The coffee tour folks showed up right on time, and since I was staying on the north side of the Medellin, I was the last person they picked up. Our van needed new shocks, and we bottomed out a couple of times going over some bumps, but we made it up and over the hill. In the van were a group of Mexican/El Salvadorian-American guys from Las Vegas and a couple of girls from Germany, and they were fun. One bought one of every type of snack that a guy walking in the stop-and-go traffic was selling, and shared the haul, so we all got to try a bunch of things.
The coffee tour itself was an interesting experience. I’m not sure how long they’ve been doing it, but it seems like they need to work out some of the kinks, still. I later chatted with the girl doing the English translations and learned that this was only her second day doing this tour (which explained why she was not confident in her coffee explanations nor in horseback riding!) The main guy leading the tour (in Spanish) was great, though, and his English was pretty good. The Las Vegas guys helped explain some of the things to those who didn’t understand Spanish (or the rough tour-provided translations). Anyway, they told us a bit about the history of coffee growing in the area, as well as a bit about the picking & processing. We all got to pick a few beans by hand, and also check out the “almonds” inside. In addition to having the chance to taste the pulpy coating and the beans themselves, we were given some “mucilex” which was like a thick, sweet juice made from the pulp of the beans. We also got to see how they process the beans, and tried some coffee grown there.
After lunch (a “paisa” packet of rice, meats, and egg) we headed out for our horseback ride. They had a few horses, but mostly had mules for folks to ride. Many people had never been on a horse before, and even though I had, I found it pretty intense since the very first thing we did was to ride up a narrow, steep, slippery/muddy path, and the horses slipped a lot. Just ahead of me, a couple of horses/mules slipped, one of the riders fell off, one horse slipped into another, and it was pretty scary. A couple of people decided they weren’t interested in continuing (and frankly they probably made the smart choice) but the rest of us continued and there were no further incidents. I made sure to leave some space between my trusty mule and the one in front of me whenever we were dealing with steep terrain (it was tricky, though, since they wanted to be close together!)
We stopped by a river for a little break, and a couple of people took a dip in the water. Then it was back to the coffee place, back into the van, and back (very slowly, in heavy traffic) into town.