I left Jardin to go to Manizales, Colombia, where I was really looking forward to taking a tour of the Hacienda Venecia coffee plantation. But first my self induced bad luck continued.
As I was packing up to leave Jardin I reached over my bike to do up the Rok Straps on the other side of my bike. As I was doing that the bike slowly started to fall over. I tried to stop it but the momentum and weight of the bike was too much. Over it went. The result was that my right side mirror snapped off. Crap! I am slowly learning to take these things in stride. I put the mirror in my top case and off I went.
Ride to Manizales
The main characteristic of the ride to Manizales was one construction roadblock after another. The process was always the same. I approached a line up of cars, and like all the other motorcyclist I weaved my way to the front to park next to the flag person.
Notice the police on the motorbike. This is typical all over Colombia, two cops on a 250cc motorbike.
Estelar El Cable Hotel
As usual, when I reached my hotel, Estelar El Cable Hotel, it started to rain. It was nice to get into a really nice hotel room with nice views.
One of the first things I did was take my phone out of the rice to see if it would now work. It had been in there for 2 days. Please work!!! It didn’t 🙁 The alarm does. And it seems to charge. But the screen doesn’t work. More money to spend when I get home 🙁 My luck continues.
Time for pizza and a sleep before the coffee plantation tour at 8:30 am the next day.
The Ride to Hacienda Venecia
The pick up point to catch a ride to the Hacienda Venecia was at the Mountain Hostel a few blocks from hotel. I was joined on the ride by a guy from Paris and a couple from London.
The couple from London were riding a tandem bicycle around Colombia!
The guy from Paris had a year Visa to stay in Colombia. He spent 3 months of it in Medellin studying Spanish. His class had 3 people in it and it was 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 3 months. Intense! He Spanish was really good though. I need to do something like that
We went along the same twisty road I rode to get to Manizales. It was a favorite of crotch rockets with riders wearing leathers. They raced around the corners.
Off the main road, along a dirt road, we finally made it to the Hacienda Venecia.
Hacienda Venecia Coffee Plantation Tour
I have to admit I never knew there was so much to coffee before taking this tour. We were joined by others who were staying at the plantation. They were from Greece, Switzerland, France, UK, and of course a few from Canada.
The first part of the tour was a classroom talk where we were served expresso.
Ok … I hope I get this right. We were first given a coffee cherry. The bean is inside. Our guide said that countries like Brazil, who have lots of sunshine, will dry the coffee bean with the coffee cherry. This gives it an unique taste.
If you pop the coffee bean out, there is a sweet film on the outside of the bean called mucilage. The bean can be dried with the mucilage and these are called honey beans.
In Colombia, however, there is too much rain so they remove the bean from the cherry and wash to mucilage off before drying the bean inside its shell. Colombian coffee is generally more expensive because this process is labour intensive.
Now this is what I found really weird. The coffee is then sold to a Colombian cooperative who sells the best beans to foreign buyers. The bad coffee is sold in Colombia! The guide said that if you have coffee in Colombia it is probably low quality! So I guess I have to go back to Canada to have good Colombian coffee ha ha.
We then headed out into the plantation, one of the largest in Colombia – 200 hectares.
I didn’t realize there are many different kinds of coffee plants. Some are for specialty coffees like Blue Mountain. Most of the plants in Hacienda Venecia are Arabica due to the climate.
Another thing that amazed me is that most of the coffee plants are grown on steep mountain slopes.
I have no idea how pickers climb then. Talk about tough work. And the beans are harvested every 20 days!
Crossing a stream was interesting.
The coffee plant nursery.
Beans drying on racks.
And in silos.
The beans in this picture are for foreign buyers.
The beans in this picture are for Colombians ha ha
We then headed to the main home. It is now used as a hotel.
The hacienda does some of their own roasting for tourist consumption. On a deck we were shown the various stages of roasting and got to smell and taste the beans.
Really interesting to smell and taste the green bean, medium roast bean, and the dark roast bean.
This took us to lunch and a typical Colombian meal.
The Trip Back
It was awesome talking to people over lunch and exchanging travel advice. The one thing I miss on my adventure moston my trip is socializing. I need to do more of these tours just for the socialization.
The guy from Paris and myself decided to take a truck back to the main road at 2 pm. Once there we would have to catch a bus back to the hotel. This wasn’t that easy. Thank goodness the French guy took the Spanish course. After some trial and error we made it back.
Just in time for the afternoon Seahawks game!