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Colombian coffee has a mystique to it. Let´s find out if it´s true.

Colombian coffee is known throughout the world. What´s surprising then, is that until fairly recently, getting a decent cup of coffee was harder than you might expect.

For a bit of nostalgia, below is a picture of the quintessential “Willys” that were originally imported by the military in 1946. They were later embraced by coffee farmers for their qualities suited to the mountainous terrain in the coffee region. They were up to the tough workloads of coffee production and are said to last up to 50 years!

colombian coffee

Average Size of Colombian Coffee Farm

4 hectares – that’s it. There are roughly 500,000 coffee producers in Colombia, which accounts for the small average size of the farms. As a comparison, Hacienda Venecia that we visited in the coffee region, has 160 hectares of land dedicated to growing coffee.

Altitude and Climate

The altitude and climate in Colombia are ideal for growing coffee beans; its equatorial location with the Andes mountains running through most of the West of the country ensure this. We receive plenty of sun and rain, with cooler climates at high altitude. Much of the soil is volcanic and extremely fertile.


Preparation of a traditional Colombian “Tinto”:


Arabica bean

Colombia produces only the high quality Arabica coffee beans that come in the following varieties; Typica, Comun, Bourbon, Caturra, Colombia and Maragogipe. This is the key to its fame for producing good coffee.

Zona Cafetera

The Zona cafetera, is the area to the south of Medellin known for being the heart of Colombian coffee country and consists of three departments; Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio.

The main cities in the area are Armenia, Manizales and Pereira, of which I recommend Manizales. Pereira is alright but Armenia does not offer much. I would not really recommend spending much time in the latter two cities. It’s the surrounding area that’s worth seeing.

Driving to the region from Medellin takes from 4-6 hours.

This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with excellent roads and infrastructure due to the amount of tourism, mainly from Colombia, and also because of its importance as an agricultural region. It accounts for half the coffee production of the entire country but comprises only a tiny fraction in area.

There are numerous hotels in the region such as the Hacienda San Jose,which is a converted Coffee Hacienda with old wooden floors and balconies running along the rooms on the second floor. I strongly recommend you visit this region if traveling to Colombia.

Alternatively, there’s the Hacienda Venecia, which is a fully operational coffee farm that gives tours with great insight into the history of Colombian Coffee, and seconds as a small hotel.


Biggest Coffee Producers in the World

The biggest coffee producers are as follows:

  • 1. Brazil – Arabica & Robusta beans
  • 2. Vietnam – Only Robusta bean which is a low-quality bean that they blend with the Arabica
  • 3. Colombia – Only the high-quality Arabica bean

Biggest Importers of Coffee

  • United States
  • Germany
  • Japan

Colombia does not roast the bulk of their own beans but instead, exports them after the drying process.

Juan Valdez

The Colombian National Federation of Coffee Producers has several sub-divisions such as a research division, co-operatives and the Juan Valdez brand that is the “face” of Colombian coffee.

They roast their beans domestically and Juan Valdez cafes are now found all over the country and serve great coffee.

Where available, they give 30 minutes of free wi-fi when you make a purchase with them.

“Tinto” (Black)

The local “tinto” has nothing to do with espresso or a dark roast – the difference can come as quite a surprise! In rural areas, expect the regular “tinto”. It’s fine once you know what you’re getting and is often served in agua panela, which is water boiled with raw sugar cane to give it sweetness.

Over the years, it has become much easier to get good coffee at restaurants, hotels and cafes. This is another of the many changes I’ve seen since first arriving in 1999. It may seem like a small detail, but these little touches add up to the whole experience of living or traveling here.

If you want coffee with milk, order a “cafe” or for a black coffee, ask for a “tinto”. It’s not intuitive, but that’s how it works.

Nearby Destinations – Sihanoukville

backpic sihanoukville

Sihanoukville, also known as Kompong Som, is a deep-water port city in Cambodia. It is the capital city of Sihanoukville province and is located in the peninsula at the south-west of the country at the Gulf of Thailand. It is also known as Snookyville or just Snooky. It is a natural marvel yet a lonely unexplored place filled with amazing beaches and coastal lines.

