Our tour continued after the Doka Coffee Plantation. Oscar, our driver drove us an hour to the La Paz Waterfall Garden and Nature Preserve. Originally, we were all excited about the waterfall tour, but as we entered the facility, our interests quickly shifted to the animals.
The tour started in the bird aviary where toucans, pavas, scarlet macaws, grosbeaks, and many others fly freely. This aviary is a refuge for wild birds that have either been captured illegally by hunters and confiscated by the government or donated by owners. Many of the birds lack the basic skills to survive and the wild on their own.
La Paz Water Garden and Nature Preserve
Is an enclosed structure that allows over 20 different species of butterflies to soar freely. We mostly saw the blue monarchs, but they were all gorgeous.
Butterflies surrounding me with joy
There were an assortment of breath taking flora around the park as well.
Flora at La Paz
La Paz boasted of a monkey, hummingbird, and snake sanctuaries as well. The monkeys were just not as exciting as the ones we met in the wild, but still fun. The hummingbird Garden was beautiful and offered a rare chance to see these skittish creatures in front of your face.
Can you see the beautiful green breasted hummingbird below?
Beautiful Hummingbird Enjoying Nectar
Casita De la Paz
Is a reproduction built using only the tools available to the average farmer a century ago. Inside they offered fresh cow milk cheese and hot tea. Matt joined me for a photo op with an ox-driven cart, even though we passed on the joy ride.
Casita La Paz
One of my favorite stops was the jungle cat exhibit. This is the newest exhibit and it is considering temporary at the moment. We saw Ocelots, jaguardundi and Margays.
Big Cats at La Paz Sanctuary
Monica and Oscar took the van and drove around to the bottom of the falls where they met us after our hike. The walk down the waterfalls was a 45 minute walk down hundreds of stairs which would have been too challenging for Monica.
As Matt and I began our descent, we quickly came across the first waterfall called Magia Blanca Waterfall which was 120’ tall. This trail took us through the La Paz river along the rainforest showing the diversity of the plant and wildlife.
The other two waterfalls are Encantada Waterfall at 65’ and Escondida Waterfall at 10’. They were beautiful and refreshing. We had a little fun with each of them.
Waterfalls at La Paz
It had been a really long day. It took us 2 hours to drive back into town where Oscar dropped Matt and I off at La Puesta Del Sol and took Monica back to Croc’s. We had a quick beverage, caught our water taxi back to the boat and were unpacking as another boat stopped by.
Manu Kai is a beautiful 56’ catamaran that is part of the Panama Posse. They invited us over for a cold drink to share stories. Super nice family, Thor and Tanya with a 16 year old son, Tristan and 12 year old daughter Sienna.
All Day Tour Included:
Transportation (2.5 hours each way)
Doka Coffee Plantation
La Paz Water Garden and Nature Preserve
Stop at a tienda to buy fresh strawberries, local cheese, and blackberries
We decided to take another land tour while Monica was visiting. It is so fun because she is so awesome and up for anything. We selected an all day tour set up by the resort that takes you to the Doka Coffee Plantation.
Our driver and guide, Oscar picked us up at 645am, we drove for 30-45 minutes, and stopped for a superb and very large breakfast. Our next stop was the Doka Coffee Plantation which was another 90 minutes away. It was really lovely to see the interior of Costa Rica with its rich and lush trees, plants, and fields. We passed by a milk plantation, several rice fields, coconut fields, and palm tree plantations.
Doka Coffee Plantation
Our Coffee guide was incredibly informative as he took us through the growing of the coffee plants through the entire bean process. This plantation and all coffee plantations in Costa Rica only grow the arabica coffee bean. They do not grow the robusta coffee bean as they believe it to be an inferior bean. This is mandated by the Costa Rica Government and is a law.
Image. Top Row: Entrance to Doka and Proud Doka Signs. Middle Row: Guide with Matt and Monica and baby coffee bean sprouts. Bottom Row: Bean plants at 1 year, tiny coffee beans on plants, and the coffee plant at 4 years.
