*** ORANGE FLOWERS ***
As promised, the rain cleared away by morning and the sun was peeking through scattered clouds. Yay! I’m going to need some sun (and coffee) to perk me up this morning, after a cold, uncomfortable night. You just never know what kind of bed you’re going to get in each place you stay!
We rolled out of our cozy cabin at 7:45 a.m. so that we could make it to the expat-popular Sugar & Spice for breakfast before needing to be at Café Ruiz at 9 a.m. for our coffee tour.
Spanish Omelets (fritatta) were on the menu today at Sugar & Spice. That, along with a side of toast, made for a wonderfully filling breakfast! Oh, coffee too, of course. The boys had Belgian Waffles topped with pineapple, strawberries, and whipped cream. They couldn’t help being excited when those plates were placed before them!
*** 3 PIC COLLAGE FROM SUGAR N SPICE ***
By the time our food arrived, we had to scarf it down so as to not be late to Café Ruiz. We arrived just as Carlos was arriving to pick us up. He will be our private tour guide today! He speaks clear English, and has learned every word from the tourists he’s guided over the last 10 years! We loaded into his Hyundai H1 van (we took note of the model because it was actually a cool van!) and proceeded to wind up the mountain to the Café Ruiz coffee farm. We learned and saw so much during the 3-hour tour, so I’ll just highlight some interesting points.
Café Ruiz Coffee Tour
*** 2 PIC COLLAGE OF GREEN COFFEE BERRIES ***
Left: typical coffee berry – $15/lb Right: Gueisha berries which is more rare and much more expensive – $160/lb
*** FAMILY PIC IN FRONT OF COFFEE TREES (SHORT ONES) ***
We are standing among 4 month old coffee trees. They take 5 years to produce fruit!
*** 4 STAGES IN CARLOS’ HAND ***
Carlos showing us the stages of a coffee berry.
*** SUN DRYING BEANS ***
Beans sun- drying in different forms: Natural (with the berry skin on,) Honey (with the skin off, but sweet coating unstripped,) and Washed (both berry and sweet coating off.)
*** FAMILY PIC ON PILES OF BAGS OF BEANS ***
Sitting on piles of coffee before it goes to the next stage: sorting by size, color and density. The big stack behind us is 100% organic!
*** CASA RUIZ EMPLOYEES HOUSING ***
Casa Ruiz (that’s the brand name), houses it’s employees free, including utilities. They even opened a supermarket so they could buy groceries for less than they could in town.
*** KRISTIAN TALKING WITH CARLOS ***
Standing amid the machinery that ferments and washes the coffee berries. It’s the low season, so these big machines will not be in use again until September.
Coffee Roasting Plant
*** US ALL COVERED UP FOR TOUR ***
All dressed up and ready to tour the roasting plant!
*** EMPTY COFFEE SACKS ON WALL ***
A few of the types of coffee Café Ruiz supplies to several countries including the U.S.A.
*** COFFEE COLLAGE ***
Left: roasting Right: cooling
*** BOYS IN THEIR SMOCKS ***
Sittin’ around, smelling coffee. The boys were such good sports and even tried sips of the coffee we were allowed to sample at the end of the tour.
Carlos handed Kristian and I each a swag bag of goodies, including a bag of Café Ruiz coffee! It was a wonderfully informative tour. We’re so glad we took it! We purchased another bag of coffee that Carlos had mentioned was his favorite during the tour and some banana bread for $.35 and oatmeal cookies for $.20.
We decided to eat lunch at the Panamonte Restaurante, which is another recommended food destination. After taking a wrong turn (my fault), getting stuck behind an automatic gate and trying to explain to some Spanish-speaking locals that we couldn’t get out, and FINALLY having them understand what we were saying, and helping us out, we made it out and to the restaurant. That was interesting.
I ordered a really yummy BLT, the boys shared a pizza and Kristian had a burger. The restaurant itself had a colonial beach type feel. Hard to explain, but really soft and serene.
*** FANCY YELLOW FROZEN DRINK ***
We had been given some free drink coupons somewhere along our journey for the Panamonte, so Kristian ordered their signature drink, “El Salto” and I ordered a glass of chardonnay.
By the time we had finished, the rain had really begun coming down. We decided to pretty much call it a day and head back to the cabin, where I worked on the blog for a couple of hours then took a nap, Kristian worked on whatever it is he does (hee hee) and the boys got some game time in.
We’re really looking forward to driving off this mountain tomorrow, seeing the sun again (for a longer period at a time) and getting in the Caribbean in Bocas del Toro! We’ll be spending 5 nights in Bocas Town before heading over to Isla Bastimentos! I have a feeling the best is yet to come!