October 1, 2013

Why doesn’t it just rain coffee?

Something exciting just happened! When I went to start writing this blog post, my first thought and start of a sentence to write was in Spanish. Wow. I had already been starting to see Spanish appear in my dreams, but even then only in situations where I was needed to translate for people. And now this! I’m really excited to see how much easier my Spanish is flowing.

Our internet has still been spotty, which has made for an interesting past week. {I wrote this a week ago. Current update: our internet is BACK!} If I was in the states, and for whatever reason didn’t have internet, I’d probably be sad, but I’d have lots of ideas of things to do. Here, between my lack of knowledge of the area, the eminent rain, and my nervousness of walking alone or at night, my options become a bit limited. My homework has gotten done very quickly, and I’ve already finished a book! I’m making my life here sound pretty boring. Let me try to change your mind about that:

A building on the property of a coffee plantation in Costa RicaLast weekend, we went on a day excursion to a coffee plantation, volcano, and waterfalls. What an awesome trip! I learned so much about coffee, and even got to try some. Hands down, it was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. Here are some interesting coffee-related facts, in case you’re a coffee fan like me:

 

 

 

  • The Doka Coffee Plantation’s main buyers are Pete’s Coffee, Green Mountain Coffee, and Starbucks. All of it gets bought pre-roasting, and the individual companies do that part of the process themselves.
  • Coffee has a harvesting period of about 4 months, during which time workers from Panama and Nicaragua come to hand-pick the coffee “cherries”.

Coffee from Doka Coffee Plantation in Costa Rica

  • The workers have to return to each tree 4 times, because the cherries ripen at different rates.
  • Each coffee plant lives about 25-28 years, after which time it gets replaced with a new one.
  • Coffee is the second biggest export in the world, and one of the biggest in Costa Rica, alongside bananas.
  • Coffee is the second-most-preferred beverage in the world, after water. I think the full listing was water, coffee, tea, beer, wine, coke.
  • Coffee doesn’t smell or taste like coffee until it is roasted. The first coffee-enjoyers originally would eat or suck on the raw coffee cherries in order to feel the caffeine effect. Then one night, while they were celebrating around a fire, they were spitting the cherries into the fire. Fascinated by the amazing smell, coffee as we know it today was discovered.

All in all, a fascinating first stop!

A volcano in the Costa Rica cloud forestAfter, we drove to the volcano. We took a nice walk through the cloud forest (a different climate than the rain forests of Costa Rica, but still very cool) and admired the “Poor Man’s Umbrella” plant. We arrived at the crater just in time to take a few pictures. After maybe ten minutes, the cloud forest lived up to its name and swept a huge cloud over everything, hiding the volcano completely from sight. Our luck was holding out!

Rebecca Murray crouches under a Poor Man's Umbrella plant in the Costa Rica cloud forest

Under the Poor Man’s Umbrella

 

After our nice walk back, we drove over to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. We enjoyed a fantastic buffet lunch, and then walked around and looked at animals. It was like a zoo, but all of the animals are unable to be released in the wild, whether it be because of a previous injury, or previous not-so-intelligent owner. I’m not a fan of zoos, but the reasoning behind this animal refuge helped make it more enjoyable. Oh! Rebecca Murray with a toucan on her arm at the La Paz Waterfall GardensAnd I got to hold a toucan! You can probably tell by the picture that I was freaking out just a bit, but hey, going abroad means embracing new experiences, right?

All of us were pretty happy with our day, and THEN we got to the waterfall. Wow. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, but I have seen some waterfalls. Even after such an incredible day, the waterfall was truly mind-blowing.

A waterfall in Costa Rica

So loud! What a sight, and with that image imprinted on our minds, we made our way back through San Jose slowly, as they were celebrating Independence Day. Another awesome experience to add to the list.

A few days later, we got some pretty serious rain storms. Based off my previous posts, you may be saying “Yea, I get it. It rains. A lot. Move on.” But this was serious rain. All day serious rain. Turning on the news, we realized it was even more serious than we had thought. At the waterfalls we had visited just a few short days earlier, there was major destruction. A “temporary” bridge had been broken (it was only temporary since it had broken before) due to the force of the waterfall and the storm. The frequent earthquake tremors and now drenching rain was the last straw, and the bridge was completely ruined, as was much of the surrounding area.

It was humbling to think we had been there just days before and now the area won’t be ready to accept visitors for quite some time. Just another reminder of how vulnerable Costa Rica is to natural forces. It really builds a much deeper respect for the Ticos, government, everything Costa Rica. I’m here complaining about my shoes getting wet on a near daily basis, and they’re here living every day with a natural disaster around the corner.

Since that trip and realization, I’ve spent some time exploring San José. My friends and I visited a famous bakery, which was really good! We spent our Saturday exploring the city. They have a really neat thing in San Jose called “Enamorate de Tu Ciudad”, which basically means love, or fall in love, with your city. There’s music, local artisans come to sell their products, our host family has a sno-cone stand, and table games and workshops are going on for whoever wants to participate. I thought that was such a cool idea! Maybe Easton can get something like that going ;)

A rainy beach in Costa Rica

Rainy beach day

Some of my friends and I also ventured to a nearby beach, Jacó, for the day, but unfortunately our luck had dissipated. It rained the entire day. Not optimal for a beach day, but we wandered around, enjoyed each other’s company over some yummy food, and walked around the beach for a bit. It ended up being a surprisingly pleasant day.

One thing I’ve realized over the course of all these adventures, is wherever I go, I just want to buy people souvenirs! There’s always so many cool and interesting things to buy, I have to be careful with my money.

This past weekend we went to Nicaragua. My mom is now in the country and I get to see her in 2 days! Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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1 Comment

  1. And the costa rican coffee is delicious as I sit here drinking the real deal! I wonder if I can bring some home.

    says Nancy
    October 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm
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