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Antigua, Guatemala, Summer 2002

"We'll go, but we're not going to like it," we told Darleen. Our team of twenty college students had been in Antigua, Guatemala, for just over a week. We overwhelmed by our job of teaching English to elementary school students. We were sick from the changes in our diet. We were tired from the roosters that woke us at 4:00 a.m. every morning. We did not want to go tour a macadamia nut farm.

Picture of the path on a macadamia tree farm

Six of us climbed into a minivan and rode a couple miles outside of the city. Our driver missed the turn to the farm the first two times he passed it. When we finally came to a stop, nauseous from the drive, we steeled ourselves for a boring half hour looking at trees. We were completely unprepared for what the farm had in store for us.

"Macadamia trees grow without depleting the land, require little care, and produce a highly profitable nut that can be sold globally." We walked around the farm following our German host, spellbound by his enthusiasm. He and a group of six other young activists lived on this farm and grew macadamia trees with the native Guatemalans. They gave the trees to indigenous groups to provide them with a stable source of income. Macadamia nuts are used for everything from makeup to pancake mix.

As we drove back to the city we reflected. What had started as a cranky morning had turned into a day of learning, and a unique experience that few Americans get to experience.

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