Waking early, I find myself excited and a little frightened at the same time. In about 30 minutes, Alex and I are set up to taste white water. We head towards breakfast to grab some coffee before the drive. The trip includes breakfast and lunch, so all we needed was a change of clothes. After what seemed liked more than 30 minutes, a man asked us for our vouchers… what vouchers? I was never given any vouchers, all I had was a kinda confirmation e-mail. But that is how most places roll, to say ya ya ok-if you show up you’re confirmed. In my broken Spanglish, I managed to figure out that the rafting trip was never confirmed due to error on the hotel. We had to renegotiate breakfast because the first time through we only got coffee- assuming there would breakfast on the bus. Tired, cold and hungry, I called upstairs to wake my best friend.
Starting the day over with my camera in tow, we scheduled a tour of a local coffee plantation. Café Brit was located about 40 minutes from town and was half the price of the rafting trip. Once on the property, a few slap-stick actors explained how coffee was grown, picked and processed. Coming form wine-county, it all had a familiar flavor. I was glad to learn that at home, we are taking the right steps towards sustainable coffee. Most of the mega-large coffee growers grow in cleared patches of the rain forest with little shade and lots of harsh chemicals. A few of the higher end coffees are grown in large crops with a few trees dotting the crop for cooling shade and range the full spectrum from organic to heavily processed. The best coffees, both tasting and sustainable are biodynamically grown under naturally occurring canopies. At home we have recently switched from Illy- one of my favorite food loves, to an environmentally friendly locally produced coffee that tastes just as good.
Later, in the Central Market, my camera did little but make me look like I had something valuable to steal. The $2000 worth of plastic and glass tucked tightly under my arm, and strapped across my back, would have meant half a year of feasting to any local that could manage to get my investment from my grips.