Lord Of The Finca

One hour south of the sprawling asphalt jungle of Guatemala City, there is a dirt track turning off the Inter-Americana highway that snakes through the countryside to a place called Finca Santa Ines.

Here, at the top of a hill, is a large white house overlooking the farm. Outside is an anarchic green backdrop, at dawn draped in dense morning mist; at dusk the red glob of sun melts between purple steaming volcanoes Pacaya and Fuego. Residing inside, is the Ladino landowner, Eliezar Alvaro. Probably in his late forties, Eliezar is cagey about giving his exact age:

“I am old enough to know better.  But young enough to have a go,” he says.

He is slim, short and camp, of Italian descent, and well educated - having been sent to study in both Germany and the United States. As the child of a long line of international diplomats, he now runs a chocolate factory. Or more specifically, he makes the chocolate in hot chocolate. He also owns more houses than he has time to see.

Separated from his wife, though often visited by his two teenage sons, he lives alone, surrounded by the antique furniture of his late mother. The rooms have high ceilings and red carpets.   There are renaissance paintings and portraits of family members and favourite horses on the walls, and chandeliers hanging from above. Around the solid wooden tables are chairs painted gold with thick padded seats and high backs, and on one of the arms is a very miniature leather saddle, with stirrups, that is used as an ashtray.

“You think I like this shit?” Eliezar says, waving his cigarette around aloofly, “No man.  Is all my mother’s stuff. From her old house. I didn’t know where else to put it. Now have another drink my friend!”

The furnishings may not be to his taste, but the equestrian theme certainly is.  Eliezar is passionate about horses. He has thirteen of them.

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