Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mastatal - La Iguana

Our final stop - La Iguana Chocolate in Mastatal! 
Setting off from Quepos, we had breathtaking drive up and down a bumpy gravel road with spectacular views. A few hours later, we pulled up to the chocolate shop/garden/house and we knew we were in paradise.


Before unloading our bags, Lidia sat us down to a cup of cacao tea and chocolate/nib cookies. The 2 day chocolate marathon had begun! Cacao grower and chocolatier Jorge joined us to talk about the history of growing cacao in Mastatal and we happily chatted about chocolate (and ate chocolate) into the evening. 

The next morning we set off early to head to the cacao orchard. They normally harvest on a Tuesday (only once a week, due to the 45 min walk to get there), but on account of our visit they decided to harvest a day early. In the slightly cooler hours of the morning we felt felt energetic and keen to help with the harvest! 
We criss crossed the orchard looking for ripe pods. Because they only come up here once a week, they need to make sure they collect pods that are getting close to fully ripe as well, otherwise the next week they may find the squirrels have helped themselves to the harvest. Ripe and nearly ripe pods we cut down and put in our sacks. 

Jorge stopped from time to time to tell us about various plants and soil management.

We talked about the importance of orchard maintenance for controlling moniliasis. Any infected pods we came across needed to be buried in the soil so that they could decompose and not spread the spores to other pods.

When our sacks were full we returned to the lower part of the orchard. Jorge went back to collect more pods and check on the rest of the trees. He left us to cut open the pods and separate the seeds. 

It was great, gooey fun! 

After we had finished up all the pods, the sacks were loaded up on "Blue-Blue" and we started the journey back to the house...

Our morning eagerness waned in the afternoon heat, but we did our best to keep up with Jorge and Juan Luis. 

Once back at the house, we put the beans in the fermenting box. 
Then Lidia gave us some juice to rehydrate ourselves! 
After a restorative lunch, we were lucky to have a tropical downpour, which lasted over an hour and gave us an excuse to rest and regain our energy.

                 Motivation was further boosted by an abundant consumption of chocolate! 
        We spent the rest of the day in the kitchen making, eating and chatting chocolate and           wondering why we would ever want to leave...


Muchas gracias to Jorge, Vicki, Lidia and Juan Luis for sharing 
their beautiful home and amazing chocolate with us! 

I'm happy to say, that they also shared with me some of their incredible cacao beans. Coming soon...limited edition "Costa Rica - Mastatal" bars! 

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