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Published: April 23rd 2015
The most wonderful alarm clock wakes you up here - a dawn chorus like no other. These birds are right outside the window, a singing away in the trees - it's something I won't forget!
Over a pancake breakfast, I meet Oliver - an awesome Canadian who tells me about his time in a hostel called Lost and Found, and who's at a loose end this morning, so I try to persuade him to come on a coffee farm tour. It worked, and alongside and American couple and a Dutch lady called Evelyn, we went to the coffee farm to see how local farmers grow and cultivate their coffee plants to make the freshest coffee I have ever tasted. Our guide, Raul, talks us through the early stages of growing the coffee plant, from planting the seedlings to transporting them to the greenhouses, the constant risk of contamination and the importance of ensuring only certain people manage the beans and do not touch the machinery for fear of
oil from human skin getting in to the coffee, through to the flowering and pollination of the plants before the cherries are produced and picked every 15days. He takes us through the drying and roasting process of the coffee bean, and shows us the drying rooms they use - a natural floored greenhouse which absorbs the moisture whilst getting to extremely high temperatures! In Boquete alone, there are 12 microclimates, all producing various qualities and types of coffee - fascinating for this small town. Humming birds flitter around this flora in abundance - having never seen a hummingbird before, I marvel at their agile darting and the speed at which they move their wings, so effortlessly and so efficiently. Amongst the jungle trees, the coffee plants, orange and banana trees, there is a glorious garden with the most vibrant colours I have ever seen. I will soon come to learn that these volcanic soils allow most of the flowers of boquete to be this vibrant, full of vivid colours and delicious smells.
<br style="color: font-family: UICTFontTextStyleBody; font-size: 17px; line-height: normal; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(26,
26, 26, 0.301961); -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto;" />Amongst the coffee farm is a honey farm too - these bees are used to pollinate the coffee flowers, and obviously create delicious honey, of which we were fortunate enough to taste. 15 different honeys, all wholly natural with no chemicals or preservatives, with varying flavours - from summer grass, molasses, woody, tropical fruit, berry, nutty, pink blossom, caramel, citrus, cherry.... The flavours come from the flowers, resins, sugars and fruits the bees have been pollinating, naturally tainting the honey. It's incredible to be enlightened to the different flavours and strengths of honey, which change on the pallet depending on the previous honey you taste - exactly like tasting different wines. One honey was to die for: it's white and has a butter like texture and consistency. I couldn't resist bringing some of that home!!
Upon returning to the hostel, I decided to take myself off to explore the town of boquete with the camera. It's such a quaint town, with incredibly friendly
locals, brightly coloured houses amongst vivid garden flowers, with a deep jungle green backdrop amongst the volcano. It's a stunning oasis, so far removed from the normal rat race I endure on a day to day basis.
Some new Argentinian guys arrive in my room at the hostel, who are planning a trip to the waterfalls. Excellent - I invite myself to join!! Myself, Ariel, Guido and Katie, a girl from NYC, all head up to the much anticipated waterfalls, and we are not disappointed. A delightful jungle hike, involving a little mud, rope climbs and hauling oneself up steep inclines, we get to see 3 stunning waterfalls, for which we marvel at their antique beauty. We even sit on the edge of the second waterfall over looking the drop - to say my heart nearly came out my chest is an understatement. I appreciate how fortunate I am to be in this position, however my phobia of heights forces me to head back towards 'normal' ground after
a few minutes (and a group selfie!) I appreciate my Spanish is limited, but being amongst Argentinians I quickly realise different Spanish dialect - I can barely understand the way they speak, both in dialect and speed of their chat! Naturally though, they take the inevitable opportunity to teach Katie and I some useful Argentinian lingo, mainly swear words which I shall be brining back to the UK!
The 'short' waterfall hike is pretty arduous and takes us the best part of 5hours - not the restful afternoon I think I should have embarked on prior to participating in an over night hike up Volcano Baru, but hey, you can sleep when you're dead, right?!?
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