Doka Coffee Plantation
This plantation is a family business and consumes 190 hectares of land. Costa Rica is broken into 8 coffee growing regions which grow different flavors based on the soil, weather, elevation, temperature, etc…Doka is in the Central Valley Region which is about 140 meters above sea level and grows their beans in a volcanic soil.
GROWING A COFFEE BEAN:
One bean makes one plant. The bean is planted and kept in a nursery for 3 months. Then it is replanted in a pot where it will grow for 1 year. After 1 year, they will replant it in the coffee plantation where it will grow for an additional 3 years before it is harvested. Plants are harvested once per year starting in late October through early February. They will continue to harvest the plants for 20-25 years and then they will cut them down and replant new plants. However, every aspect of the coffee been plant will be reused at the plantation.
The Coffee plants flower in March at the start of rainy season and they smell like jasmine. These flowers must be picked within 3 days as they self-pollinate. Many companies come to pick the flowers to turn them into perfumes and body lotions. Once picked, the fruits appear at the same spot where the flowers once grew. After the fruit appears, it needs 4-5 months to turn red, or ripen.
PICKERS AND THE GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT:
When the fruits or beans are ripe, Doka will bring in 180-190 pickers. About 80% of the pickers are from Nicaragua, 10% from Panama and 10% local Ticos. Since the vast majority of them are from out of the country, Doka will pay to transport the picker and their family, pay for housing and utilities, transport to and from work and insurance while working. Not all plantations are this generous.
The Costa Rican Government mandates the pay for all pickers. You can pay your workers, more but you cannot pay them less. The pickers fill cajuelas and are paid by cajuela. Each cajuela is worth 1000 colones according to the government. But, Doka pays them 1200 colones per cajuela. Most workers can fill 15 cajuelas per day average about $30-$35.
PROCESSING THE BEANS:
Station 1:Wet Mill
Once the beans are picked they are placed in a wet mill powered 100% by water. It is the oldest working wet mill in the country and has been operating for over 100 years. The workers put their cajuelas into the receiving bin which is called a fanejua. The fanejua holds about 20 cajuelas. The fanejua will then dump the beans into the wet mill where the good beans will sink and the not so good beans will float. The beans are separated into 3 qualities: premium, good, and not so good.
Station 2: Peeling
The second station has two sets of grinders that peel the skin off the beans while maintaining the separation of quality beans. Once the skins are removed, the beans are moved on to station 3.
Station 3: Fermenting
All the beans are moved to the fermentation station, each in their own separate chamber. It takes 36 hours to remove the sugar and prepare the beans for drying.
Station 4: Drying
The premium beans are placed outside on the drying station and left out to dry in the sun for 5 days. They are turned every 15 minutes to ensure even drying. The good and not so good beans are dried outside for 1 day and then sent to the ovens to dry for a few hours. The taste is not as good when the beans are dried in the ovens.
Station 5: Storage
The premium beans are then stored into bags. One Fanejua (or 20 cajuelas) are placed into 1 bag which is 100 pounds. The beans will then be aged for another 3-4 months, inside the bags, inside the storage room.
Image Below: Top Row: Station 1, 2 and 3 (left to right). Middle Row: Station 4 and 5 and image of storage bag. Bottom Row: 3 qualities of beans with premium at top, drying station and final beans.
Doka Coffee Bean Processing
A batch of premium beans are sent to Germany to be remove the caffeine. The German company uses a Swiss water dehydration process to create decaffeinated beans. Doka only pays for shipping each way as the German company resells the caffeine to other companies such as Coca Cola and Red Bull.
The premium beans are sold under their brand name Café Tres Generaciones. The good beans are used by Doka for their blends. However, the 3rd quality beans are sold to other companies who don’t grow their own beans to roast and sell under a different brand name.
Flora at Doka Coffee Plantation
In addition to the coffee plants, Doka had a variety of stunning flowers can be found all around the coffee plantation. I had a field day trying to capture them all while remaining a part of the group.
Doka Coffee Plantation Flora
You could also visit their butterfly sanctuary and bonsai gardens. Most noteworthy, was the abundance of the blue monarchs.
