Colombian National Coffee Park

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for theme parks. I love the food, I love the games, I love the people, and I especially love the rides. So when I heard Colombia had a coffee-themed park, I knew I had to get there. It is right outside of Montenegro, and it is one of the coolest places on earth.

Have you ever heard of Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania? It’s like that, only with coffee. When we walked into the park there was a huge directory. I skimmed the directory for all the high points of the park. My eyes immediately went to the rides. There were bumper cars, bumper boats, a Ferris wheel, a free-fall, go-karts, and a roller coaster. All the rides were across the park from the spot we were standing, so we looked for the attractions that were closest to us then we made our way over to the rides.

National Coffee Park - Quindío, Colombia

It just so happened that the Interactive Coffee Museum was close, so we went there first. It’s a science and technology museum, so most of the exhibits were related to the science and the technological advances that have allowed Colombia to dominate the coffee-trading business. Before we left we saw a 3-D coffee movie. It was cute, but I really didn’t like the coffee bean flying at my face!

I got really annoyed with some people in the group. I won’t name any names, but someone didn’t wear the right shoes, so that someone complained so much that we decided to take the train tour around the park instead of walking through it. I wanted to go to the top of the lookout tower, but we couldn’t go because you have to walk up the stairs to get to the top. I wanted to go to the indigenous tribe cemetery, but we couldn’t go because the pathway was made of rocks and very uneven. I’m not complaining about the train ride. It was a fast way to see all the attractions in the park, but I wanted to be out there experiencing it up close and personal! The last straw for me was we couldn’t get on the bumper cars as a group because we all had to wear closed-toe shoes. At that point, I decided to go off on my own for the rest of the day.

Colombian National Coffee Park - Quindío, Colombia

After that, I went to see everything! I went to the National Coffee Museum, I went to the makeshift Quindian town plaza, I went to the coffee gardens, and I went horseback riding. I wasn’t alone for long. I met a guy named Martín and his sister Leidi when I was sitting at this musical theater performance. Being around them and all the fun I was having in the coffee park made me lose track of time. When I looked at my watch it said 5:00 pm. I was supposed to be at the bus at 5:00 pm! I ran all the way across the park, all thirty-six acres, in about fifteen minutes. Good thing I’m in great shape. But don’t think I didn’t get Martin’s contact information before I ran.

Activities:

  1. Do you like theme parks? Why or why not?
  2. Mention a few factors that contribute to make Colombia’s coffee so outstanding.
Read More...

Colombian Food

One of the best parts about visiting all of these countries is that people open their homes to us for dinner. I must say, one of my favorite countries to eat in is Colombia. Last night we went to eat at Rosa María Betancur’s house. She’s about the age of my grandma, but she has so much energy!

The aroma of cooking food met us at the door with Mrs. Betancur. There was a mixture of spices that I couldn’t put my finger on. I inhaled deeply, then my stomach growled really loud and everyone laughed at me. Mrs. Betancur smiled, but she didn’t laugh out loud like everyone else. She motioned for us to come into the formal dining room where she had some chips and bread waiting for us.

I found out later that Mrs. Betancur won several contests for her cooking. The first dish she served us was a soup called ajiaco. She won first place in a local contest with this soup. It could have been a meal all by itself. There was chicken, three kinds of potatoes, corn cobs cut into small, half-inch rounds, all served in a rich broth. Then she put white rice, capers, cream, avocados, and bananas in the middle of the table for us to share. Mrs. Betancur said we put all of the ingredients in the soup or put a little of each element on the spoon and savor each flavor in one bite. Being the foodie I am, I chose to savor each bite. That was the way to go. There were so many lovely flavors and textures in my mouth at once. I wish the bowl was bigger because I wanted more. Little did I know that there was another course coming.

Ajiaco Soup

Before I could ask for another small bowl, another lady came out of the back with a plate of food. I was starting to get full, so the sight of this plate kind of freaked me out. It was HUGE! There were beans, white rice, a fried egg, sweet plantains, a full steak, and a homemade pork rind (chicharrón). Back home, my mother used to make me sit at the table and eat every crumb on my plate before I could get up. I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate until I couldn’t eat anymore.

I was absolutely stuffed by the end of the meal. I looked around the table and everyone had this stuffed look on their faces. So when Mrs. Betancur came out with a cake, everyone let out a big sigh. The lady helping her laughed at us and whispered something in Mrs. Betancur’s ear. Mrs. Betancur nodded in agreement and sent the lady back into the kitchen with the cake. When she returned, she had a box with the cake inside. I was grateful for the meal and even more grateful for the boxed cake. It was a traditional Colombian Torta de Coco (Coconut Cake), and it made a great breakfast the next morning.

Activities:

  1. What is ajiaco? What ischicharrón?
  2. What typical Colombian dessert is mentioned in the text?
  3. Which Colombian dish would you like to try? Why?
Read More...