The chicken bus bumped to a stop in front of the Valhalla Macadamia Nut Farm and I got my first glimpse of the expat lifestyle for Emily and Lorenzo, an expat couple that have created an entire non-profit movement in the region toward sustainable farming. The farm is about 15 minutes outside Antigua and fully trades the jostling elbowing on Antigua’s brightly colored streets for a vast expanse of trees lining the curved drive that leads into the nut farm.
Walking down the dusty dirt path we dodge the low hanging branches and read over the signs that ask us to please leave all of the macadamia nuts on the ground. London backpacker Kat and I found the two line description of the macadamia farm in the Lonely Planet and decided it was worth the trip outside of town – a bit of adventure and escape from Antigua.
We were well rewarded for out trip outside of the city. The pace at the macadamia farm is subdued and as we wander the grounds Emily, an expat who has been running the macadamia farm for more than 30 years, scoops us out from between the macadamia trees and within minutes she’s plying us with various types of macadamia samples.
Macadamia and dark chocolate.
Cocoa covered macadamia nuts.
Macadamia nuts coated in cardamom flavored chocolate – my favorite.
Their Story and a Farm Tour
Emily and her American husband Lorenzo (he’s quite a character and will talk your ear off with good-natured cheesy jokes and his theories on the expat life in Guatemala) started the macadamia farm decades ago before it became fashionable to expat yourself in another country.
They’ve cultured some of the strongest and most disease resistant macadamia trees in the Americas and also run non-profit efforts to give macadamia trees to locals and help them create businesses and process and sell macadamia nuts.
The tour is short, sweet, and personally guided by Emily, so I was able to ask any of the questions that popped into my head about the process.
Then comes the best parts. Emily guides you into the corner of the farm’s small shop hut and Kat and I sunk back into reclining chairs. Within minutes we received our complimentary macadamia nut facial and a mini massage. It lasts a mere two minutes but the two Guatemalan women work a bit of magic in those two minutes, exfoliating your pours and then finishing it off with a dab of pure macadamia oil rubbed into your face.
Emily has me convinced as to the miracles of macadamia oil for keeping skin young – she’s over sixty but has the skin of a thirty year old. If you’re interested, a US-based woman ships this Guatemala macadamia oil throughout the US.
The Pancakes Alone are Worth the Trip
With freshened faces and a lot to think about we hunkered down at an outdoor table and prepared for some of their famous pancakes. The farm runs a small restaurant and we just couldn’t resist Emily’s sales pitch on the farm’s famous pancakes.
Two pancakes made with macadamia flour, smothered in the creamiest macadamia butter imaginable and topped with a dollop of blueberries from the blueberry farm they also own in own in a nearby region of Guatemala.
It was, in a word, fantastic. The macadamias are a subtle flavor but delicious.
And Emily and Lorenzo get to eat this every single day! Their farm is breezy, shady and relaxing and they both still wholly love their jobs and lives after thirty years of operating the small macadamia farm. Though I’m not saying I want to run a macadamia farm in Guatemala, it’s really fascinating to see how expats are able to make new lives in other countries that embrace completely alternative lifestyle choices than the standard nine-to-fivers and yet still find contentment.