Sunday, September 27, 2009

Portezuelo Coffee Finca

Holly, who works at our school as a community-service coordinator, also is experienced working in eco-tourism (which is a buzzword for sustainable tourism, for those of you who are un-hip like me). She organized a trip this weekend up to a coffee finca (farm) up in the mountains, about an hour drive away from the Guatemalan border, and happily I went along.

It was fantastic! We got there in the afternoon, and it was pretty rainy. Everyone was a good sport, so we all huddled indoors and drank hot chocolates and coffees to keep warm. Our hosts at the farm came out to greet us, and they talked about the history of the farm, as well as their motivation for running a part-time eco-tourism business to help supplement their income. They have horses, mountain bikes, hiking trails, and even a few neat ropes courses on the farm! Not to mention delicious food and amazing hospitality. (They had even arranged for us to roast marshmellows at night. Mmmm marshmellows for gringos...) :) There is also a charming remnant of a church where the young couple had gotten married 10 years ago; the actual church collapsed a few years after their wedding, in an earthquake, so now it's just a beautiful empty courtyard, with a wall where the chapel used to stand. Because they had wanted to explore the possibility of offering yoga (and other therapeutic activities) on site, they had asked a yoga teacher to come from San Salvador to stay for the night at the finca. Early the next day, at around 7am, five of us girls rose early to do yoga with Visel the yoga teacher in the chapel courtyard. I'm not really a yoga person, but doing yoga outdoors on a Sunday is such a beautiful feeling! She said that she is down at El Tunco on some weekends, so I might have to look her up so I can check out her morning yoga class on the beach!!

Anyway, after breakfast, since we didn't have a ton of time (it's Sunday, and we teachers had to get back to the city to do work before the day ends), we all got to choose just one activity out of the many things to do at the farm. I had originally planned on going horseback-riding (because I had only done it once in college, and it had been so much fun), but I last-minute changed my mind and decided to go on a hike to the geiser instead. Either way, I had figured I couldn't lose, and visiting the geiser seemed more like a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing. It was a surprisingly leisurely hike down to the geiser, actually. The floor was muddy and slippery from the rain, but otherwise the trail was fairly well-maintained and the terrain was pretty easy to traverse. The actual geiser itself was amazing! When asked how hot the water is in temperature, the guide said, "Demaciado!" and then quickly explained that it's hotter than water that is boiling over fire. You could see the steam and smell the sulfur (sulfre) from even a short distance away. The Earth Science teacher in me swooned obligatorily. :)

This weekend was fantastic, but I missed Geoff a lot. We'll have to go back there together sometime, because I'm sure he would want to check it out, and also because I'd like to check out their horses! (The ladies who went horseback-riding said they went from one hill across to another hill before they finally turned around. Sounds incredible!!)

Yay eco-tourism!

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