March 28–Sunday morning started off with a breakfast buffet in one of the banquet rooms out by the pool, where we got to meet all the other people we would be spending the next few days having our great Adventure. The guides gave us an overview as to what the week would be like and then we were off to our motorcoach that would be our transportation over the next few days. Tigre was the best bus driver ever and he proved that time and again with getting us through the narrow roads and traffic—and not hitting a thing! We drove an hour until we came to the Espiritu Santo coffee plantation. We were told a little about the different blends of coffee, then had a chance to sample them before we started out on our tour. The peaberry blend seemed to be a huge hit with everyone. I’m not sure what I thought a coffee plant looked like, but I certainly didn’t know what a coffee bean looked like, or what I had always thought was a coffee bean. We were educated in the coffee business—and saw the coffee berry that has the seed inside, which is what we know as a bean. We learned about the trees that are planted among the coffee plants to keep them shaded to provide the right light for the plant. They’re on very steep hills, and are all picked by hand. They’re put in a basket that weighs 25 pounds when filled, and then they carry 2 baskets out to the cart/truck. A good picker can pick 20 baskets a day. After the fields we then went into the roasting room and saw a master roaster at work. He knows just when to release the beans to get the maximum flavor from the beans. That room smelled so good (and was so hot!). After this we went to a little mock house to see how they brewed coffee, which is pouring hot water through a small burlap bag (they still say this is much better than paper filters). From there we went to the lunch they had prepared for us.
From there we drove another hour (which was probably 5 miles, but with the winding roads it just took forever) and stopped at Sansero to spend some time at a topiary park. It was very cool with a lot of topiaries. While there we saw a funeral, with the casket being carried through the street to the church and everyone just walking along behind.
We were then back on the bus for a 2-hour drive to our destination for the next 3 nights—Hotel Arenal Kioro. During all of these long bus rides, Fico told us about the country and history as well as what we were seeing as we drove past the fields and towns. He was quite a wealth of information! We were all thrilled when we got our first glimpse of the active volcano! We got to the hotel and got our rooms then headed out to settle in. We opened the door and it was just amazing! This room was fantastic, but best of all was the glass wall that looked out at the volcano. They said about 20% of the time you can see the top of the volcano, and we were lucky enough that we saw it for 2 days (then saw what most people see—clouds covering it!). This hotel was right at the base of the volcano and had the most beautiful grounds I’ve ever seen. There were flowers everywhere, winding trails that led to the spa, pool and hot springs (there were several hot springs pools running into each other) and the volcano always in the background. The room was gorgeous! As you walked in there was a day bed facing a glass wall that looked out the front of the building. There was also a desk there, and a partial wall separating that section from the rest of the room. There was also an umbrella for those frequent rains they get there (well, it is a rainforest). The other side of the partial wall was 2 queen beds, TV, mini-fridge, 2 chairs and a table facing the glass doors/wall that looked out at the volcano, and a hot tub! The bathroom had double sinks and the toilet, then near the hot tub was a separate room with a huge shower! The showerhead came straight down from the middle of the ceiling, so it was like showing in the rain.
That night we had dinner with entertainment from local people. There were 3 men that sang, then several girls that danced, including many of our group in their dance. They were energic and smiling all the time. It was a great evening. I didn’t sleep all night for lying in bed watching the volcano since it stayed clear all night.
You can see pictures from the trip here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/themouseforless/albums/72157662447955234