experimentation, exchange, and collaboration. There, we’ll take a little tour and then kick back, relax, and reflect on our incredible journey.

Scroll below for more program details

What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


With OG, you live like the locals.
This is not a budget backpacker’s trip nor is it a five-star jet-setter’s cruise. We will be sleeping in clean, comfortable hotels that reflect our ethos of local and sustainability stewardship with a focus on social enterprise. We will have a mix of family and double occupancy rooms with both private and shared bathrooms as well as a short homestay with our friends in Santa Anita. This type of travel will allow us to immerse in the local culture but may sometimes mean living without the comforts to which we’re accustomed. Creepy crawlies may sometimes visit while hot showers can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! But wherever we are, it will feel like home in no time.

Meet Your Regional Director

After running programs on three continents in as many summers, Bobby returned to his OG roots in Guatemala to manage the Hub as Regional Director. Throughout his travels he has found himself standing on top of an active volcano in Ecuador, watching the sun set across the Salt Flats of Bolivia, and working barefoot in the rice paddies of Cambodia. But nothing tops the smell of the pine forests back home in New England. When he’s not brainstorming new projects and animals to bring to the Hub, you’ll probably find him doing handstands.

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