We thoroughly enjoyed our visit which came at the end of a week long group tour of Costa Rica. Our charismatic guide, Matt Le Blanc lookalike, Jorge, made the talks and demonstrations fun and memorable. We saw the coffee beans growing on the hillside, then drying, roasting and being sorted into different grades in the sheds. We also learnt about caffeine and its uses, though Jorge was completely mystified as to why anyone would want to drink coffee without it. "Coffee with no caffeine? Is not coffee surely!"
We saw sugar cane growing, sucked on the raw cane, saw it crushed to remove the juice and watched the juice made into crunchy toffee honeycomb, brown sugar and delicious fudge which we all sampled. We drank the alcoholic cane spirit. We also observed chocolate production from bean encased in a creamy pith within the pod, to dark chocolate and milk chocolate. The ride in a traditional, brightly-coloured ox cart was great fun and the surrounding area was full of interesting wild life and plants such as pineapple and castor oil. At one stage I spotted a large grey squirrel climbing a tree. It seemed to take great exception to me photographing it and, leaping off the tree began hurtling towards me, only veering away at the last minute! The views across the valley were far reaching. At the end of the tour our group was served a traditional lunch and, of course, coffee. A great way to end our tour of the natural wonders of Costa Rica.