The province of Sihanoukville is an undeveloped tropical island surrounded by white-sand beaches. The beaches of Serendipity, Ochheuteal, Independence,Sokha and Otres are the most captivating of all! The whole city is surrounded by coastal lines and the white sands just make your day. The most dramatic scenario though is that these places are not yet recognized as tourist spots and are completely unexplored as compared to other sights over the globe.

The Koh Rong Sanloem Island sporting the Saracen Bay beach is an eternal bliss! It’s like finding heaven on earth! The blue skies touching the horizon, coming about the chain of mountains and diving into the clear waters is a sight in its own. The clear shores of Bamboo Island do the trick too! The waters are so pure and undisturbed that you would have to highly convince yourself to leave the shore after you get there. You can get there in 45 minutes on the Koh Rong Samloem Ferry

The overcall climate is pleasant, comforting and warm. This provincial land falls in Tropical monsoon zone and has basically two seasons- wet season and dry season. The monthly average temperature ranges from 14 C (57.2 F) in January to 36.0 C (96.8 F) in July. January is the coolest and April the warmest of all months. There are occurrences of tropical cyclones but the damage done is not that impacting.

The most striking places you would want to visit when at Sihanoukville (apart from the pleasant beaches of course!) are Wat Leu, Scuba Nation, So, Holy Cow, Sessions and Tapang. At Wat Leu, you can view the entire city in a literal panoramic view! The sunset at this point is amazingly gorgeous and worth watching! It is situated on a quiet hilltop, 1.5 km North West of the city. A great boutique hotel here is Benny’s Hotel, Sihanoukville, with large rooms and a bog pool. If you wish to go boating, Scuba Nation serves the purpose (and much more!). it also sports live-board trips. Music and art lovers can find solace in ‘Sessions’. It is also the most famous sundowner bar on Ochheuteal beach. M’lop Tapang’ – An NGO that works with at-risk children is also worth a visit. They sell good quality scarves, hand bags and T-shirts made by the street kids along with their families so they can continue leaning in schools, instead of working on the beaches.

Last of all, the tasty cuisines take form in two simple names — ‘So’ and ‘Holy Cow’. These places are known to serve the best dishes and delicacies as well as authentic cuisines. The perfect melody with a candle light dinner while vacationing on a beach side enjoying these delicacies can simply make your day!

Although unexplored, the province of Sihanoukville is gaining attention lately. This is evident from the number of plane trips that have increased in the recent years. It wouldn’t be exaggerating at all to say that Sihanoukville is going to be the most sought after destination in the near days to come, and Benny’s is the best place to stay there!!

Emergency Water Purification Methods

In our last article Emergency Water Filtration Methods we discussed and learned methods for filtering the large suspended particles from unknown quality water sources. Now we will begin to discover multiple ways of purifying this water (making it suitable for drinking), again using methods and materials found around the average home.

Why is purification necessary you ask? Our filtration process has given us water that from a visual aspect appears clear but now we need to purify the water from the things that could harm us that we cannot see. Water that comes from questionable sources can contain a variety of things that could be harmful to us and without a full laboratory to test and verify the purity of our water we should always assume the worst.

Water of uncertain quality can contain Microorganisms such as germs, bacteria, and viruses that can cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis. It can also contain parasites such as giardia cysts and cryptosporidium oocysts. It may also contain heavy metals, sodium, dissolved solids (minerals), and volatile organic contaminates (VOC’s).

So now that we understand the reasons for purification, let’s get on to the methods. There are many methods of purification but none of them are perfect, therefore the best approach is usually a combination of methods depending on your materials on hand.

