Onto our second day in La Fortuna..
This day we woke up later than normal, at 8:30AM, to a super cloudy day. As soon as we hit up breakfast at the Tres Cascadas the sun started to shine. We hung out at breakfast a long while, just soaking in all the beautiful surroundings. As we were joking around together, we decided that this was the perfect day to take advantage of the grounds of the resort then take an adventure in our car to find a chocolate farm we had researched before hand. We contacted the farm to make a reservation for 3PM. All was set.
The resort had the most awe-inspiring descending landscaping of pools along this mountain. The grounds were lush, the landscaping tranquil and the waterfalls a delight. The surroundings were meticulous in design, to say the least, keeping the natural feel of the rainforest. The part that was spectacular were the pools, they are fed directly from the thermal river of the Arenal Volcano, so they are naturally hot and mineralized. To keep integrity of the water, each night at closing the pools are drained, scrubbed, then refilled for 6AM, and they only offer one pool (the swim up bar one) chlorinated. The pools are situated in connecting trails, as I mentioned before, and they spill into one another to create varying degrees of waters. I just thought it was the coolest thing to notice, how they designed the pools to naturally be used and mixed with other waters to create these different temp pools. Functional beauty.
We spent most of our day swimming; watching the kids going up and down on the slide, trying out different stunts along with my husband. My husband might have loved it more than they did..ahem. But once we decided to relax together, which we did a lot this part of the trip, we spent time in the hot pools of the Perdido Springs area. This was the perfect spot because we could still watch the kids as we swam, cuddled and relaxed in the 99F waters. Utter paradise. But after about two hours of relaxing, we started to experience rain. Rain, hah..it was a deluge! We started feeling a light drizzle, that stopped. Then we felt a light rain, that stopped. Then we felt large drops of rain, that didn’t stop, but turned into a huge rainstorm! The girls ran up to us in the pools, then we took some shelter in the tiki bar, but that didn’t last long.. duh we were swimming! haha We all got into the hot pool and then the rain stopped just as fast as it started. Super cool.
Side note .. The warmth and minerals of the pools are not only therapeutic and relaxing, but to me, they had such a beautiful scent, too. My husband smelled it too, but I don’t know if this is a thing. The scent of the waters were dreamy; like a clean cologne. It made me so happy swimming around smelling so good. I am smiling just thinking about the scent..gah I miss this place!! 😦
Ok, so back to the trip!
Then we dragged ourselves out of the pools to get ready for the afternoon. I wasn’t really sure what we had in store so I made sure everyone dressed as comfortable as possible.. sneakers, shorts, and bring a rain poncho in case! The farm was located about 25 minutes away from our resort, not a bad drive at all since most everything is one straight shot through the center of La Fortuna. We found the residential area to be totally different from the downtown area. Lots of dirt roads, houses congregated together in a pod like formation with roads surrounding them. We found the chocolate farm, Don Olivo Chocolate Farm.
I LOVED IT!
This was a family farm, not a commercialized place. Super rustic with the drive way flanked with colorful carved trees and a quaint flat yellow house centrally located. This place was full of fruiting trees and wildlife.
Quickly we were greeted by the abuelo of the family. He greeted us so enthusiastically, telling us his son would be right with us. Super cute older man. We got to looking around a few minutes, and met the family German shepherds. The grounds reminded me of a version of campagna (the countryside) in Sicily, not the look but the vibe. Almost everyone in Sicily owns a family farm, a second countryside home. Some small. Some large. They grow so many things on their farms for their day to day lives, and they use the farms during vacations, holiday weekends, and some like to live there all Summer long to get out of the city.
The farm owner came out to greet us, all smiles, beaming in English. Very sweet guy. As he is talking to us about his farm, cutting down fruits from the trees to have us eat them ripe, another family shows up, unexpectedly, to take a tour, too! So we went on to the tour together. The farmer takes us on a tour of his fruiting trees, and like I said, he was literally talking and cutting stuff down for us to try them. Then a minute later, his father would come over with a machete slicing more fruit for us. It was awesome. We got to try star fruit, papaya, soursop, mango, green coconut water, peppercorns, spearmint, and so much more I can’t think straight. After we toured the front part of the grounds, he took us to his house’s porch to talk about sugar cane. He showed us how you take the stalk, beat it to loosen the fibers, then squeeze it to extract the juice. We tried it over ice, and it was yummy. Then because my husband loves rum, the conversation of rum came up and the father went into his private stash to let us adults take a shot of rum.