Butterfly Sanctuary at Doka
Coming up Next:
Continuation of our tour to La Paz Waterfall Garden and Nature Preserve
Matt’s mom, Monica came to visit us in Costa Rica and stayed at the very nice Croc’s Casino Beach Resort around the bay from us. It was easier for her to stay on land as it’s not easy to get on and off our boat and we had no easy way to get her on and off the dinghy from shore. Croc’s offers creature comforts that we don’t have, a pool, casino, spa, and access to many land-based tours. As a result, we all took advantage of the beautiful pool and some good eateries at the resort.
Croc’s Casino Beach Resort Pool
Croc’s has taken in two rescued crocodiles from the wild and has a team of professionals caring for them. Paco and Luna were out sunning themselves regularly.
Paco and Luna Crocs at Croc’s Casino and Beach Resort
Croc’s is located at JacoBeach (pronounced Haco) and there are no anchorages in this bay. So, we anchored Sugar Shack at Bahia Herradura, the next bay over. It is a quick 8-minute cab ride or 30-minute bus ride to Croc’s. The only problem is that the water taxi that we take to get from our boat to shore only runs until 1730 at night so we cannot stay ashore for dinner, drinks or evening activities as we would have no way to get back to the boat. In essence, a minor setback.
Monkey Mangrove Tour
After we spent a day at the pool, we decided to take a Monkey Mangrove Tour. Our tour guide, Crazy Alex was absolutely AMAZING! He was able to replicate all of the bird calls, monkey sounds and lizard noises. Half the time you didn’t know if it was him or the real animal he was so good. He educated us on all of the flora, fauna, river, and islands. It was a constant chatter of humor, information, and wildlife.
Below is a photo of Crazy Alex along with his favorite American Pigmy King Fisher and a Yellow Belly Grey Kiskadine.
Monkey Mangrove Tour with Crazy Alex
He guided us along the Paquita river which consisted of 14k acres of mangroves. The river was pretty narrow and covered with a canopy of trees. The river banks were full of wildlife and birds.
Birds, Birds, and More Birds
Image below: Top Row: 2 images of river, and a shot of a Tiger Heron. Middle Row: Crazy Alex’s favorite bird an American Pigmy Kingfisher, a Yellow Belly Grey Kiskadee (part of the fry catcher family) and a shy iguana. Bottom Row: Three varieties of ginger flowers.
River and Bird Wildlife
Jesus Christ Lizard
We saw several Jesus Christ Lizards that can walk on water for over 60’. They are super funny to see scramble across the water and actually look like prehistoric dinosaurs.
Jesus Christ Lizard
The river spilled out onto a bay surrounded by mangroves. Crazy Alex nestled the boat inside a nook within the mangrove and we were instantly blessed with 3-4 white face Capuchin monkey family. Of course, they all had names and came when Crazy Alex called out to them. They were delightful and so sweet.
White Face Capuchin Monkeys
We each had an opportunity to be a human throne for the monkeys where they jumped on our heads and at banana from our hand. They were remarkably gentle. This particular family has claimed about 2 hectares of territory and protect it fiercely. They drink water by dipping their tail into the bay. Since it is brackish water, the salt falls off their tail while the fresh water clings to their hair.
Who is playing with who?
We saw one 3 toed sloth ashore. The photo did not come out too well, but Crazy Alex told us all about them. They have 3 stomachs (along with 3 toes), eat 200 grams of leaves per day (110 calories) and only come down from the trees once a week to do “their business.”
The males (have a black stripe down their back) emit a strange smell and holler to attract females during mating season which can last up to 48 hours. The females decide when to become pregnant and they determine the sex.
Lunch at Jaco
It was a spectacular tour, full of laughter, information, and wildlife. We loved it. Afterwards, we walked around the town of Jaco and ended up having a really delicious lunch at Rugala.
Jaco village and lunch at Rugula
When we got back to the boat, Matt had to do some surgery on our shoes. We both wear Reef’s and for some reason, the center fabric keeps pulling up so Matt has to out a piece of dynema there to hold them together. very annoying and poor quality!