  First method Boiling – Boiling is one guaranteed way of removing all pathogens (germs, bacteria, viruses, and any other microorganisms). Although boiling water does not remove the heavy metals, sodium, and VOC’s. The old Rule of Thumb that water needs to boil for 5 to 10 minutes to accomplish this is not correct. One minute at a rolling boil at sea level and 1 additional minute for every 3,000 ft above sea level is sufficient, any more is just a waste of fuel.

Second method Distilling – Distilling is the process of bring water to a boil, capturing or controlling the steam and returning it to water. This method is capable of removing all pathogens, heavy metals, sodium, dissolved solids and most VOC’s. The down fall of both this first and second method is that though effective it requires a tremendous amount of fuel. Depending on your personal situation at this point in time the question is; Do you have the fuel resources available or is your fuel resources better spent on cooking and warmth? Only you can make this call and it is an important one. If winter is not here it is coming. Choose wisely based on the information you have. By the way, as a foot note distilled water has a very bland taste (our taste in water usually comes from the dissolved minerals contained in that water).

Third method a Solar Still – Although capable of removing virtually all contaminants through evaporation I will not go into discussion about a solar still at this time mainly due to the fact that the production of drinkable water is usually on the order of 1 – 2 litters/per sq. yard of surface area on a good day. Just wanted to let you know it is out there and I will include plans and details of this still and a Dug Still on our Illustrations Page.

Fourth method Solar Water Disinfection – This is a method that is commonly and currently used in 3rd world communities to disinfect (get rid of all pathogens from) filtered water supplies. To do this all you need is a sheet of corrugated plastic or tin, although not mandatory just makes it easier (possibly from a patio cover or work shed), clear plastic soda bottles 1 to 2 litter maximum size with labels removed and washed, and the Sun.

To make this process work 1) fill the clear plastic bottles with your filtered water 2) place the filled bottles on their side on the corrugated plastic or tin, it holds them in place nicely and helps reflect the UV and Infrared rays into the bottles. 3) Make sure and place the whole thing in direct sunlight. That’s it!

The UV rays from the sunlight will destroy the pathogens and the infrared rays speed up the process by heating up the water temperature. The exposure time necessary to complete this process is as follows:

a)    For a sunny or partly cloudy day, at least 50% sun. Exposure time min. 6 Hours

b)    For a mostly cloudy period, little to no Sun. Exposure time min. 2 Days

c)    Heavily clouded and raining. Don’t waste your time, collect rainwater

Fifth method Chemical Purification – This is the method that will most commonly be used to purify our alternative water sources, but how long we can keep this up will depend on our on hand supplies.

In the average home there are possibly 3 products that we can use for purification. Those products are Regular Bleach, HTH and Iodine. I will discuss using them in that order since I listed them in the order of most likely to least likely to have on hand.

Using Bleach (the Best Method)

Let’s talk about Bleach first since it is common to most households. When I say bleach I am talking about liquid Regular Bleach so labeled on the bottle as such. That means no additives such as scents, fabric softeners, or color safe ingredients. It does not matter if it’s Clorox, Purex, or a Dollar Store off brand. On the front label it will say Regular Bleach and on the ingredient label it will say 5% or 6% sodium hypochlorite. This is what we need, and depending how much you have on hand will dictate how long we can use this method.

The main ingredient we are concerned with is chlorine (which is derived from sodium hypochlorite). Chlorine looses strength over time, and especially when exposed to air or sunshine, which accelerates that loss. So as a precaution always keep your bleach out of sunlight and always keep the cap tightly closed. Also remember when using and handling bleach to follow all Warning directions on the bottle in regards to avoiding skin contact and use in a well ventilated area.

For adult usage it is recommended by both the Red Cross and FEMA to add 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of household bleach to each gallon of drinking water to remove virus, mold, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Allow the water to sit at least 30 minutes before using. When smelled, the water should have a slight chlorine smell to it. If it does then this water is ready to drink and it is also ready to stockpile for long term storage. If the water has no odors of chlorine add 8 more drops and again wait another 15 minutes. Important we are looking for that chlorine smell to assure that our purification has worked. WARNING the above concentration is not considered safe for infants. If you need water for infants take this treated water from above and pour into a clean bowl or pan and allow to sit open for 24 hours. This exposure to the air will allow the chlorine to evaporate to safe levels. If you do not have 24 hours to wait place this bowl of water in the sunshine and stir it vigorously for a minute or two about every hour. This will accelerate the chlorine evaporation and the water should be safe for infants in about 5-6 hours. Smell the water; it should have lost the chlorine smell at this point.

