After the coffee farm we went to the Extension Service farm where they do technical support for the cafeteros. These people in the yellow shirts are like the peace corps and work for the Federation. They were all very nice and slightly excited. We thought it was just because we were there but we were wrong.
There’s this man – perhaps you’ve heard of him – Juan Valdez? I don’t know anyone that hasn’t heard of him, but in Colombia, Juan Valdez is THE most famous person. And we got to meet him. He was very nice. Carlos Sanchez, who has been Juan Valdez since 1969, recently retired and a search for the new face of Juan Valdez commenced. The winner was Carlos Castañeda, a 39-year-old rural coffee grower from Andes in the Antioquia region of Colombia.
And here is Nora, the ‘Win a Trip with Juan’ contest winner and her husband Mike with Juan and Conchita, Juan’s mule.
And here I am with Carolina and Juan and Conchita.
After everyone in the entire place had a chance to get a photo (or three) with Juan, we packed up and went to the National Coffee Park or Parque Nacional del Cafe in Montenegro, Quindio. Think ‘small Disneyland’ but all about coffee. They even have an animatronic orchid show similar in style to the Tiki Room. There were plantains surrounding the park. Here you can see how they cover the fruit with bags to protect them from mosquitoes and other bugs.
Here is the group of us, from left to right:
Alex, our guide in Pereira, Reinel, Park Guide, Carolina, our translator and guide from the Coffee Federation, Donna Walter from Weber Shandwick, me, Nora, contest winner and husband Mike.
After our fun-filled afternoon of bumper cars and souvenir buying, we retired to the Hacienda San Jose where all our needs were taken care of and then some. It was a really wonderful place. In this picture is owner Isabel and Nelson, the person that catered to our every need.