Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 11: Coffee Tour, Return to Alajuela, and Life of Luxury

We woke up on the final day to beautiful sunny day. It is definitely a bitter sweet feeling knowing that at this time tomorrow, we will be on a plane back to the US. By the way, this is the hostel we have been staying at for the past two nights!

As we left Quepos heading towards Alajuela, we crossed Crocodile Bridge. As the name suggests, this is the view from the bridge. We took a pit stop and walked down to admire these creatures. Some of the locals even capitalized on this opportunity, by selling raw chicken to be thrown down to the crocs. It was pretty cool to see the alligators attack the meat.

After arriving back in Alajuela, we went on a Coffee Plantation tour. Our guide, a Guatemalan Native, like most of the coffee workers, walked us through the process. It was very eye opening to learn everything that goes into producing a cup of coffee.

This machine is still used to separate the beans from the cherries. They have been using this same machine since the 1800s, and it is powered by an underground river. It was very interesting to learn that the plant uses no electricity and produces almost no waste! Even on the industrial level, Costa Ricans look for ways to minimize their impact on the environment.

A direct comparison between the different coffee bean grades. The closest bag contains the highest quality beans. The Costa Rican government does not allow these Peaberry beans to be exported. Instead, international consumers must buy online directly from the plantation or visit Costa Rica to buy these coffee beans. This helps drive tourism and allows for better quality control. The furthest bag contains the lowest quality bean, which is sold to instant coffee companies like Folgers and Maxwell House.

A look at the final product. These are all the different roasts that Doka Estate sells.

After the Coffee Tour, we arrived at Hotel 1915. None of us expected to be staying in a place of luxury on the final night. This hotel has an open aired Spanish Courtyard and balconies in the room.

We explored Alajuela, which turned out to be a very cool city. Murals and statues commemorate the Costa Rican fight for independence, while beautiful churches line the town plazas.

A beautiful sunset in Alajuela to symbolize the ending of a perfect trip.

One last hurrah. Ron and Luke treated all of us to dinner. We went to a nice restaurant and relived some of the most memorable moments of the trip. I live for moments like this and would give anything to go back to this night. It was by far the best way to end a fantastic study abroad experience.

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