WOAH. I mixed mine with the sugar cane juice cause it was potent. haha
From here, the group was guided to the cocoa tree grove. A grove with a thousand trees! We learned so much about the history of the cocoa trees, amazing and ugly cocoa! hah We were then taken along the stages of the cocoa pods to cocoa beans to chocolate. As we were walking the rain came, but it wasn’t a big deal. It lasted a few minutes then the sun came out. Didn’t stop us from seeing all the trees full of cocoa pods. The pods grow in a few colors, brown, purple and yellow, but the pods inside are the same. The farmer grabbed one right off the tree, a yellow one, and smashed it open. We were allowed to try a piece of the interior fruit, which were white gelatinous blobs (to me, tasted floral and bland), these were raw cocoa beans. The cool part was the bite of one showed this vibrant purple color inside. The farmer then walked us over to his backyard covered patio, it was the coolest spot, where he showed us the process going forward
After the pods were opened, the beans are taken out and fermented for 5 days in a barrel. From this fermentation the pods turn brown, and they smell horrible! haha Then they need to be dried out in the sun/dry place for 15-20 days. He had a greenhouse full of drying beans we got to walk into, touch them and smell them. The beans are then husked by hand here. He had a large wooden mortar and pestle he uses to bang up the skins, then the breezes of the area naturally whisks the husks away. Then there is only the bean left, which is then ground by hand, which we all had a crack at doing. Then this ground cocoa is at the stage to be made into chocolate however you like!
It was so fun!!
The farmer had set up two large farm tables for us to enjoy some chocolate inside the patio. There were mugs, spoons, homemade sugar in the raw and cookies. His father cooked up hot cocoa for everyone with the grounds we all participated in grinding, and let us sample fresh 90% dark cocoa chocolates he made. YUM! The hot cocoa was delicious. Soooo rich and good! I could only take a few sips. Then afterwards his daughter came out with his wife, and we got to hang out together, talk and get to know what the culture of Costa Rica was really like. I LOVE TALKING TO LOCAL PEOPLE! The farmer’s daughter was so sweet. My gosh. She wouldn’t leave me alone, it was so cute. She pulled up her bunny chair next to me, talking and talking and talking. We exchanged a lot of Spanish together, and her mom. She was almost 3, but her personality was beyond her years. What a funny kid. She was so upset I had to leave. Good people there. So glad we went.
Then after we left there, we traveled to go eat in the center of La Fortuna at a chicken rotisserie place we researched, Pollo Fortuneno. We were happy to see it was right smack dab in the middle of the town as we drove in. We parked the car, went a little souvenir shopping, then made a bee line right to eat. The restaurant didn’t have a lot of tables, about 10 in total. We grabbed one of the large, grass thatched tables out front, and so glad for that luck! Because in minutes the place was chock full and a line started to form… I overheard one woman say that there was over an hour wait!!
AND THEN THE HEAVENS OPENED UP, ANOTHER DELUGE!! HOLY MOTHER OF WATER! Then again, as soon as it started it was over!
Thank goodness for the umbrella over the table!
The restaurant was a lot of fun. It is situated on a corner, with their large stacked rotisserie facing the street on a platform for show. It was the coolest thing to watch, all engulfed in flames, mesmerizing. The staff going up there to grab chickens was like some show. We ordered a few fun items, like chalupas, patacones, rosemary oil papas fritas, rotisserie chicken and pork ribs….can we say DeLiCiOuS!?! We had such a great time dining there. The wait for food was long, but that isn’t a complaint, more of a FYI. I personally love hanging out for a long time, no rush here! Bonus, we were allowed to bring our own beer and sangria, which was great. We left there happy and full.
Another great day spent in paradise. 🙂
Next up…our last full day in La Fortuna!