A good survival tip at this point is, even if you do not use liquid bleach as a common household product. Buy at least one gallon of regular bleach to put back for emergencies and tape or tie an eye dropper to it just in case. Nobody will know you’re prepping if you don’t tell them.

Look at it this way, 1 gallon of liquid bleach can be equal to 3,800 gallons of drinkable water if the need arises and this is the recommended method for purification of water by both the Red Cross and FEMA.

Using HTH

Disclaimer:  We are including this section strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. And as such we are not presenting this as a recommended method (just proposing an alternative). Nor are we responsible for any liabilities that result from the use of this method by others.

That being said, those of us that have pools and hot tubs have on many occasions swallowed or drank water from the pool or hot tub either accidently or otherwise and survived. During a real survival situation we may be pressed to use the things we have on hand to unsure that survival. The danger in this method is using the chemical chlorine concentrates when mixed in smaller amounts of water and I myself would not use nor recommend this method without a Chlorine test kit to verify chlorine levels before drinking. I would also mix no smaller than 55 gallon batches at a time, once verified safe, bottle and store.

So if you are one of the lucky ones that have a swimming pool or hot tub then HTH is one of the purification chemicals that you have been using all along to treat your water and probably should still have some on hand and possibly a water test kit (chlorine test).

Actually HTH is a product name; what we are looking for is dry calcium hypochlorite usually in a 70% available chlorine concentrate. This also supplies chlorine but in a much more concentrated form.

According to WHO (World Health Organization) and also FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) guides on field water quality, the acceptable  levels of chlorine to meet both standards of purification and still maintain safe drinking levels is 5ppm. which is also = to 5mg./L . For those that don’t know (1ppm=1mg/L).

Therefore based on these guidelines your target figure for available chlorine to shoot for is 5ppm. or 5mg/L depending on the type test kit you have. If you test below this amount add more chlorine in small amounts stir and wait at least 30 minutes and retest. The opposite is true if over this amount add small amounts of water, stir, and retest.


I am old enough to remember when this use to be in every households medicine cabinet. It was used as an antiseptic for cuts and scrapes. Many of you younger folks out there may not be familiar with it at all. But it is still an accepted method for purifying water and is still available in Drug stores.

The dosage is as follows: For a 2% USP strength tincture of Iodine

Add 20 drops to each gallon of clear water and wait 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy add 40 drops and wait 30 minutes. This again will remove all molds, fungi, bacteria, virus, and protozoa from the water. It may somewhat discolor the water itself but that O.K. that is normal. Iodine is commonly one of the ingredients used in the commercially produced purification tablets available in the market today.


If you are planning your vacation on one of Croatian islands and also want to have same crazy fun, consider these couple of tips I have to give to you. Namely, you can not compare Croatia to Ibiza, but on some of Croatian islands you can for sure have fun to match up with Ibiza! You can say that Croatian people for real know how to amuse themselves and other and don’t count on early coming home. Variety of pubs, clubs, cafes and open air parties on beaches are some of the reasons that will support your party experience. So, let’s start.

BOL on the island of BRAC
Exciting and lively – you can describe the city of Bol in these two words and you will be the closest to the true. I have been already informing you about the island of Brac and its famous beach Zlati Rat (Golden Horn) and you already know that this beach is one of the most popular and trendy Croatian beaches.

club Faces

If you want to party in Bol be sure to go to club Faces. Put your dancing shoes on and count on dancing till the early morning. This club is one of the biggest ones and can admit over two thousand dancers in its open air dancing plateau. In a case you want a bit more relaxing atmosphere and are not a club type, there are numerous little and bigger Konobe. Konoba is something like traditional restaurant and usually offer native meals, vine and music. They are for sure great places for time of and great fun.

