Thursday was our “follow Walmart’s supply chain day.” We started out by visiting a large farm that harvested peppers. We had a tour of the greenhouses and the owner of the farm gave a small presentation. He talked about how he enjoys selling his product to Walmart. They give him access to tools and techniques that would not otherwise be available to him. One thing that was interesting: farmers never sign contracts with Walmart. They only continue to sell as long as the quality and conditions are good. We then moved to a smaller farm. The owner gave a similar presentation. We got to see where the produce is grown, where it is washed, and where it is packaged.
After visiting the second farm, we stopped for lunch at a foot truck court. I got some ceviche, it was good. After lunch, we bought some flowers from a woman selling them out of her truck, because why not?!?! Flowers in hand, we headed to the Walmart produce distribution center. We got a tour of the warehouse: where produce is brought in, evaluated, and sent out. It was very interesting.
On Friday we visited an American technology company called L3. After our visit, we got to go to the beach for the rest of the day. It was an absolute blast.
On Saturday, we had a tour of downtown San José. This is the are that we had visited on the night that we first arrived when we were looking for a music festival. It was fun to see it again in the light.
Also on Saturday we went to a coffee plantation for a tour. It was very interesting and one of my favorite visits for sure.
On Wednesday, we visited two companies: CINDE and Baxter Healthcare. CINDE is Costa Rica’s investment promotion agency. They work to bring foreign investments and capital into the country. They have been largely successful in creating more of a “business scene” here in Costa Rica. Interestingly enough, CINDE told us that the largest export out of Costa Rica is medical equipment. Convienantly, the next company that we visited was Baxter Healthcare. Baxter Healthcare is a American health care company. They have a massive factory in San Jose that produces medical tubing. The visit to the factory was unlike anything that I have ever experienced before. They walked us through their sterile rooms and showed us a video of the company’s “best practices” for shift changes on the assembly line. After Baxter, I had some authentic “al pastor” tacos for lunch. They were delicious. We took a brief break for happy hour, then went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was good — I had a pizza.
On Tuesday, we drove from the Arenal area and back to San Jose. Our new hotel is in the middle of the business district. It is very nice and lovely. We stopped at a mall food court for lunch, and I grabbed a Greek chicken pita. Naturally, I had to get a palleta for dessert. It was delicious. After lunch, we went to our first corporate visit: Gensler. Gensler is a collaborative design and architecture firm that has offices all around the world. The visit was really great. They have an incredible and ecofriendly office space that was really interesting to visit. We ate dinner at a sushi / hibachi restaurant and it was really great. I had a Costa Rica Roll and it was delicious. It had plantain and fried shrimp. It was quite unique.
This morning we woke up to the natural light from the huge window in our room. It was beautiful! We ate breakfast at the hotel (eggs, beans, rice, typical “Tico” breakfast), then headed to the zip lining place. Zip lining as super fun. It was a huge course and there were like 14 cables that we got to cross. It was great!
After the zip line, we ate lunch at a little place. I had beans, rice, a plantain, steak, and potatoes. I also had a mango / strawberry smoothie. It was delicious. I should’ve taken a picture.
After lunch, we headed to the Volcano Arenal National Park. It was about a hour and a half long hike through the jungle. I didn’t take many pictures, but we saw some cool animals including a money and a toucan. It was really interesting and good to get some exercise. We headed back to the hotel and are here for the night.
The journey down the hill is so scary and seemingly unsafe, we decided to get some foods to prepare at the hotel from the store. I snagged some peanut butter. I can’t complain!!
After we arrived last night, we had dinner at a Tapas bar and went to Walmart. We also took about an hour long bus ride to an local arts festival. When we arrived at the festival, all of the music was over. There was, however, a boxing match going on. It was an adventure.
This morning, we got up early to drive from San Jose to Fortuna. We went to a sustainable farm for a tour and lunch. Everything in the lunch was produced at the farm. The tour was also very interesting. We got to try several fruits / leaves / plants. Our guide painted my face with some Turmeric (I hope it comes off lol)!?!
After the farm, we headed to our next hotel. To get to the hotel, which is basically on the top of a mountain, we had to take our HUGE tour bus up a HUGE hill. It was quite spooky. I cannot describe to you how large our bus was and how small / curvy the road was. I was honestly surprised that we even attempted to make it up the hill. Somehow, we made it. The hotel is fabulous. We all have little cabins on the top of this huge mountain.
We went to dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant and journeyed up the mountain back to our hotel. On the way up, the bus started smoking. Somehow, we made it up once again!
After dinner, we played card games and hung out. It’s always a good time with these peeps! I’m looking forward to the next few days.