Logbook: The Beautiful Valley of San Luis
A quick visit to a coffee farm filled with heavenly aroma, the aroma of life. Coffee is plenty, the people are welcoming, and the birds are singing. Let’s journey down to the San Luis Valley.
One of my favorite places around Monteverde has to be the beautiful valley of San Luis. It seems like a different place from Monteverde. The forests are different, and the flora and fauna are unique. The landscape is mostly farmland, specifically coffee farms. It was my first visit to a coffee farm and I absolutely loved it. Come and learn about some of the interesting traditions of coffee farmers in San Luis!
Local Time: Sat, 05/17/2013 – 7:10 AM
Time Zone: Central Time Zone
Location (Latitude, Longitude): Monteverde, Costa Rica
How far did I travel this week? This week I traveled only about five kilometers, but down in elevation. Monteverde rests at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level. I went down to the lower valley of San Luis, which is about 900 meters above sea level. The drive was all downhill, very steep hills in fact.
How far have I traveled on your journey so far? 350 kilometers
How did I get around this week? It was a field trip in my agro-ecology class so we had a bus that took us there. It took a while to get down the hill. The bus driver was constantly breaking. My heart was beating so fast.
What was the most interesting place I visited this week? I visited a coffee farm in San Luis Valley. The coffee planter’s name is Gilbert. I learned a lot about coffee production from Gilbert. We had a tour of his farm, drank sugarcane water, and had fresh coffee with empanadas (fried stuffed bread with beans).
Other travel news: (short story about what happened this week)
My first impression of the coffee farm was that it did not look like a farm at all, at least not from the farm landscape that I had in mind. The landscape is highly heterogeneous with many different plants. Some of the crop plants besides coffee include sugarcane, banana, and a lot of vegetables such as cilantro, parsley, carrots, and chayotes (vegetable pears). The coffee plants are interspersed among these crops. The younger plants are grown in the lower slope whereas the older, taller trees are found in the upper slope of the farm. I learned that it is important to pay attention to the microclimate of the farm as good coffee with high aroma is usually grown 900 meters above sea level. Coffee plants have different flowering periods throughout the year so the beans can be harvested all year round. The flowers smell really good and they attract many insect pollinators.
Weather Tally (# of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 1
What is the air temperature right now? 56 Fahrenheit
How was the weather this week? Most of the days were rainy. The rain in Monteverde is all day, no stopping. Rain was always accompanied by wind, very strong wind. I tried to walk up the hill when it was raining. I felt like the wind was lifting me up. It was kind of nerve-wracking.
What animals did I see this week? Lots of insects come out with the rain. We had an infestation at the station with lots of flying ants. They were everywhere! I actually found five on my bed the next day.
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week? The coffee seedlings I saw! I learned that during the process of transferring a coffee seedling to a bag, it is necessary to make sure that the tap root is straight before the transfer. Otherwise the adult plant will develop a bent, shallow root and be susceptible to strong wind.
Other Nature News: (short story about what happened this week)
San Luis, just a couple kilometers downhill, harbors a unique set of plants and animals compared to Monteverde. I am impressed with how the ecosystems can be so different with changes in elevation. This applies to the weather as well. When we were on our way to San Luis, it was raining hard in Monteverde. But once we started going downhill, the rain stopped completely. It was sunny and hot! Weird, right? But I loved it so much. San Luis is a beautiful place and the people are so welcoming. I felt at home the moment I stepped out of the bus. I must come back to visit San Luis before I leave Monteverde.
What languages are spoken here? Spanish, English, bird songs, and insect dialect
What type of money is used here? Colones or U.S. dollars. 1 USD = 500 colones
How much does a bottle of water cost? A 1.5L bottle costs about $1.50. How many colones is that?
What was the best meal this week? I had casado for lunch. It is a typical dish in Costa Rican traditional cuisine. Casado means ‘married’ in Spanish. The dish has rice with beans, fried plantain, fish or chicken, and a side salad. It is called casado because it represents the marriage of all the ingredients to produce the perfect dish. I loved it and I practiced naming everything on the plate in Spanish.
What music did I listen to this week? I listened to Spanish songs to help me be familiar with the language
What activity was the most fun this week? My friends and I watched a lightning show on the night sky while eating dinner. It was spectacular!
What did I read this week? I read about sea turtles of Costa Rica and their conservation status. Did you know that the leatherbacks, the world’s largest sea turtles, are critically endangered?
What games or sports did I play this week? I walked up and down the hills many times this week. The hill up to the station does not seem very intimidating anymore.
Other news from this week: (short story about what happened this week)
I learned several coffee traditions during my visit in San Luis. Gilbert, the coffee farmer, told us that drinking coffee in moderation, not excess, helps with muscle toning. Consuming ripe coffee berries can give you bad stomachache. Babies are given coffee with milk in order to sooth their crying. Can you believe it?! Babies drink coffee here. I really enjoyed listening to all these stories and traditions being passed down from one generation of coffee planters to another. Because of these beautiful traditions, the coffee in the area tastes better and permeates the air with heavenly aroma, the aroma of life.