It was on a cool morning when we met at the School of Tourism and Gastronomy of the University of Colima. Everything was ready to start our adventure of that day. A comfortable van was waiting for us, in which 7 “tourists”, all students of the 5th semester of the same school and I, their teacher of the subject of Alternative Tourism, would be escorted by another of my students who would do the role of guide on our way to the town of Canoas.
So we started our journey towards the coffee-growing town of Canoas, located north of the municipality of Manzanillo. We took the road to Minatitlán and although the first part of the way is occupied by containers yards of the port of Manzanillo, nothing pretty, just 8 kilometers ahead we started the ascent towards the mountainous part of the municipality and immediately we began to perceive changes in the landscape. The tall palm trees of oil coquitos began to become less present and in their place we began to see large trees among which stand out the wonderful “parotas”, giant trees that seem taken from a fairy tale, besides others like the “papelillo”, with a reddish bark that seems to peel, the “mojote”, from which seeds some flour is made rich in protein, “barcino”, with its dark, hard and heavy wood and many more. The road, in very good condition, but narrow and sinuous, introduces us in this environment of adventure. Little by little the climate was changing, we leave behind the humid coastal heat and began to enjoy the height tropical weather. We passed the town of Camotlán, approximately 20 kilometers from Manzanillo and we continued our journey, now on slightly flat land, soft hills with different crops and palms from which palapas are built. Just 45 minutes after leaving Manzanillo we reached the deviation towards Canoas. From there to the village was just a little more than three kilometers.
We finally arrived at our first destination, Mr. Francisco´s property where the rest of the students in charge of the organization of the tour were waiting for us. This property has an extensive garden, three or four unfurnished rooms, a large covered terrace and another semi-open house where you can find a kitchen, a few tables to eat and other room. It also has a small, well maintained pool.
We were introduced to the property´s owner and started our first activity, a yoga class that the same Francisco gave us on the large terrace, overlooking the beautiful garden. It was an incredible class, surrounded by nature in its entire splendor, breathing that fresh air and truthfully suffering a little with stretches and postures, but extremely comforting. At the end we were comforted with delicious tea and he talked a little about his life and the projects he had for his land. We continued with the planned itinerary, which consisted in a tour around the garden and where Citlali, another of the guides, explained to us what plants and trees were there, many of them fruits: guava, mango, lemon , guanábana, “black´s head ” fruit, that resembles to guanabana, but round and with an orange flesh. It also had several medicinal and aromatic plants, a small stable with several goats and at the back of the land a stream passes by where we refresh ourselves a little.
The purpose of organizing these trips is that the students not only practice as tourism guides and promoters, but also they must be coordinated with some members of the community to include them in the tour, so they can have some economic benefit from it . On this occasion, in addition to visiting Don Francisco and knowing his project, the students had to turn to someone else. Among them, Mr. Rubén who collaborated offering a pick-up truck to us in which he took us to visit the coffee plantations, our next activity.
We climbed in the back of the truck and began the journey to the coffee plantations. All of them are under the trees that grow naturally in the mountains. Coffee is a bush a couple of meters height, in which branches grows the coffee´s cherry, bright red, with the coffee bean inside.
The coffee harvest is carried out manually and in fact the entire community participates in this activity. In the same village there is a cooperative in which the coffee is carried out: it is dried, the seed is separated and toasted afterwards. It is an organic coffee with a delicious taste.
It is really difficult to describe the wonderful landscape, which in addition of being spectacular, with the mountains that surround the place, gives a sense of peace and tranquility.
With all these activities, we were starving and the organizing team had already prepared a delicious lunch by the river bank. Mrs. Guadalupe, another member of the community, was in charge of cooking us a delicious tinga, accompanied by beans from the pot and handmade tortillas. All this was served by the students over a table covered with a nice cotton tablecloth, with beautiful vases filled with coffee branches as decoration.
So we sat down to enjoy the meal, the service that was given by the students in charge, the “music” that the river played and the cool shade of the large trees above us. What more can you ask for in this life?
Despite being so comfortable, we had no choice but to undertake the return home, to everyday reality and thinking what we could do to repeat this wonderful experience as soon as possible.
Llegamos finalmente a nuestro primer destino, la casa del señor Francisco, en donde nos esperaba el resto del equipo de alumnos a cargo de la organización del recorrido. Esta propiedad está formada por un extenso jardín, tres o cuatro habitaciones sin amueblar, una gran terraza cubierta y otra casa semiabierta en donde se encuentra la cocina, unas mesas para comer y otra habitación. El conjunto tiene además una pequeña alberca muy bien mantenida.
Fuimos presentados con el dueño de la propiedad e iniciamos nuestra primera actividad, una clase de yoga que el mismo señor Francisco nos impartió en la gran terraza, teniendo como vista el amplio jardín. Fue una clase increíble, rodeados de la naturaleza en todo su esplendor, respirando ese aire fresco y la verdad sufriendo un poco con los estiramientos y posturas, pero sumamente reconfortante. Al terminar nos ofreció un rico té y nos platicó un poco de su vida y de los proyectos que tenía para su propiedad. Proseguimos con el itinerario previsto, que consistía en un recorrido por todo el terreno y en donde Citlali, otra de las alumnas guías, nos fue explicando cuáles eran las diferentes plantas y árboles que ahí había, muchos de ellos frutales: guayaba, mango, limón, guanábana, cabeza de negro, que se parece a la guanábana, pero redonda y con una carne anaranjada. Tenía también varias plantas medicinales y aromáticas, un pequeño establo con varias cabras y al fondo del terreno pasaba un riachuelo en donde nos refrescamos un poco.
El propósito de organizar estos viajes es que los chicos no solamente practiquen la actividad de guías y promotores de los mismos, sino que también deben de coordinarse con algunos miembros de la comunidad para incluirlos en ellos y que éstos puedan sacar algún provecho económico de los mismos. En esta ocasión, además de visitar a don Francisco y conocer su proyecto, los chicos tuvieron que recurrir a algunas personas más. Entre ellas el Sr. Rubén quien colaboró con nosotros brindándonos una camioneta pick-up en la cual nos llevó a visitar los cafetales, que fue nuestra siguiente actividad.
Nos trepamos en la caja de la camioneta e iniciamos el recorrido hacia los cafetales. Todos ellos se encuentran bajo los árboles que crecen en forma natural en las montañas. El café debe de crecer bajo la sombra para que la planta no agote el suelo. Es una mata de un par de metros de altura, a la cual le sale la cereza del café, roja brillante y en su interior se encuentra la semilla del café