Monday January 4, 2010
This morning we got up at went on a tour of a coffee farm, La Tripache. It was actually a working sugar mill, but with the invention and implementation of newer more efficient means of harvesting sugar, they had to diversify a little. So it also became a coffee farm. For someone who drinks as much coffee as I do, I was shocked at how little I knew about the process of growing and harvesting beans as well as the roasting part. However, I do have a new favorite coffee and it is grown in the cloud forest of Monteverde. Also on the tour we got to see the sugar mill process, which in my opinion was gross. They kept making us try all this sugar, it smelt horrible, and tasted even worse. We did get to make our own candy, which was cool but did not taste very good in my opinion, although some people on my trip thought otherwise.
We then headed back to Santa Elena for some lunch and time to explore the city a little more. A group of us ate at an obvious tourist trap restaurant called the Tree House. It was pretty cool though, in the middle of the restaurant was a huge tree and it was also the roof of the restaurant. The food was pretty good and it wasn't too expensive. After that, Jenna and I wanted to find some authentic stuff so we wondered a little off the beaten path and found a great little shop with the old women making Incan style clothing right in front of you. It was pretty cool and of course we both found some things we loved.
When we finally got back, we had some time to catch up on some reading, journaling and time to get ready for a meeting with Martha Campbell and then a nice dinner with the group. Martha Campbell is the daughter of one of the founding families and her father documented almost all of the villages historical events and everyday happenings with film, so she had some really interesting photos. She was also born and has lived in Monteverde her whole life so she really has seen the area change and had some great stories of her own to tell. We even got to watch a beautiful sunset from her front porch.
We then headed out to a great dinner and some drinks before heading back to our hotel.
Tuesday January 5, 2010
Today wasn't exactly a busy day. We left Monteverde and started our trek to Coopesilencio. On our way there, we easily went through 6 or 7 different climatic zones. When we left Monteverde it was cool and only a little humid, when we got off the bus to walk across the bridge, it was everything you would imagine Costa Rica to be, hot humid and sunny. We had to walk across the bridge because it was literally too unstable for a bus with its passengers to go across at the same time. As we walked across the bridge we looked down and saw dozens of huge croc's just waiting for the bridge to give so they could have a nice snack.
We then got back on the bus and made our way to La Playa de Herradura. We spent lunch and about 2 hours just relaxing on the beach and in the water. We then made our way to the town of Quepos. Quepos is the gateway community to the Manuel Antonio National Park. We spent a quick half hour in Quepos before getting back on the bus for about a half hour to Coopesilencio. Most of us were so whiped, we ate some dinner and were in bed before 9pm.
Wednesday January 6, 2010
This morning we had a nice traditional breakfast of huevos y casado, which is rica and beans, eggs and toast. We then had a quick class session, where my group gave a lesson on Communities Capitals Frameworks and the concept of spiraling up and spiraling down. We then made our way to a tour of the town. I should start with the fact that Coopesilencio is a Cooperative Village.
We started with a tour of the Wildlife Preserve in which they have spider monkeys, toucans, scarlet macaws and white faced monkeys. With most of these animals they will nurse them back to health and then slow release them back into the wild. We then made our way through town, to their store and back to our hotel, which also happens to be their personal tourism project. We then had a quick lunch before heading back on the tour to look at their African Palm Plantation, the village (La Paz, which means the Peace) they are adding to accomodate the young adults who grew up in the village and who are starting families of their own now. We also saw their Women's Cooperative (who would have thought, a cooperative within a cooperative) as well as their farm.
We then had some time to kill before dinner so a few of us made our way down to the river for a quick dip to cool our body temps down. We then made our way back, had a shower and had a quick dinner. We then made our way to another town about an hour away to watch Coopesilencio play a futbol game. Coope of course won and it was a great experience to watch and really be a part of a huge part of their culture. We all had an amazing time and had a few good laughs both at the game and on the bumpy ride back.