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*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Mule Tour

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DSCN3086eIt was Sunday morning, Palm Sunday, and we awoke from an excellent night of sleep —if I disregard the one moment of waking before dawn in total disorientation about where I was.

It was a gorgeous looking day outside and we marveled over the minute-by-minute changes in cloud formations that appeared around the cone of the volcano visible from the balcony of our room at the Filadelphia Coffee Resort. The accommodations were exceptional. I was glad we had taken a swim in that pool the night before, because it was looking irresistible in the morning, but there was no time for it at that point.

The view out the door of our rooms looked over the coffee production facility, with drying beans spread in decorative patterns on the ground.

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Our plan was to pack up the car and check out of our rooms after breakfast, then walk to a mule tour of the coffee plantation. When Jose came out of his room, he persuaded me to join him in a little ping-pong until everyone else was ready to go. That was a good way to get the blood flowing. At breakfast, since I’m not a coffee drinker, I went for the next best thing: hot chocolate. It looked so good, I took a picture. It was good.

DSCN3097eDSC03952eThe mule tour turned out to be more horses than mules, because most of their mules were being given a day off after being worked too much. That was okay with me, especially as my horse was very cooperative. The horse that Dunia was on was a little more feisty and when it took to kicking to claim some space, Jose’s foot was in the way of the kick. Things settled down after that and we plodded along, taking in the sights of the short coffee bushes growing among the taller shade trees that protect them.

After 8 or 9 years, I think it was, they replace the plants with new ones, so they have a very extensive nursery of new starters ready to go. I tended to lose focus of details when the guide described the different flavors and bitter vs. sweetness of the coffee beans from different regions, since I’m not a coffee fan, but overall it was a fascinating and rewarding thing to see.DSC03947e

The “tour” was not very formal, and it seemed the best way to get information from our guide was to get close enough to ask questions. Toward the end, after learning some fascinating things about the business of growing coffee, I had a nice one-on-one visit with the guide as he inquired about details of our Wintervale Ranch and I learned of his broad ranging work experience and current plan to become a barista, maybe someday opening a coffee shop of his own.

I was a little wobbly when I got out of the saddle and landed on the ground again, but was no worse for the wear in the long run.

Visiting a coffee plantation was almost enough to entice me to want to start liking coffee, but only almost. I think I’ll stay with my preference for hot chocolate or chai.

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Written by johnwhays

April 15, 2015 at 6:00 am

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