Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Tropical Rise

The fresh roasted beans as they fall into the hopper at the Hopetown Coffee House, Bahamas.

About the time the Rise Up Runners were beginning to make a name for themselves in Easton, this Rise Up Runner was in the Bahamas with the family. There’s a little safe-harbor town called Hopetown where we visit for a week each year. From Hopetown, which is bordered by the Atlantic on one side and the Sea of Abaco on the other, there is a perfect half marathon course if you run the entire island from North to South and return. That is my big run while on vacation. My other runs consist of northbound runs (4 miles) and southbound runs (9 miles) with our rental house somewhere in the middle.

So, I’m on vacation, for God’s sake, and “rising up” and running early doesn’t happen. Though I get up relatively early, there are things to be done; tea, walk to the oceanfront church yard where I can do T’ai Chi, check out the beach, breakfast, check out who is arriving on the first ferry, snorkel, and visit the Hopetown Coffee House.

We are talking the real McCoy here! This 40 year old, ex-corporate, Bahamian born, British educated, new father, Coffee Roaster does coffee right. He quit the corporate world and landed in Hopetown where he has built a coffee house facility that has become the center of Hopetown life. Free-trade raw beans are brought in by the 150 pound bag and “micro-roasted” daily in small batches. It is a science and the owner is figuring out perfect blends.

In the airy wood trimmed shop that has commanding views of Hopetown Harbor you are treated to an aromatherapy of hot and cold coffee, chocolate, and tea drinks along with freshly baked muffins and pastries. It is a place where I could sit all day and read (but, of course I don’t because I’d miss all the fun of having sharks chasing us as we snorkel the reefs).

Mike Keene caught “feeding the chicken”, a T’ai Chi pose, with heavy sea in the background

In the shed out back (the owner and his family live above the shop) is where the roaster is. Chris (I think that’s his name) roasts daily with the laptop computer monitored roaster that looks like a restored antique fire engine. Roasting usually happens before afternoon so Chris can use the “pm” swells to ride his board; yes, he’s an awesome surfer; one of the best I’ve EVER seen in person.

So, with the family all hyped up on Iced Mocha Frappes by eleven in the morning, I’m itching to get my run started. To be honest, I usually run before coffee, but on my “Half Marathon” day, for some unknown reason, I decide to run when it gets really hot. It reminds me of running to Tilghman from my house at midday in August…HOT! But, I love it. We’re talking shoes, socks, and shorts; that’s all, my favorite attire. I miscalculated the heat, however, and my handheld water bottle was completely dry when I reached the south end of the island known as Tahiti Beach (mile 8.5). I swam in the Sea water to cool off, rinsed the sand from my feet, put my shoes back on and started the rest of the 13.1 miles. A few minutes down the road I bummed some water from a tiki bar, which helped me make it back home. Drinking water is a precious commodity on the island, so I wasn’t very popular at the bar (with no money) begging for water. Hey, no problem, Mon!

To much pleasure I came home to hear of the start of the Rise Up Runners and felt compelled to write this little ditty on my coffee experience while on vacation. The Hopetown Coffee House got at least $20 a day from our family; we’d sometimes visit it three times a day. With sunshine, reefs, beach, ocean, and coffee just steps away, what more could anyone ask? Paradise.

--Michael Keene


Michael Valliant said...

This one has it all, Mr. Keene. Running, coffee, exotic travel. All it needs is some Rastafarian wisdom and a reggae theme song...

Joel said...

Very cool.
Feed that chicken!

GET your SCUBA certification and see those reef at night. Still one of the best dives I have made.