Costa Rica 2015: Monteverde and the Great Chocolate/Coffee/Sugar Cane Tour
Our last full day in Monteverde began with yet another breakfast on the porch.
We had booked an early tour through Monterverde Reserve with a guide. Christian, the owner of the lodge, does tours but was unable to take us that day, so he arranged for Olman to be our guide. He picked us up in his vehicle and drove us to the reserve. We were in the back of his car and we noticed a machete under one of the seats. When we got out, I pointed it out to Eric, and Olman, upon hearing me say something about it, said “just in case.” We never found out what the “just in case” was for.
We saw several animals on this walk, and Olman was full of knowledge about the area and how the animals survive. We had the pleasure of seeing a sloth up in a tree, and when we looked closer, we realized that she had a baby with her. We also saw a turkey, several coatimundis, and other birds. If you want to see any wildlife on these reserves, you definitely need a guide. Most of what we saw we never would have spotted on our own.
There are also several species of hummingbirds in the area and we saw several nests. We spent some time in near the hummingbird feeders and got some great shots of some of them. While we were hanging around that area, an olingo just randomly showed up. Olman said this was really rare because the olingo is a nocturnal animal. Of course, there were people taking pictures of it and getting in its face. It’s crazy how people act around wild animals!
Afterwards, Olman suggested we have coffee at the cafe. He said they had good coffee, and he was right. We got a chance to chat with him and he told us that most of the Spanish-immersion programs in the country weren’t that great. He suggested that if we ever want to do it, we should contact him and he would set us up with a farm family in the countryside near Sarapiqui. They would be able to host us, serve us genuine Costa Rican food, and help us learn Spanish for much less than any of the other programs. Plus, he said that there wouldn’t be much English spoken in that area, so we would pick up on it pretty quickly. I definitely have that idea floating around in the back of my mind!
After our tour, we went back into the reserve and hiked on our own. We hiked up to the continental divide, which was a really cool view with all the fog.
We took a taxi back to our room for leftover pizza and then got ready for a coffee/chocolate/sugar cane tour.
El Trapiche picked us up and took us to their family plantation where we learned about how chocolate, coffee, and sugar cane are all made, starting with the fields. We also got to taste chocolate at each stage, and it actually doesn’t taste good until the sugar is added. I also didn’t know that cocoa beans are actually fermented at one of the stages. I almost wish I didn’t know that, but it’s not going to keep me from eating chocolate. We also got to make candy using homemade sugar.
On the way back, we had them drop us off in town so we could catch dinner before going back to the room. We had a hard time finding it because it was a little outside of the main area, but we came across a lady walking home carrying groceries and she was able to show us where to go. We ended up eating outside once we found it. The prices were good and the portions were huge. I couldn’t even eat all of my food.
Unfortunately, the soda was right next to a bar and a couple of random drunk men were hanging out around the soda. One of them was super drunk and it made me kind of nervous. Luckily, the waitress happened to see him and alerted the owner, so he came out and told him in Spanish to leave. The guy ended up hanging out in the street and walking around by the bar but at least he didn’t come back. The waitress called us a cab when we were finished and we headed back to the room.