Guatemalan Coffee Tour and our trip across the Honduran Border
Copan Travel Blog› entry 11 of 20 › view all entries
July 19th, 2009 – by: sophiewil24
When we had been looking around town for travel connections, we had seen that many of the travel agents had been offering tours to local coffee plantations. We decided that this would be a good way to spend an afternoon, so we decided to set about doing this. This was easier said than done. First of all we had to decide between the two tours that were on offer: one for approx $20 went to a bigger plantation and had a more extensive tour than another one that was offered for $8. We initially decided to go on the latter, just because it was cheaper and seemed to do the same thing but to a smaller plantation, but all of the tour operators either didn´t offer it, decided that they didn´t want to offer it today as it was a national holiday, and some were just (understandably) trying to push the more expensive one.
We then had a mad panic rush, as we needed to go to the other end of town to find the only ATM in the city which would dispense dollars to us (as we didn´t want to have to pay the exchange rate twice by getting Quetzales, and then having to change them on the border), so by the time we had done this and got back to our hostel, it was past 1pm, and our we were meant to be at the main square (5-10minutes walk away) at 1.15pm for a 1.20pm departure!! To make matters worse, by the time we made it to our allotted meeting place, because of the ´national holiday´ there was a big stage set up and the road was blocked off just where we were meant to be getting our jeep from.
The tour to this plantation was definately worth it, as well as being extremely well organised, we were lucky that there were only 3 english-speakers among us (one other girl from Maryland), so we had our own private tour good, who was extremely good. The tour was fascinating - I had literally no clue how coffee was harvested or grown, and didn´t even realise what a coffee bush looked like! We were transported into the plantation and told all about told about the two different types of coffee bean-robusta and arabica, and how becuase at this plantation they grow Arabica, but the soil had nematode worms in which killed arabica but not robusta, they grow robusta stalks for 6 weeks or so, and then hire 7 women who transplant arabica stalks into the robusta roots, so that they can grow in the soil.
We learnt about the different layers of the bean before being transported back to the factory, and shown how they were split into their consituent parts, dried and prepared to be exported. This company produced ´Dalton Coffee´- 85% of which is exported to Starbucks in the USA and 15% of which stays in Guatemala to be sold by local businesses. To round off the excellent tour, we sat down with our tour guide at one of the restaurants tables and drank a cup of their own coffee. It was probably the most civilised moment of our trip so far! So all in all, the tour was well worth the money we paid for it, and really interesting!
The wierdest thing happened when we got back to Antigua.
We bought our tickets for $12, as we had decided to split up the journey in this way by travelling the 6 hours to Copan, staying the night, and then travelling the further 7 hours to La Ceiba to get our ferry to Utila the next day.
We headed to be fairly early to finish our packing and get to bed, as we had a 4am bus to catch this morning. The ride was actually fine. Being picked up from our hostel first, Rusty and I managed to get the comfier front row seats with slightly more legroom before the other passengers got on. Our minibus wasn´t too busy in the end, there were only 7 of us I think. The journey was very undramatic and the border crossing was quick and easy. The only slight concern came when, 5 minutes into Honduras, our minibus was flagged down to stop by a vehicle on the other side of the road and a man opened our minibus and got in and sat down next to me. It was my overactive imagination that was my only enemy in the end, as it turned out he was just an over-friendly local who wanted to tell us about Copan and where the best places to stay were (or where he got the best commission I managed). We stuck to our rough guide recommendations though and went for the budget option of Los Gemelos ($10 per room per night) which is perfect.
We´ll hopefully be getting on another early bus tomorrow morning, to take us to the ferry at La Ceiba.
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