☁⛅☁Got my head in the clouds ☁⛅☁

Today we almost died driving up the side of a mountain in a big bus on a gravel road all the way up to Monteverde. We are staying in bungalows with no air conditioning tonight. I'll be sleeping in a bunk bed. I'm actually pretty excited to have this "one with nature" type of experience. When we got here, we were able to settle down and learn about the campus we are staying on. This campus studies the rainforest and natural ways to protect it. One of the interesting things I found out it that they use a "sewer system" that breaks down waste and turns it into methane gas which is what they use to cook our meals. We also have to be very conscientious about how much food we waste. Once filling your plate, whatever you don't eat you have to scrape it collectively  into a large bowl and it is then fed to their animals. All the fruit, juice, and meat is from their resources from their land. The food is DELICIOUS!

After eating, we went on a five mile hike to visit two businesses in the valley. One was called La Bella Tica Coffee and it is grown on their property. We went to the farm first, where we got to see the coffee trees and learned about how their coffee is harvested. We learned that it is all done by hand, the berries are picked and placed into a 1x1x1 ft box. For every box, you earn 1,000 colones, which is around two U.S. dollars per box.  The outer layer of the berry is sweet and is popular among animals of the area, and can be used to make a sweet liqueur or rum. The bean inside the berry is very bitter. After visiting the farm, we went to the place where the coffee is roasted. There were multiple ways to sperate the berry from the bean, one was by machine and the other was by hand. One interesting thing I learned is the longer that the bean is roasted, the darker the roast will be. I also learned that a medium roast has more caffeine than dark roast because the longer you roast the bean, the more caffeine is cooked out of it.
We then got to see the way the coffee was packaged and even got to try it in the man's home. It was RICH. absolutely amazing. He had many coffee bags available for sale and you can buy it online.

Everything is handmade here. The baskets they put the coffee berries in, to the soap that is manufactured in the valley. The next business we hiked to was a little farther up the mountain. It was called Monteverde Natural Cosmetics. You can also buy this online from Amazon. This company makes soaps, lotions, and scrubs (for now). They are hoping to soon make sunscreen, shampoo and conditioner. They built the building that they cook all the ingredients in and it is done by hand. All of their scents come from extracts from their flowers. They said just about the only thing that they cannot make themselves is the olive oil that is needed for the soap. They cooked it to 60 degrees Celsius and then showed us how they pour the mixture into the box to cool. Once they pour the base of the soap, they then added vanilla for scent. Bees came from EVERYWHERE. They went away as the box was screwed shut. After 24 hrs of cooling, the soap is brought into storage and then it stays there for one month to finish cooling down. After one month, it is packaged and sold.

Both businesses are local, organic, and very low on carbon footprint. Both only sell go locals. Both sell their products online.

After doing this, we hiked down the mountain (super slippery) and made it back to campus.

The coffee company was all natural, everything was done by hand from plant to coffee grinds. The soap company dealt with some chemicals like sodium hydroxide. Both products had to be cooked in some way.
It was a productive day today, and one heck of a leg day. It's about dinner time so I'm about to head down to the loft. After that, I'm going on a night time hike to see some of the rainforest animals!

Pura Vida! Adios!

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