Today consisted of some chocolate tasting, coffee tasting, and lots of fun! Off to another early start, we headed towards CATIE, passing through the mountains of Turrialba. CATIE, the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, was our first destination. We met Daniel, who told us all about CATIE and what they do at the school. CATIE is a graduate institute that specializes in agriculture and education. Most of the students at CATIE come from Latin America, but they have students representing countries from North America, Asia, and South America. During Daniel’s presentation, we learned that CATIE does not give traditional exams to their students. Instead, students are given hands-on tests which is graded by the community, overseeing if the task was completed up to their standard.
After our class left CATIE’s campus, we headed over to the cacao plantation run by CATIE. We had a translator and worker at the plantation explain everything to us, and how the cacao fruit is grown. The translator told us that all of the cacao fruits are cloned into hybrids to make the fruits more resistant to disease and insects. The highlight of the day was definitely seeing the CATIE worker clone one of the cacao plants, I had never seen the operation in person and it was special seeing it up close. Eating chocolate everyday and enjoying it, I never think about how the farmers grow the cacao fruit; putting the entire process into perspective was incredible, you truly come to appreciate these small things when you see it done in person.
Cacao fruit CATIE Worker’s
Following CATIE, we ate lunch together at an ecotourism destination which was a farm. Sausage, fresh pasta, ribs, and salad was our lunch for the day. Prepared for us freshly, the lunch was absolutely delicious, with some great lemonade on the side. I got to play with the farm’s very cute dog, Sushi. That was especially fun since I’m missing my dogs right about now. On the farm we got to see all of the animal’s, they had three stallions there we got to pet, several pigs, and some rabbits. Once we were finished on the farm, we headed over to coffee plantation owned by the ecological farm. We met a worker called Alfonso whose job was to take care of all of the coffee bean operations. Alfonso had to sort through every single coffee bean and make sure it was fit for sale. We enjoyed some coffee and chocolate prepared by the farm after, which was quite delightful. We ended the day on a high note eating a delicious dinner at the Guayabo lodge, some yummy angel-hair pasta 🙂 I cannot wait for tomorrow!