Costa RicaCosta Rica

Coffee Tour and then Snakes

Destination: Monteverde

The warm sun woke us up early and without an early tour we had a little time to enjoy the patio. We headed into town around nine, got a light breakfast at a little soda and then we were off to a tour close to my heart and taste buds.

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The Don Juan Coffee Tour was fun and interesting (and they give everyone a free hat)! Okay, yes, I might be a bit biased given that I really like -- all right, love -- coffee, but I am confident that even non-coffee junkies would find this journey from seedling to mug interesting.

Just a short van ride took us to the eight year old Don Juan plantation. Upon arrival we were immediately greeted by our guide, Marcos. A native of Monteverde, Marcos is knowledgeable not only about the history of coffee, but of Costa Rica as well. The tour lasted about an hour and a half, during which time Rayna and I were able to see the whole process of making coffee. With a rich history in Costa Rica, the first coffee plantation was established in San Jose in 1816. The coffee grown on the Don Juan plantation is harvested by hand, after which time it is dried, aged and then de-parched before it is roasted. Needless to say it is a long process, which is (in my opinion) well worth every cent spent on a cup.

After a cup of coffee with Marcos, the van took us back to town. With some free time on our hands, Rayna and I went to Bird Watcher's Paradise to take in some sun on the patio. However, we were not the only ones there. The hummingbirds love the purple salvia bushes out in front of the cabin.

The afternoon found us driving through town headed to our new lodge that boasts a commanding view of Arenal Volcano. On the way, however, the Serpentario caught our eye (ok, caught Rayna's eye-- I am not a big fan of snakes). It is quite a large facility, with 40 species of snakes, three species of frogs, two species of tarantulas as well as other reptiles. Little did we know the roommate drama that was going to unfold before our eyes as we began the tour.

Picture it: I'm trying to speed the tour along, so I keep looking ahead pretending to be really interested in the next slithering, venomous creature. Well, during one of my not-so-subtle attempts to move things along, I noticed a snake biting the neck of another. Now, I don't know much about snakes (though our guide was doing his best to inform me) but this just did not seem right. To make a long story short, Rayna, myself and the entire staff stood watching as one Central American Coral Snake ate another. Yes, one completely ate the other. From start to finish the victim disappeared into its former roommate's body within forty minutes while being meticulously documented by all those toting cameras. Apparently the snakes had been cohabitating for over a year without mishap -- today was another story.

After the dramatic stint at the Serpentario, we decided to stop for dinner before venturing on to our new lodge (which is about a half hour drive from town). Tramonti Pizzeria & Restaurant looked inviting from the road. It was a good choice - pleasing atmosphere, wonderful menu, great service and we both enjoyed our dinners. Their insalada caprese and fresh pesto tossed with spaghetti was delicious.

We just arrived at Vista Verde Lodge and the thick fog is obstructing our view of Arenal Volcano. However, we are scheduled to stay here for two nights, so we are hoping it will clear up!

Coffee Tour and then Snakes in Pictures

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