DUGI OTOK (Long Island)
Dugi Otok is an island known for its calm atmosphere even in the hart of tourist season. It is also known for its crazy parties in the night. You can get it on the beach Saharun. This beach is known for its 24hours opened air beach parties. White sand and pine forest complete the picture of this gorgeous beach in a small inlet south of the village Veli Rat. On the Saharun beach while party is lasting, you can have a drink or a sandwich in little snack bars which are placed there for those party occasions. To this place you can with no trouble come by a car.


Island of HVAR
We can describe the island of Hvar as the most popular tourist objective and also the greatest island for those who are in search for fun and party time. Mass of people and party happenings are the most intensive for the period of months July and August. Beaches for all tastes are to be found on this island – from sandy, pebbled, rocky, nudist, children and family beaches – Hvar has got it all. Exclusive atmosphere and vibes that will heath your blood, Hvar is the place where you want to meet people and for sure to be seen.


JELSA a small town on the island of Hvar, also home of the club Vertigo that present to you with clubbing experience in London fashion, accompanied by exquisite dance music, various DJs, beverages of all sorts (from vines over cocktails to champagnes and so on) and all of this in a striking inside that includes the Cocktail garden, the Club and the White lounge. Working hours start in 22 hundred hours, so hurry up! Party till morning hours!


The island of PAG
If you are on the island of Pag and in a search for party, ask for ZRCE, AQUARIUS, PAPAYA or KALYPSO.
ZRCE is a beach with many various facilities for fun and action during the day and also has 3 trendy open air clubs where you can amuse yourself till the morning the next day.
In AQUAROIS you can dance and even have something to eat and of course drink. It is fantastically designed and equipped. Habitually there are some theme parties organised. Often include even a fun pool. DJs come from all over the world to play their music.


PAPAYA is a club with exotic interior. Water slide, pool, jacuzzi, area for VIPs, restaurant, cocktail bars, foam parties – those are just some of the things that Papaya has to offer you.
KALYPSO is a more of a sports bar for daily fun. Often there is beauty contest organised. During the day, there you can play the beach volley, badminton, drink a cocktail, go on the Internet, eat something in Kalypsos fast food bar and so on.


The island of RAB
On this island when searching for fun and party, you have to ask for PUDARICA. This is the beach with a great club SANTOS opened all night and day. During the day it offers you various sports activities and in the night it becomes a grand night club that offers you almost anything you can imagine for some great fun. Various performances, great DJs from all over the world, go go dancers, different promotions and so on.
To Pudarica you can come by car or even better by bus, so you will not have to worry about driving in strange conditions

Food in Bali

Bali has the most wonderful choices of food from very upmarket fine dining to small local warungs . The local warungs will give you an authentic taste of  Balinese food. Rice is most important item in every Balinese meal and accompanying side dishes are secondary to the staple part of the meal which is the rice. Roast suckling pig is another very important dish in the Balinese diet, eaten only on the most important ceremonial days it is prepared with traditional spices and rubbed with turmeric and coconut oil to ensure a crisp skin. The local markets in the village are the place to be in the mornings, local women gather to shop for fresh food for the family and talk with neighbours and friends. Huge baskets of fresh chillies, snake beans, white egg plant,fresh ginger, turmeric, galangal the choice of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices is endless.


The aroma that fills the air is mixture of these wonderful spices, fresh flowers , peanuts and coconut being roasted at the  small stalls selling sweet and savoury rice porridge’s and nasi campur for breakfast. Fresh fruits are everywhere even the busy city areas all Balinese gardens are a combination of flowers,fruit and vegetables as you walk down pathways look up and see trees loaded with fresh mango’s, mangosteens, bananas, papaya even the famous durian fruit which is described as “tasting like heaven but smelling like hell”