Ana Maria Ortega - Huehuetenango, Guatemala

An awning shaped entirely by the arms of trees and their April flowers shade visitors as they reach the last quarter mile stretch to Ana Maria Ortega's home, just a few miles from the busy downtown of Huehuetenango. To drive over the dirt path, welcomed by every square foot of flora overhead, is to know Ana Maria. Though the passage is corrugated and testing, the road possesses the congenial likeness of the woman each visitor meets at the paths end. Each budding flower, each intentionally shaped branch, suggests the path, like Ana Maria, continues to compose the fervor for hospitality and artistry every visitor senses. Ana Maria Ortega has attended to the coffee farms her father, Angel Ortega, implanted in 1950. Angel died when she was only 17. Years later, her pseudo father, a close family friend, was shot dead on the front porch of their finca, during the late years of Guatemala's vicious civil war. With each breath between describing the events of her life, Ana Maria Ortega penetrates the tender story within every listener. Her tone conveys the gratitude she feels for her present life. Its reverberation serves as a reminder of the labor, the diligence, the life; placed into her finca, her gold, her coffee. Copious drying patios, families of peacocks and turkeys, and seemingly fictitious plant life emulate the curator of the home. Ortega directs her finca, a few hours into Huehuetenango's jungle, much like her home; much like her intention for harmony with her company. To partake in communion of her coffee, is to take in the character of Ana Maria Ortega.