This morning we walked to the central plaza for our tour pick-up. As we were a little bit early we had a seat in the park with a view on the volcano. Whilst we were waiting, we met the other guide and got into an awkward situation but Marijke managed to explain to the guy that we didn’t have any bad intentions and that we were deeply sorry for booking with someone else. He seemed to accept that…
At the plantation in ‘La Azotea’ we got the full explanation of how the coffee is made. It all starts from a little seed inside a berry. The berry is put into rich and humid soil and from there it grows into a very small plant. When it’s big enough it is moved to a bigger garden where it can become a full plant. This takes about 2 months. Once the plant is big enough it’s moved to the plantation. There the plants are either placed in the shade (like our plantation) or in the sun. The process of how the plants grow also define the taste of the coffee beans. From November until March the plants grow flowers – which only blossom for 3 days – and these become green berries which need to ripe until they are fully red. Then they are picked by hand and washed inside a machine. The beans then follow a big process to go from berries into seeds, from seeds into green beans and from green beans into black beans. And these black beans are turned into tasty coffee. Hmmm… jummy.
Also nice to know that the leftovers from the process (leaves, bean cover, etc) are grinded and used for coffee liquor. Whatever is not sold is being used as fertiliser on the plantation. Something to remember next time you drink Kahlua :).
The plantation also has some other incomes that help them maintain the plantation as well as get some extra income. Trees that have become too big to still provide shade for the coffee plants are shopped down and the wood is sold as firewood. They also use banana trees for shade of which they sell the bananas. They even have a special flower garden where you can get several exotic plants and off course people like us help them survives too.
Included within the tour price we also got a guide for the museum of Mayan music and fabrics. The guy was very entertaining and his Spanish was easy to follow. Patrick specifically liked the donkey jaws as musical instrument (no, we are not taking any home :))
Both tours took us all morning and by the time we were back at our camp ground Patrick was completely exhausted and obliged to rest as growing a 38°C fever. With the aid of some head phones, blanket covers, tasty banana crisps and a dose of Dafalgan he could take a little nap in the car whilst it was raining outside.
Only when we were back on our feet we went into town following a trail containing old Spanish colonial buildings as well as the local market.
Oh slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I’ll cut a rug just snug in a jug
A sliced up onion a raw one
Draw one – waiter, waiter, percolator