El Toledo Coffee Tour

Costa Rica is famous for its coffee (and who doesn’t love a little pick me up?), so of course we had to do a coffee tour when mom and dad were in town. There is an excellent organic coffee producer in the Atenas area called El Toledo so we signed up for a tour and lunch. We did this back in December and I had meant to write about it then, but somehow life got in the way.  Anyways, it was a pretty cool experience.

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El Toledo is a family run coffee farm and our tour was given by Gabriel who works together with family on the farm. He first spoke with us a bit about organic farming and how important it is to keep in mind that all living things are interconnected and that using chemicals or depending on only one product is harmful for the environment and for the future success of the farm and therefore the family’s livelihood. img_2950
Their family seems to be very progressive and throughout the years, they have made adjustments and major changes to the way they farm their land. From using chemicals to going organic and from only growing coffee to diversifying their crops.

We first had fun with a taste test of the different coffee roasts which they made using the traditional Costa Rican chorreador (hot water poured over the grounds which then drips into the cup below) method. img_2949We blind tasted the light, medium and dark roast and tried to guess which was which. It seemed that almost all of us preferred the dark roast, while he explained that the light and medium roasts offer much more complexities in flavor whereas the dark is easier to produce as it is less complex. We also learned how many things affect the flavor when making coffee such as the temperature of the water, if the grounds are fine or more course, the amount of water versus coffee grounds, and how long the coffee brews.

Gabriel’s father was roasting beans in their retro roaster which is a pretty cool machine! It was quite a process and he seemed to just know what the the right temperature should be and when the beans were ready to be taken out of the roaster and cooled depending on which roast he was going for.

We then took a walk through the farm. We were lucky to do the tour just as they were starting to harvest the beans so the coffee plants were ready to be picked, which is all done by hand. Gabriel also pointed out many other plants and trees of interest on the farm and we all learned a ton about farming in Costa Rica.

After our little walk through the farm, we ended up back at the farmhouse for a yummy typical casado lunch and some time to relax…or play and be crazy as was the case for Oscar and Alice.

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Photos from around Atenas

We are really loving our new town as we get to know it better each day. We are located in the Central Valley (picture rolling hills, green mountains, coffee plantations and small towns) about 30 minutes west of the airport and 45 minutes west of San José. Atenas is known for supposedly having the best climate as it’s typically around 80 every day and in the upper 60s at night.

The church
Playground in the main parque
Typical colonial building

Views from near our current house
Weekly feria

And We’re Off!

Let’s do this! We visited our storage unit on Sunday for one last drop off of a few boxes, and then finished packing our bags and making the final decisions about what was or was not going to make the cut.  At this point, anything that didn’t fit would be put on the curb.  Amazingly, I feel we did a pretty good job of the final packing and we still cannot believe how smooth the travel day went despite having had to change our flights through Houston one day before we flew due to Hurricane Harvey.  That just kept things exciting!  🙂

We flew American and used curbside check-in which was a dream with our friendly airline representative – we were totally ‘those’ people at the airport and you wonder where in the world are they going and for how long?  We had 6 checked bags plus a pack n play, 2 car seats and 6 carry-on bags!  Our flights were on time, got put to the front of the line at immigration (thanks to Alice and Oscar for that one) upon our arrival into San Jose and we grabbed a porter as soon as we got to the baggage area.  Our bags were already waiting for us, and we quickly hooked up with our transfer driver to get us to our AirBnB about 30 minutes away.  It was already dark, but we were greeted by our friendly host Forest and by 8:30pm, we were settling in our new home where we’ll be for the next month.

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One last visit to our 10′ x 25′ storage unit. bye bye stuff.
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Getting ready to head to the airport. Toys all packed or in storage = luggage fort

 

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Logan airport: whatever it takes – iPads and ‘mimis’

And this is what the next morning brought us…

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What a sunrise view – mountains, palm trees and beautiful skies
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Ring pops at 5:30am- special thanks to Lila!
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Our cute light-filled casita

Now to start exploring and let the adventure REALLY begin!

First Impressions

Hey all, so this is our first post about our upcoming adventure. So Palmer and I have decided to quit our jobs and sell our house in the Boston area, and move our family (Oscar is almost 5 and Alice is 2) to Costa Rica for a year.  Whoa…a little crazy, right?  I thought so too at first, but it’s now so exciting and we’re well on our way to making it all happen.  The countdown is on as we leave in just 11 days! Pretty surreal.

We first discovered Costa Rica as a family for a short visit in January 2017.  We spent some time checking out some authentic Tico towns in the Central Valley before heading to the Pacific Coast and exploring Manuel Antonio National Park. What an amazing few days it was – from unique mountain towns surrounded by coffee and banana plantations and beautiful vistas at every turn to the warm waters of the coast with forests filled with monkeys, sloths and scarlet macaws.  This experience confirmed our decision that Costa Rica was definitely the place where we wanted to spend at least a year being immersed in a new culture, spending more time together as a family and slowing down the pace of our hectic lives. It was of course just a short vacation, but we are so excited to experience a deeper connection, improve our Spanish, watch the kids grow and be part of a different culture, and be active members of a local community.  See below a bunch of photos from our exploratory trip.  Stay tuned for what we’ve done since January to prepare for taking the big leap!