As I mentioned previously, I’ll be using the next few Inspiration Saturday posts to re-cap the adventures that the Fiasco and I had on our honeymoon in Costa Rica. Our trip was broken roughly into three parts, the first of which we spent at the Tacacori Ecolodge in Alajuela, the 2nd largest city in CR just outside of the San Jose International Airport (which isn’t actually in San Jose, btw). I’ve created photo galleries so that if you hover over a picture its caption should pop up, and if you click on a picture it will take you to a large-sized version of the photo.
The ecolodge was lovely, it consisted of 3 or 4 casitas (small houses), each with their own porch. There was a nice reception area where we ate breakfast next to Loretta the parrot. The grounds were gorgeously landscaped, with lots of colorful flowers and large trees and palms and shrubs for privacy. The owners were kind and accommodating. We were SO EXCITED to catch our first glimpse of the mountains of Costa Rica from the airplane, we hadn’t realized quite how mountainous the country was until we saw it.
We spent our first afternoon just getting acclimated. We walked to a nearby hotel/resort/spa/restaurant called Xandari, they have a relationship with our ecolodge so we were able to explore their trails and visit their restaurant for dinner. The property was absolutely beautiful and I bet it would be a lovely place to stay. We saw gorgeous flowers, a ton of palm trees, discovered a small waterfall, walked through a huge stand of bamboo, and saw some of the resort’s orchards, which supply the restaurant. Our food was delicious, I had the best drink I’ve ever tasted (they called it pineapple tea) and we discovered how much we love tres leches for dessert!
On our first full day in CR, we ventured to the Poas Volcano National Park to attempt to see the crater. It was completely sunny in the valley but since the elevation is so high, it was completely clouded over near the top of the mountain and we couldn’t see a darned thing. The volcano is technically still active, but its last major ash eruption was in 1910. Today the activity you see is sulfuric smoke rising from fumaroles and sometimes geysers. At almost a mile wide, it’s one of the largest active craters in the world. Even though we couldn’t see the crater, we could still sense its presence by the way the wind blew over the vast space, it was pretty cool. And the surrounding cloud forest was amazing! The above photos are what happens when you take a nature-starved biologist to a new ecosystem for the first time (so many plants to see!!!!).
After the volcano, we visited the Doka Coffee Estate to learn all about how coffee is made. Since CR is such a small country (the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined!) they aim for quality coffee varieties (Arabica) vs quantity (Robusta) in order to remain competitive. Before this trip, neither the Fiasco nor I were coffee drinkers. I still prefer tea, but now we both love the Peaberry roast. The coffee fruits turn red when ripe and are all picked by hand. They are then sorted for quality using their density in water and the fruit is scraped off the seeds within. The seeds sit in containers and ferment for a few days before they are laid out in the sun to dry for for further time. During that time, they need to be completely raked over every 45 minutes and gathered up every night and whenever it rains. (Labor-intensive!) The beans are then roasted for varying times (from 15 – 20 minutes) to create different flavors. Peaberry coffee comes from randomly-mutated coffee fruits that have only one round bean inside, instead of the usual two beans. Such beans make up only 5% of the harvest and are thought to contain higher quantities of the good stuff in coffee. Not sure if that’s true, but it tastes delicious and is not very acidic at all!
After we learned everything there was to know about coffee, we explored the grounds (yet more gorgeous gardens and beautiful plants) before we returned to Xandari for dinner again, where we got to watch a storm roll through the valley. The next day we packed up our things and prepared for our 4-5 hour drive east towards the Caribbean coast, which I’ll cover next week!