Coffee and laughter, both at the same time.

Trip Start Sep 02, 2010
Trip End Aug 17, 2011

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Heredia,
Friday, September 3, 2010

When we woke up this morning, we didn't have a clue what the day would hold. We hadn't planned anything specific, and worked the "Seize the day!" mentality. So, this hostel is very eco-friendly, which is awesome, but it means that they don't heat their water. They have a water heater thing on the shower head so the water is heated as it passes through. This is a good idea, but it doesn't work particularly well. The resulting shower was either nice and hot with almost non-existent water pressure, or a bit chilly with awesome water pressure. There was not much of a happy medium. 

Next, we had breakfast! The hostel provides a breakfast every morning, and you can eat until the food is gone. The pancakes were pretty good, but the pineapple, oh my, the PINEAPPLE!!! It was sooooo delicious! Fresh and sweet, it tasted like it was just pulled off the tree! I don't think I will be able to eat enough Costa Rican pineapple. Period. 

After learning we missed both busses to the places we wanted to visit, we decided to do a coffee tour. The hostel arranged the tour for us, including transportation and lunch. The driver wouldn't pick us up from the hostel, so we went to the Holiday Inn where we waited for the van to arrive. It was about this time that I started feeling very unhappy that I didn't try to make better plans in advance. But, the whole point of this trip is to have a good time, so if we can manage that then I won't feel too bad.

The drive to Cafe Britt was full of ridiculous traffic. I swear, everybody moves at the same time and hopes that you don't get in their way. Drivers were merging into oncoming traffic pretty regularly, and there was more than one occasion where I felt the need to shrink the van so we wouldn't be side swiped by a bus. But, Joe, our driver, was very good and we arrived in one piece. We were the first group picked up, and we stopped at two other hotels to pick up more tourists. There was a very nice man from Mexico, and two Ukrainian couples from Los Angeles who shared the van with us.

When we got to Cafe Britt, we paid for the tour, and were given a small cup of coffee. It was the most amazing coffee I've ever tasted! So smooth, so perfect... I am salivating just thinking about it again! *sigh* We had three main tour guides who were amazing. The tour felt more like an educational show. The guides were very knowledgeable and had tremendous energy that they shared with the group. One thing I learned is that coffee is actually a fruit! The coffee fruit is about the size of a cranberry, and loses 80% of its size in the coffee-bean making process, then it regains some size when the beans are roasted. When the beans are roasted, they pop like popcorn. Also, the coffee has different amounts of caffeine depending on what altitude the plant is at. The higher the altitude, the more caffeine.

By far the most entertaining part of the tour was the history of coffee. The coffee plant is originally from Africa, and the story is that there was an Ethiopian goat farmer who saw his goat jumping around after seeing him eat a specific type of berry off a plant, then the farmer tried the berry and couldn't sleep all night. Then coffee moved to the Middle East, on to India, then Turkey, the Balkans, and Spain. Then, it spread to Italy and on to the rest of the world. After the history lesson, they picked audience volunteers to be coffee connoisseurs. Then (following the story that began the tour that the two people were in a relationship) they held a wedding, and Adrienne was asked to be the Maid of Honor! :) All she had to do was say "Si padre." at the appropriate times, and afterwards, she got a coffee picker's hat! 

From there we were led to the gift shop, which is right next to the restaurant. We looked around for a few minutes, and decided that we were really freaking hungry, and had lunch. Lunch was a three course buffet. It was so yummy! I had mustard and relish dressing on my salad, which I wasn't sure I'd like, but it turned out to be the perfect thing to go along with garbanzo beans! The main course was a variety of vegetarian and meat dishes that we mixed and matched, and dessert was fruit and, of course, coffee! 

The best part of Cafe Britt was how friendly everyone was! Everyone wanted to know where we were from, and what brought us to Costa Rica. They're just *really* friendly, in the sincere sort of way. It's so refreshing coming from Chicago where people ignore each other most of the time.

After lunch we went back to the gift shop, dropped a few dollars, and went back to the van for our ride to San Jose. The ride back was in much less traffic, and more enjoyable. We had a nice conversation with the driver Roberto (we think we're remembering his name right). The best was trying to explain that Chicago was not a country... :) After we got back to the hostel, we relaxed for a while, which was nice because it was raining so we didn't feel guilty about not being outside.

After the rain stopped, we went for a walk. We were rather brave. We don't speak the language, we didn't have a map, and we didn't know where we were going! We had a nice 35 minute stroll and didn't get lost! Adrienne couldn't believe I was comfortable walking around without a phrase book, and I didn't have a good answer. I just felt like going with the flow. We saw some very pretty trees, heard a stream burbling, saw some stray dogs, and some colorful graffiti. We could have gone right to dinner while we were out, but I decided I wasn't hungry yet, and as soon as we were back for 10 minutes, I was starving. 

When we eventually left the hostel, we went to a restaurant two blocks from the hostel called Spoon. It is quite the experience to order off the menu when you don't know what you are ordering. Adrienne managed to say, "No como carne." And the waiter pointed out a few salads and spinach lasagna that she could eat. Then, he pointed to something else that said "lasagna" at the end, and she was like, "Si" and pointed. The food arrived and it definitely resembled lasagna, but not spinach. She took a few tentative bites and determined there was no meat in it, but man it tasted weird for spinach lasagna. She made me try some, and I said I thought it was eggplant. Sure enough, when we get the bill, it was eggplant lasagna. Ewwww....... Fortunately the side of fries she ordered were enough to hold her over. My turkey and avocado wrap was just fine, until I discovered the sprouts. After I forked them out of my wrap, it was great! :)

We walked back to the hostel in the rain, and now we are sitting in the lounge-y area relaxing! :) I think a game of Tabletop Scrabble may be in order soon. 

It was a fantastic and fun day! We already have plans for tomorrow, but I'm going to make you wait to see what they are! :)
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Betty on

Your bravery in walking around without a guide will do you in good stead on your next adventure! Yay you!

Love the pictures. How did I know there would be pictures of food?

And Adrienne's hat is awesome! She will have to hang it next to her hat from Thailand!

Cafe Britt on

Thank you for you wonderful chronicle. We are glad you enjoyed your visit, you're very welcome to come again any time!

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