Hola familia y amigas! This is Celia and Sofia reporting to you all after a muy divertido day!
We started our day at 7:16 woken by the cheerful chorus of the jungle insects, animals, and birds. This was after Cabin Criollo’s (Gabby, Ella, Sam, Sofia, Celia, and Katherine) experience with a “werewolf” that we heard the previous night. Cabin Criollo then trekked down to breakfast in our pjs- Ella sported her iconic High School Musical pajama ensemble. Our wonderful breakfast, made by the incredible staff here at Finca la Anita, consisted of scrambled eggs, rice and beans, fresh papaya/pineapple/cantaloupe, yogurt, as well as a surprisingly tasty toast with homemade marmalade topped with cocoa nibs. We washed it all down with a mystery pink juice (which was delicioso) and Costa Rica’s famous coffee- coffee lovers and non-lovers enjoyed the smooth and sweet blend.
After our breakfast and some free time spent in our cabins, we went down to The Deck for our Chocolate Tour!!!!!!! This was led by Pablo, one of the owners of the ranch. First we learned about the history of chocolate, including the word itself. We learned that most chocolate that we consume is not the real deal. At Finca la Anita they grow Criollo cacao beans for the purest form of chocolate- it’s dark but not bitter. We then tried an old Mexican chocolate drink concoction. It was textured and tasted slightly hot due to chili powder. While enjoying this, we were entertained by a crab trying to steal our cacao beans! All in all, most thought it was delicious and asked for seconds. Then we tried Anitella- the ranch’s healthier version of nutella, created for the owner’s kids. It was fudgy and “tasted like the rainforest!” (@Celia) and many are planning to bring some home. The fun continued with the professional tasting techniques (and accompanying sounds) of two truffles- the ‘Costa Rica’ had pineapple and coconut, while the ‘California’ was filled with almonds and raisins. These were made on the ranch in the Chocolate Lab. We finished our tour with samples of dark chocolate, customizable with different toppings. We then explored the fields where cacao beans are grown, fermented, and dried. Pablo hacked open a Criollo fruit where we could tasted the beans inside- they were covered with a juice that tasted just like mangoes. Between the chocolate and the coffee, we were bouncing off the trees!
We helped make part of the lunch today- Pablo showed us how to make a heart of palm salad, using a machete to prepare the heart of palm! Sadly, the students didn’t get to experience this part of the salad making. We ate the salad with taro chips, followed by rice, beans, pork, and vegetables. There were mixed feelings about the ginger lemonade but the authors of this post truly found it scrumptious.
After lunch we had another break, which was filled with a “hike” to the local market. We cooled down with ice cream and processed sugary drinks not served at Finca la Anita 🙂
We got down to business with a science lecture and mini experiments led by Andy, a professor at Oregon State. We were asked to design experiments with bacteria, to practice the scientific method. We were excited to use fancy swabs, petri dishes and parafilm! We dived into the treacherous wild armed with these tools and abandoned the designated paths. We will keep you posted with results (if the next authors remember ;))
Dinner was once again amazing, with chicken, vegetables, mashed potatoes, squash soup, and a mystery juice (we actually asked but forgot the name of the fruit). We ended with dessert- carmelized plantains topped with ice cream. Even those who weren’t big fans of plantains admitted to liking this.
Some of us relaxed in hammocks and chatted before our last task for the day. Andy led us in another lecture in The Classroom, now about our besties, the leaf cutter ants! Memories were refreshed from our previous classes with Dr. Boldt, and we loved the dorky but educational videos. However, The Classroom has gotten a bad reputation for bugs. George and Sofia both got up close and personal with some moths- and don’t forget about the spider that traumatized Sam. These are the only experiences in Costa Rica that we wish to forget.
We are looking forward to our ziplining adventure and ant colony digging tomorrow!
Buenos noches del paraiso- look forward to pictures of our Costa Crew, our fabulous meals, and the ranch!
We don’t quite miss you yet, Celia & Sofia