Koo Koo for Cacao, Coffee, and CATIE!

My My! What a day! First of all I am simply in a state of bliss after Norma’s party cake. Best desert we’ve had so far. This must be another great product of the food in Costa Rica. Speaking of the delicious meals we’ve been shoveling down, lets talk about what we learned today!

The day started off with a visit to the graduate school CATIE. Located only a couple miles away from the Guayabo Lodge, CATIE is a private property and university home to about 160 students in the post graduate program. Firstly, we were given a tour by a professor and director of various programs at the school. The campus was clean, architecturally pleasing, and somewhat active. In fact today was the orientation of incoming students into the program. Some were hanging out in the common area and drinking coffee during a break. The director says that coffee, as we have come to know is very popular in Costa Rica, is the student’s drink of choice.

We got to sit in a classroom and listen to the director talk about the school and different aspects of their mission, education, and students. I was interested to learn that there was a sustainability development program at the school. He further explained that the program consists first of elementary classes to get the students all prepared for the program, then of further detailed classes on sustainability. The students must have thesis work by their 3rd year and also must incorporate local communities in their projects. The CATIE students are encouraged to be taught and think outside the box, and also to improve the communities around them and the world in general. CATIES University seemed to have eager and talented students attending. We then toured the cacao plantation in the CATIE grounds. Here we learned about the cross breading of the cacao plants, and got to taste whats on the inside. Here’s a picture of me with one.

Lunch was so cool! We got to sit under a large outside patio, overlooking some parts of the Finca Monte Carlo farm. This was a very beautiful lunch destination. Next we got to explore the grounds, meeting the pigs, horses, sheep, and bunnies that live on the farm. Man were those pigs FAT AND LOUD. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a big so big. We then traveled to the coffee bean plantation, just up the road from the lunch area. I was really blown away by the detailed process that making coffee entails. Firstly, the plantation itself was equip with rich soil, bugs, and lustrous coffee plants. We then got to see how the beans were separated, dried, skinned, and heated to produce the coffee beans and coffee itself. Alfonso, a workingman on the plant, skins and sorts ever single damn bean they sell. EVERY ONE. Man does that man need a raise. It is tedious work, but the end result is delicious. We got to taste the coffee, chocolate, and other products the sell at the end of the tour. Mom and Papa if your reading this- I snagged ya a bag of sustainable organic coffee beans, your going to love the taste. What I liked most about the mission of the plantation was the idea that they encourage their plantation to be a home for wildlife and support the sustainability of the environment their coffee is grown on.

Overall, today was amazing.Currently, Melissa, Jake, and I are watching Obamas live farewell address..from a small lodge in Costa Rica. He just said “believe in your ability to bring about change”, this is a theme of most of my inspiration coming from this trip. Tomorrows day sounds just as promising and I’m very excited for the hotel, it has a pool and looks rad 😉

Well, just another day of amazing adventures…Have I exclaimed how freaking lucky we are enough?!!

Pura Vida!

Maggie Niemann

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