This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

CACAO TRAIL

Mike and I were apart for 4 weeks and I would have enjoyed my 1st full day with him pretty much anywhere. We chose to spend it on a tour with Bruno Kuppinger, a German expat guide recommended by Kate and Ian of Hickatee Cottages. Another night of heavy rain removed Blue Creek hiking and caving from the itinerary and nearly cost us the rest of the tour; Ian drove us to this water crossing and gingerly made his way across to where Bruno was waiting on the other side.
We made our way to the jungle farm of Eladio Pop. This fantastic man charged through his jungle property talking a steady stream about his farming practices and spiritual beliefs, whacking all sorts of food bits for us to try from the surrounding growth, setting snare traps, dragging buckets of slimey 'jungle beer' from the bush, and sharing medicinal plant recipes followed by "I've proved it myself". The photos are in chronological order.
The main cash crop is cacao - chocolate. The pods grow from the trunk and main branches. 

Eladio has 15 kids, many with kids themselves, and feeds them from his jungle farm. Almost everything is edible, medicinal, or helping provide a better environment for something else.


Avocado - he generously filled our bag and we enjoyed them for a week.
This is what cacao pods look like on the inside; the slimy white coverings of the seeds are sweet.
Cacao blossom

Ginger root
Setting a snare trap for a mole
Tasty - some sort of palm heart
Agouti tracks by my muddy toe - proof I was there.
Allspice tree
Guava
Outhouse with a view




Eladio gave me a rainbow colored cacao pod.


Fermented jungle beer, hidden in the bushes because it's almost ready.

Ooo - very brave.







Eladio's wife, daughter-in-law, and oldest daughter prepare a traditional lunch for us.

That's Bruno on the right and Eladio and his wife in the middle.
Roasting cacao seeds on a comal.
They add allspice and a few special light-colored cacao seeds to the mix.

After smashing the seeds
and winnowing away the shells
you have rich, fragrant, pure chocolate.
It's ground into a paste using a metate and mano

or food mill
and mixed with a little water or milk and sugar to make a delicious drink. We bought 3 balls of pure chocolate for drinks and desserts and a small carved gourd.
Baby cuddling - always a highlight; this little Eladio granddaughter stole my heart.

Afterwards, Bruno took us to see the local furniture factory he's restarting with beautiful local wood.


On our way home: baby cuddling, hen style. :-)

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