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19 April 2013

Monteverde: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

We left our lovely little cabin at the foot of the Volcán Arenal early this morning (we were staying at Hotel Campo Verde and I would highly recommended it).


We were picked up for the first stage of our jeep-boat-jeep transfer to Monteverde. Although the "jeeps" are really minibuses, the journey is convenient and not too pricey at $25. Plus, the views as you cross Lake Arenal are amazing.


The roads to La Fortuna are rough, rocky and hilly, but we were still in our hotel in Monteverde by lunchtime. The town is tiny and very hilly, with the main focus being on touristy eateries and tour providers. We split a burrito at Taco Taco, and planned our activities for the next few days.



As it was too late to visit the cloud forests or to do a full day at one of the adventure parks, we toured a coffee plantation instead. El Trapiche is a few miles out of town and tells you everything you've ever wanted to know about making coffee and chocolate, and processing sugar cane. The cocoa processing here is just for show but they do really make coffee and farm sugar cane—neither of which is a native Costa Rican crop, unlike cocoa.





We got to sample saca de guaro, a very strong cane liquor, as well as various stages of the cocoa-to-chocolate process. Then we got to make a toffee from the sugar cane, although it was too sweet to eat very much of it.




And at the end, we got to sample a cup of coffee. It was one of the nicest coffees I've had on this trip so far, although I'm not sure that is saying a lot. I bought a bag of beans to take home anyway. the tour was $32, including transportation from our hotel, which is a little pricey but it lasted several hours, and most of the coffee farms charge similar prices for tours.



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