Just outside of Manzanillo, in the town of La Central, is an 8.5-hectare orchid farm owned and run by Elsa and Fidel of VivePlants. Along with their excellent staff, they grow, pack and sell thousands of orchids each year throughout Mexico.
With an early departure from Melaque to avoid the heat and humidity of the tropical nursery, we head to VivePlants in La Central for a tour of part of the incredible 9 hectare orchid farm hidden up a smaller seasonal river bed. We are greeted with tasty organic coffee from Chiapas as we hear about Fidel and Elsa’s story in how they came to set up their tropical plant haven on the Pacific coast.
We learn about the difficulties and considerable time and effort involved in growing orchids commercially and what has made VivePlants a growing success in a competitive market. After this very interesting talk, we visit Fidel’s ‘Hidden Paradise’ where you can appreciate roughly 5,000 orchids all blooming at once! From the shade net covered growing areas we then visit the cold room where the cut stems are prepared to be shipped out all around the country by air and land to arrive in perfect condition thanks to the specially designed boxes invented in Japan, and who’s secret was passed to Fidel out of respect by his Japanese contacts for the way he works.
The final stop at VivePlants is to the store area where you can purchase potted orchids of many colours and types that we have seen on our tour.
Leaving VivePlants we then head to the town of El Chavarin to the wonderful home-cooked food of La Casa de la Abuela for a choice of the many meals and traditional delicacies that the restaurant has to offer.
After our delicious brunch we make our way to the back roads near the airport. Here we will learn about the growth, production and processing of one of the main crops from our area – bananas. We will visit a farm that makes up a small part of the over 4,000 hectares of plantations of bananas found in the Valley of Cihuatlán, and just over the Marabasco river into Colima state. Learn about the process from a small shoot to a 9 foot tall plant with an up to 70kg bunch of bananas hanging on it in under 10 months, followed by the harvesting, cleaning and packaging process before sending to markets around the country and internationally.
Finally after this stop we make our way back to Melaque for a well-deserved siesta!