Finca El Silencio

Our morning started with a fantastic breakfast at Hotel Zandu. Arepa with fresh cheese (queso) and hot chocolate (chocolatte) We were then picked up in a 1954 Jeep to travel out to the farm. I knew it was going to be a great day when I saw the Jeep.

We met Laura at the hotel. She is the owner of the farm with her husband Cesar. I was encouraged by the fact that Laura is quite young for a coffee farm owner, so hopefully the farm stays in her family for a long time.

After arriving, we were treated to a coffee, orange, mint and cardamon drink for refreshment, then we had a tour of the farm and area. We were able to cup 4 coffees that Laura is working on at the farm to market, and they were all very good. It was then time for lunch. A very traditional Colombian meal for us, and it was delicious.

The farm itself does not rely solely on coffee. Laura is a very forward thinking owner (who also speaks English) and has expanded what they do to include guava, bananas and plantain that are made into delicious chips, and guadua, which is a larger variety of bamboo useful in construction jobs. Many of the buildings used this guadua as support for the roofing surfaces.

We then had a chance to go and pick coffee cherries and have a little fun competition to see who could pick the most. After picking for almost an hour, I can honestly say that is one job I wouldn’t be very good at. First you are working on sloped fields, which makes it difficult to navigate and work. Add to that the large amount of rain they had received and it was very slippery. Second, being so tall I’m not really made out for that kind of work. But I do have a much greater appreciation for the work that the pickers do. You have to be very selective when you pick so that you only choose the ripe red cherries. And then you also have to carry your pickings down to the weigh station, as that’s how you get paid, by the kilo of cherries you pick. We then depulped our pickings so they could be washed and left to dry overnight.

Of course, the competitive side of me kicked in and I was able to squeek out a victory by less than a kilo over my closest competition Kia.

We then returned to the house we were staying at to unwind and get ready for the evening. More local food and music. A trio of gentlemen arrived to sing to us for about an hour, while we visited and ate meatballs, some different breads, and a variety of arepa’s. It was a perfect end to the day. Tomorrow, we return to Finca El Silencio to move our picked cherries from the wash station to the drying beds. Another first time experience for me.

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