Posted by: jimndianne | November 29, 2009

Coffee beans, a waterfall and more!

29 November 2009 Mexico

Hey, hey, hey, it’s another day! At 9.15am we were collected from our hotel by our guide, Armando Lobato, who runs a private tourism and adventure business. This 052 young man has put together a number of tours, including Rafting, visits to Colonial Haciendas, various Archaeological Sites, a Coffee Bean Plantation and others. While some of you out there may speak Spanish, his English is excellent and you’re in good hands. A nice German woman joined us for his tour of the Coffee Bean Plantation & Museum, the Cascades Texolo Waterfall and the towns of Coatepec and Xico.

Within around half an hour we were out of Xalapa and in the countryside, which was very green and lush, as we were quite high up. The coffee bean plantation was a 044 small, family operation and the owner and his wife personally took us out to see their trees loaded with green and red beans. The beans can only be picked when they are a very dark red and the trees were much smaller than we had imagined. They also need to be grown under a canopy of much larger trees, which promotes a humid environment in order to produce the best beans, those of the strong, dark, Arabica type. In other areas, the Robusta bean is grown and does not need to grow under the cover of trees. We sampled some of the 050 coffee these people produce and it was delicious! The entire process of picking, washing and drying the beans was also shown to us. They have a Museum, also, where you can follow the history of coffee making and the machines used for that process. There was a chart on the wall showing the consumption of coffee per capita, worldwide, and it was interesting to note that Finland was at the top of the list, followed by the other Scandinavian countries. For full details, check out the photograph.

054A long, cobbled, downhill road took us a little time to negotiate by car in order to  reach the Cascades Texolo waterfall area but this was well worth the effort. The falls themselves are quite stunning, being around 80 metres high and in two separate drops. Our guide, Armando, told us that the falls were featured in the making of the film, “Romancing the Stone”, with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, made back in 1984. While we were there we noticed a group of people way down below us on the rocks near the pool itself and they were making a film also. These are very beautiful  falls and again, well worth the time visiting.

Leaving the falls, we passed by many banana plantations 068as well as a lot of coffee bean growing areas. Our next stop was in the town of Xico, where we were able to visit the Santa Maria Magdalena Cathedral, a very  beautiful building.  As it was Sunday, there were a large number of worshippers in the cathedral, many carrying a wreath of candles which the priest may have blessed. Upon leaving the cathedral, and by now feeling hungry, we bought food from the village ladies, who had set up a large tented cafe directly outside. We tried some empanadas stuffed with cheese, others with shredded beef and onion or with chicken. All were delicious. These were followed up with Churros, a kind of donut 060mixture, extruded through a 1.5mm  nozzle to produce a rod of dough about 12cm long which is then deep fried and finally dipped in sugar. They are really delicious and supposed to be even better when dipped in ice cream!

A visit to Coatepec, a town very close to Xalapa, was our final stop on the tour and where we had a brief walk through the town square, with its brightly coloured balloons and local jewellery for sale. A cup of the best local coffee was an obvious reason for being there, while our new German friend, Margot, had apple tea.

Once back in Xalapa, Armando kindly assisted us with the bookings for our bus journey to Mexico City before depositing us at our hotel and Margot to her friend’s home, where she was staying. It had been quite a full and informative day.

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