Part Two continues.........Day 12, Monday, Oct 10, 2016, Caribbean foothills, lowlands and highlands- After a little successful exploring around the main building, the owner Juan Hernandez walked over and greeted us. -
Beny (left), Captain "El Zorro" Andres (center, and Juan Hernandez (right)
Beny told us that Juan is a Cacao farmer.....he has a large plantation of Cacao across the road from the boat dock. His surprise was that he had been cultivating a small Cacao grove next to the main building which will be established as a "Chocolate Tour" in combination with the boat ride and lunch. What a great package! For me, I find the whole cacao growing, and chocolate tour absolutely fascinating.
Juan is planning on having the Chocolate tour ready for us next year when we come which will include the chocolate processing and tasting.....this is excellent! If you have never experienced this, its very interesting.
Juan gave us a tour through the small grove that he has established by the office. He told us that he will have the building and stand built for the tours. Juan's Cacao grove-
Chocolate comes from processing the seeds/beans from inside the pods.
When the fermentation process is completed, the beans are placed on open trays to dry evenly in the sun. The seeds must remain dry or will spoil if they get wet.-
As the seeds dry in the sun, naturally, you can smell the natural chocolate aroma -
When the beans are completely dried, they are warmed up to loosen up the husks from the beans-
The beans are then placed in a mortise and pestle and the beans are lightly ground to start the husk removal-
With most of the husks removed, the remaining beans are ground down to a course consistency-
Properly ground beans for processing-
Hot water can be added to the ground beans to make a hot beverage. The Mayans had such a drink that they called "Bitter Water" hinting at the bitter taste of the raw cacao beans. To this bitter water the Mayans added chili pepper and sugar. Other spices can be added to this drink such as vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, pepper and other local flavors-
Further processing by taking the ground coarse cacao powder an heating it up in a double boiler with added sugar, flavorings and cacao butter will render the mixture into a smooth liquid-
Heading up to the Highlands.....We left Puerto Viejo very fulfilled, it was a really good morning. Beny asked if we wanted lunch and I suggested that little special place in the highlands near LaPaz, that I call the "Hummingbird Mirador". Jen and I have been here a few times and it is a very special place and one of our favorites!
As we drove up the foothills starting towards the highlands, the clouds started to cover the higher elevations .........
.....and the summits of the mountains and volcanoes obscured from the dense clouds......
In 2010 when Jen and I were in Costa Rica, we stopped here on our way back from the Caribbean lowlands. Come to find out, two weeks after we were home, Beny called us to tell Jen and I that this beautiful little home and mirador was lost to the earthquake! That was so sad. But come to find out this trip, that they were still here, however they lost half of their house in the earthquake. But they had re-built and were back in business.
The place is the home of Jorge Mora Robles and Elizabeth Rodriquez Segura. They have a back porch platform mirador that has many Hummingbird feeders and a bird fruit feeding station with a back-drop view that is nothing less than spectacular! They operate a little restaurant with delicious Tico traditional food on the menu. While you are having a meal, you can sit on the porch/platform and enjoy the amazing view and birds. This area has many species of Hummingbirds, with continuous bird traffic including specialties such as the Red-headed Barbet and Emerald Toucanets!-
The kitchen and indoor restaurant seating.......
........but one of my favorite parts is that they cook on a wood-burning stove! Fantastic!-
For lunch, Beny chose the homemade beef stew, Pam, Jim and I had the Casado con pollo.....or typical Costa Rican lunch with chicken........
And of course a Costa Rican meal wouldn't be complete without Lizano!!-
The area surrounding the home and restaurant and below the mirador is lush tropical cloudforest-
The view from the deck mirador is beyond breathtaking, but today however, Jim and Pam weren't able to see it (just yet) because of the heavy shroud of cloudforest clouds that obliterated the magnificent view-
However, slowly the clouds began to dissipate and drift by offering a few hints of the view....
........ Little by little the view started to open up.........
.......until it was nearly free from clouds........
.......and you could see the huge waterfall across the valley until now that was only heard in the fog. The other side of the valley is actually the back side of Braulio Carrillo National Park.-
When the view became completely clear, I heard "Oh my, this keeps getting better and better"!! :^)-
female Coppery-headed Emerald-
Yellow-crowned Euphonia that always appeared in this Guava tree-
The beautiful Passerini's Tanager (formally Scarlet-rumped Tanager)-
And the first Slaty-backed Nightangale-Thrush I have ever seen made an appearance below the feeding platform on the ground, that was a nice bird to end the afternoon on!-
We decided that this mirador was really special and we were going to return here in the morning. Being only an hour and a half from the Hotel, we could leave early after breakfast and be here for the morning active birds. We told Senora Elizabeth that we would be here in the morning and she wished us Hasta manana and buenas tardes!
Since this mirador is close to LaPaz, we have to drive right by the last LaPaz waterfall on the way back to San Jose......beautiful!
San Jose looking down as we drive down from the highlands-
We arrived back to the Intercontinental Hotel arond 4:00 pm and the sun was shining bright and warm. Jen's trade show was over for today, and she joined us outside. We sat on the benches in the sitting area outside in the front of the hotel by entrance. By now the afternoon flight of Crimson-fronted Parakeets was in full swing as the birds came to the Palm Trees to roost for the night. With this great lighting, a photo op presented itself!-
Another great day!! Tomorrow morning we will get an early start after breakfast and head up to the Hummingbird Mirador! Buenas nochas!!
Week two Continues........Day 13, Tuesday, Oct 11, 2016, Back up to the Caribbean Highlands, Hummingbird Mirador......
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