Tales from Tecpán – by Amy Yeung in Guatemala

13 year old Mynor is a barista in Guatemala.

It’s been almost one week here in Tecpán.  One week of emotional highs and lows.  Tecpán is a small village town about 90 minutes from Guatemala City.  It has a population of about 10,000 people, most of whom are indigenous.  I am realizing how lucky we all have it in North America.  Simple things like hot water showers and clean tap water are things that we all take for granted.  Here, we are limited to 5 minute showers, otherwise we will, literally, run out of water in the house.  We also have a choice of taking a hot shower with low water pressure or a cold shower with high water pressure.  And in the event of a bad rainstorm, we may have no water, and then it will be all about the bucket showers!

The tap water is also not potable.  We have a special dish washing procedure to ensure that dishes are not contaminated as well as two large “buckets” to filter the tap water.  On my first night, I had a minor panic attack when I ran my toothbrush under the tap water, and then proceeded to brush my teeth with it!  Luckily, I have not had any stomach problems yet!

However, despite the seemingly difficult living conditions, one thing that I notice amongst many locals in Guatemala is their sense of love and happiness.  Everyone has been very warm and welcoming to us gringos.  I am fortunate to be given this opportunity to be humbled, to realize that happiness comes from within and not from our surroundings.

There is also one café in Tecpán that serves a pretty good cappuccino!  Mynor, the 13 year old barista, has dreams of competing in a barista competition!  It was funny when I went to the café, because apparently I had already gotten the reputation of being the “chichi barista from Ethical Bean Coffee in Canada”!  However, with my lack of Spanish, Mynor and I just had many blank stares and embarrassing laughs as I tried to help him with the espresso machine.  I am eager to learn Spanish so that I can communicate with Mynor and help him with his shots and latte art!   I will definitely be back!


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