On Sunday we arranged to go for a horse back tour of the local coffee plantation in San Juan. We arrived at ‘El Rancho’ in the morning and watched the horses get saddled up for us. Steve had ‘Chocolate’ and Emma had ‘Princessa’. All of the horses are female as they make for more gentle ‘tour’ horses and they are not worried about loud noise or traffic.
Our tour took us through the centre of town where everyone stopped to stare and even wave as we passed! Most of the ground was paved or dusty gravel and we even ended up on the only dual carriageway in the area!!
The scenery was spectacular and we were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day. It took roughly an hour to trek over to the plantation where we climbed higher and higher and higher… The plantation itself is owned in lots of smaller plots by families who have to come and pick all of the beans by hand. They get a much better deal selling their smaller bean harvests to a cooperative in the town. Most of the money comes from tourism as coffee bean prices are just so low compared to 20 years ago.
During the tour we stopped at the cooperative coffee shop to buy some of these handpicked beans and stop for a drink! A few doors up the road we also found a chocolate shop where they handpick cocoa beans and make completely natural chocolate to sell. The content is 70% cocoa (the other 30% made up from sugar and whichever ingredient you choose!). They have cinnamon, mint, orange, almond, milk and even chili! San Juan is a really small village but set against a beautiful backdrop of the hills and forests. We tied the horses up outside the local church while we browsed the shops.
After a round trip of 3 hours on horseback, it was time for a well earned drink – all round!