Toledo Stories and Tips

Visit to a Local Cacao Farm

Rain! Photo, Toledo, Belize

In the afternoon on my second day of the trip we visited a local cacao farm.

Eladio Pop and his gracious family served up a delicious lunch which included fresh juice, chicken, potatoes, homemade corn tortillas, rice and beans.

It poured rain for an hour while we ate and his thatched roof built by hand kept us dry as could be.

After our meal, we went outside where his family showed us how to make Mayan cacao drink. It is more reminiscent of coffee than the hot chocolate we enjoy.

First we roasted the cacoa beans and some allspice over the coals. Next we crunched the spice and beans with rocks. One of Eladio's daughters separated the shells from the beans. Then we used a corn grinder to turn the beans and spice into a cacao paste. The paste is mixed with hot water and that is Mayan cacoa. You can sweeten it or add milk if you wish, but Eladio and his family drink it plain.

After enjoying the cocao drink, it was off to Eladio's farm. I had pictured a cocao farm looking like an orchard with neatly lined up trees. My perception was corrected when we found that we were going on a jungle tour led by Eladio and his machete.

We saw many cacao trees, banana trees, palm and other local produce. Eladio showed us one of his camps where he was drying corn that he had grown on his land. Our host chopped down fruits and opened them with his machete for us to try.

The rain cooled the surroundings for a bit and that likely kept the mosquitoes at bay. As the day wore on, the temperature rose again and we were happy to head back to the lodge to freshen up.

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