Acul sits astride the bucolic Río Azul valley, at the end of a very rutted road. It's functional appearance, with stores and evangelical prayer halls along either side of a broad dirt street, speak to its relatively recent founding. It was established in 1983 as the first polo de desarrollo (pole of development) during the civil war. Considered 'strategic hamlets', these settlements were constructed to enable the army to keep inhabitants from having contact with the guerrillas.
These days Acul's main activities are ranching, weaving and loom building.
Just outside Acul is a pair of farms devoted to cheese making. They were started by two immigrant brothers, the Azzaris, cheese makers in their native Italian Alps who moved to Guatemala in the 1930s, perhaps choosing the Acul valley because of its alpine appearance. Older brother José gained renown as a prize wrestler before being killed in the ring.