Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fazenda Cachoeira

Matt and I have talked about visiting a coffee farm ever since we moved to Brazil.  We finally had the chance in July!  We decided rather last minute, and because July is a very popular time to vacation, the place that many people had recommended to us wasn't available.  So I had to go with what I could find on Google.  And we got very, very lucky!

Fazenda Cachoeira is in Santo Antonio do Amparo in the south of Minas Gerais.   Google maps says it is only 2 hours away which really means it is 3 hours away.  Getting to Santo Antonio do Amparo was easy, and it's a nice road (because it's a toll road).  It was a little tricky to find the Fazenda once we arrived in Santo Antonio, because there are no signs, and because we live in Brazil.  But since we have now lived in Brazil for 3 years, we my husband has kind of figured out how directions work and how to "feel" your way to the destination.  And once we arrived at the actual Fazenda, there were no clear signs as to where to go, and who was in charge, so we just had to wander around until we found someone who looked like they were in charge.  But once we found that person, we know we'd found a good place.

Mariana told us that the farm had been in her family for 5 generations.  We stayed in the main house, which had been built in 1870 something.  It had been renovated in the 1980s, but still had the Mineiro farmhouse charm.  Wood furniture, big doorways, lace curtains, and old fashioned keys in the bedroom doors.  There was a pool, hammocks, dogs, a game room with foosball and pool, waterfalls, hikes, beautiful views, bonfires at night, and horses.  The kids couldn't get enough of the horses.

We rode them around the farm, to the waterfalls, around the farm again, and the around again.  It was wonderful to watch the kids play outside, to get dirty, to run and laugh and explore.  It was the first time I'd been out of Belo Horizonte since January, so it was so refreshing and restorative.

Matt and I got to take a tour of the farm with Mariana.  It was fascinating to learn that Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, and that Minas Gerais produces about 80% of all arabica coffee. We learned that for optimal production, coffee needs to to be planted at 1000 to 1100 meters above sea level.  We saw the cherries being dried on the terraces, and learned that during drying, the coffee needs to be "raked" 10 times a day to dry uniformly.  And of course, we drank some very delicious coffee.

Matt raking the coffee
I was able to make most of the arrangements via email, but I did have to make a phone call to clarify what meals were included.  It was a little hard to reach them because it was the peak of coffee harvest, so the owners were not only hosting guests, but also managing the harvest.   The packages include all meals and desserts (not drinks), and horse rides.  The owners speak some English, and a little French. Highlights for us were watching the sun set from the top of the coffee farm, walking on the coffee cherries (they make a very nice crunching sound), eating the fried sausage, and hiking to the waterfalls. We had a great time, and would highly recommend a visit to Fazenda Cachoeira.

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