Saturday, November 14, 2009

Antigua - Day 3 Finca Filadelfia and Santa Clara Church

On Wednesday morning we got up early to go to a coffee plantation tour. This is a picture of Agua volcano as we wait for the plantation truck to pick us up.

I took this shot of the same volcano from another spot in town as we rode to the plantation.

Here is the truck we rode in on the way to the plantation. It is a Mercedes Unimog. They aren't built for comfort. Very rough ride - but we didn't get stuck in the mud as we drove through the plantation, either.

This is what a coffee bloom looks like. These coffee plants are actually Arabica grafted onto Robusta root stock. The Arabica tastes better and Robusta is more resistant to root diseases. The coffee plants require a lot of pruning over their 20 year useful life. They also like to grow in shade so the shade trees require grooming, also.

There are a lot of steps to producing the coffee. There are about 150 picker families at this farm. Once the fruit is picked the shell is removed and the beans are then washed. There are several sorting steps to grade the coffee. Several of these use flotation in water to grade the coffee. These troughs use flowing water to separate the best grades from the bad beans.

Once the beans are washed and separated they are sun dried on these huge plazas down to 12% moisture.The plazas are sloped so that any rain runs off. The picking season is just starting in this area.

This farm markets their premium beans under the R. Dalton brand. They also sell to Starbucks and other blenders and distributors.

In the afternoon we toured Santa Clara church and convent. This was built in the 1500s and destroyed in the 1773 earthquake.

This is a shot of the garden area.

The former sanctuary. There are several basement areas. Some are used a burial crypts and another as a root cellar.

This is a walkway just outside the sanctuary.

Here is a picture of us overlooking the garden area and other living areas used by the nuns.

That evening while we were out for dinner we took this picture of La Merced church on the main square.

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