My first cup of Java

Trip Start Aug 26, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Did I already mention how excited I am to be enjoying the tropical jungle part of my adventure with Carolina?? Since I am actually going to be living in Costa Rica for a few months, having her here to start exploring the good and the bad, has been amazing.

We woke up bright and early and were on a bus to a coffee farm by 6:50am! Melvin, our cheerful tour guide, welcomed us, along with several tourists from Puebla, Mexico, a young couple from Israel, Francisco and Carla, an Ecuadorian couple living in Massachusetts and Hank, the lone traveler from Atlanta. The lush green drive to the coffee farm was a welcome break from the hideousness of San Jose. In case you can't tell, we were not a fan of the Capital city. I am not a coffee drinker. I believe I had my only cup of Java when I was 6 or 7 years old and absolutely hated it. At that young age, I proudly pronounced myself, "not a coffee drinker." Instead,  I dabbled in chocolate milk and later in life, tea.  Carolina, on the other hand, is a Barista (coffee expert) and avid cappuccino maker. Even with our varied perspectives, we were both delighted with the aroma of coffee beans as soon as we pulled into the farm. We were met with a wonderful local breakfast of Gallo Pinto, typical dish to the country. All around us, people enjoyed the locally grown coffee available and marbled at its deliciousness. I couldn't bear to be on a coffee farm and not try it's crown jewel, "so I can blog about it," I told myself. Well, I am here to tell you that I tried the organic blend that Caro recommended and ended a 23 year strike against this sinfully delicious beverage! Maybe all this time it's not coffee that I didn't like, it was just BAD coffee that was the problem!! This local organic coffee, which sells at $11 a bag, was just fine!!

After breakfast, we enjoyed a relaxing tour on the farm, including a demonstration of how coffee is grown and roasted. We learned that the coffee flavor is determined by the length of time that the beans are roasted. Did you know that the only difference between the light European blend and the dark Espresso is a matter of 2 minutes in roasting time (European blend is roasted for 15 minutes and Express for 17). We also learned that the quality of the coffee bean is determined by its weight. It's tested in a water barrel and those that float to the top are tossed away or sold to McDonald's and those that sink are the premium beans that you enjoy and are willing to pay $11 dollars for. We were briefly tempted to buy a bag of the organic treasure, until we realized that the price was more than half of what we were paying for our San Jose hotel room!! More to come on that budget disaster later.

Another interesting, "Did you know" is that coffee originated in Ethiopia and coffee legend suggests that an Arabian shepherd, named Kaldi, was the first to explore coffee's euphoric qualities.


You will be delighted to know that Carolina is a stickler for accuracy. These next few entries have been meticulously reviewed and edited by her detailed eye. As an example, if Caro weren't with me, this section would have been erroneously titled "Staring at the eye of the volcano!!!" In addition, there should be less typos going forward. Another perk of her demand for accuracy!!

The hike to the volcano was pleasant, though I must admit that after two weeks of being home, I found the easy ascent a bit challenging! Of course, I blamed it on the altitude of 2,500 meters, that's always a nice scapegoat! The lesson learned is that I need to live in areas that force me to be active.

                          We learned from Melvin, that the volcano is only visible 20% of the times he brings visitors there, so we felt extremely blessed to be able to clearly see the crater of the active Poas volcano. Rest assured, the last time it erupted was two years ago, so we felt semi-safe at such a short distance. The only people that actually hike to the mouth of the crater are vulcanologist, those brave souls, or crazy nuts! By the way, the mouth of the crater is 1 mile wide and is one of the few in the world that have a lake inside. The spectacular aqua color is due to the high sulfuric content located in the water. You can thank Carolina for those wonderfully detailed nuggets!!

After the volcano tour, we made a pit stop for fresh strawberries and coffee liquor. YUM. Stay tuned for the next entry as we describe our adventures with wild, tropical birds, human-like monkeys, precious waterfalls, and an unforgettable boat ride on the Saripiqui River.
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