A Very Happy Birthday   Leave a comment

Costa Rica was definitely the right choice for me – it is perfectly suited to my interests. As my last post described, the last field trip was focused on two different things that definitely interest me: Nature and Chocolate. Well, lucky for me, our following field trip contained my third love in life: Coffee. Last Wednesday, which also happened to be my birthday, we traveled to an area called “la zona de los santos” because it is an area dotted with many small pueblos, each with a different Saint’s name, like San Rafael, San Carlos, Santa María, etc. Once again, we were provided with some amazing scenery as our mini-bus literally wound up and down through the mountains (some of the tightest curves and steepest slopes I’ve experienced!), which soon became lined with rows and rows of coffee plants. We visited a coffee harvesting plant, which is part of fair trade coffee exportation, where we learned about the process of harvesting and processing the coffee beans, and later about roasting them. Some of the process is explained below, with pictures:

A view of the mountains lined with coffee plants as we drive to the plantation, and a close-up of coffee beans on the branches of the plant (The beans turn red as they mature)

The beans are transported from the field to the processing center in trucks (photo on the left) – Since it is near the end of the harvesting season, all beans are being harvested – the mature red ones as well as the green (the green make a different type of coffee than the red – they are separating in the shelling process). The cases of the mature beans are easily removed to expose the cores (middle & right picture). The cases are composted and reused as fertilizer, and the cores – what we know as coffee beans – are dried. After the drying process, the beans are bagged and exported all over the world (below, left). The dried beans, “Grano de Oro”, are then roasted, which turns them into the gorgeous and fragrant beans that we are familiar with (below).

We were also treated to a fabulous lunch: so great, I had to take a picture. Here you can see a typical Costa Rican lunch – of course rice and beans, with chicken, fried mature plantains, and casados (chopped up vegetables, sort of a “salad”): this lunch had one of arracache and one with palmito (heart of palm), salad (not shown), and fresco. All of that was followed with fruit for desert. Que rica! (Again, I can’t seem to get away from the theme of food).

Of course, we also had fresh espresso after lunch – let’s just say the bus ride home was pretty crazy as we were all infused with incredible amounts of caffeine from the day. The euphoria continued into the night as most of us went out to celebrate my 21st birthday. I really appreciated my classmates and my tico friends taking me out for some dancing even though it was the middle of the week. We had a great time, and we all made it to class at 7:30 the next day!

The only unfortunate thing about this field trip is that it was our last one that we will have together as a class for a very long time. In the next few days, we will all be working hard on final projects for our Spanish class and getting our proposals for our research projects finalized. I’ll hopefully have time for another update or two before I head out to my rural home for my research project…


Posted February 23, 2011 by rwieme in Uncategorized

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