TURNAT 2017 – Oriente Norte (Holguin & Baracoa) Coffee and Cacao Route
Testimonial from Hola Sun staff member Michelle.
TURNAT 2017 was held September 25- 30, 2017, beginning in the province of Holguin and ending in the city of Baracoa, located in the Guantanamo province. Turnat focuses on cultural, sustainable, and nature tourism, showcasing some of the lesser traveled areas of Cuba. I chose the Coffee and Cacao Route for my TURNAT experience. Being someone who not only loves all things coffee and chocolate, I am a firm believer in learning as much as possible about where the final product comes from, and all the steps from seed to cup or bar that need to be taken. Living in Canada, we take so much for granted, and participating in TURNAT 2017 helped me better understand the process.
On September 27, my group headed out from the Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca to go to a pine tree and coffee plantation in Mayari. There, we learned from the farmer how coffee is grown, and how long it takes to go from seedling to mature, fruit bearing tree. September is harvest season for coffee, so while we were visiting the farm, we got to view many plants that were mature and fruit bearing, with both ripe and green cherries. I personally got to taste the pulp around the seed in a ripe cherry, which has a rather sweet taste. From there, we visited the Salto del Guayabo, where after a hike, you could actually step foot in the falls. We also took a small hike in La Sabina before continuing on to the Villa Pinares de Mayari, our ecolodge in the mountains for the night.
September 28 we made stops in Moa, as well as Parque Alejandro de Humbolt for hikes. We learned more about endemic flora, as well as more about coffee and cacao harvesting. On our way to Baracoa, we stopped at Bahia de Taco, where we were able to take in some amazing views of the bay. We then continued on to the Hotel Porto Santo in Baracoa, an amazing property that has absolutely stunning views of Bahia de Baracoa.
September 29 we focused on Cacao and chocolate production. We visited the Casa del Cacao, which has some interesting information on chocolate production. We also visited Finca Duaba, where we went on a hike to learn more on cacao growing, harvesting, and processing. We got to taste a traditional chocolate beverage, made with cacao grown and processed on site in the traditional way. After lunch, we visited the chocolate factory, which was founded by Che Guevara in April 1693. At the factory, we saw how they produced all the different products for consumption, including sampling chocolate that was made very recently.
September 30, which was our last day, we went to the Rio Yumuri, for a small boat ride, hike, and an opportunity to swim and relax in the most pristine waters I have seen. It was an excellent way to end an amazing journey before heading back to Holguin to catch the return flight to Canada.