We’d like to welcome the newest member of our team, Jordan Cas! Last month we sent him to Mr. Eladio’s cacao farm to conduct some fieldwork. There he got a tour of the farm and witnessed the source of the ever indulgent sweet we have all come to know as chocolate. This is his experience.
The tour began with a small hike from where the van had parked to Mr. Eladio’s cacao farm. Along with a lovely couple and their son, I walked up the narrow and muddy trail in the forest. Standing in between two cacao trees was a glossy faced tanned man. He stood with a huge smile that screamed welcome and wore a braided thin head band fashioned out of jippi jappa leaves. He was clad in mud boots, an old shirt, and a large machete was attached to his pants. With a closer look, it was apparent that he was also wearing a single strapped mini rucksack carrying his lunch, which he later explained was also made of jippi jappa leaves. His overall appearance meant he was ready for another day of hard laborious work.
Mr. Eladio eagerly started the tour by proudly pointing out the sign he made notifying his guests of their arrival at the cacao origins. The farm covers a whopping 30 acres of land and along the way he enthusiastically told his story and how cacao is grown, harvested, and made into brown liquid gold. During the tour we discovered where “hearts of palm” comes from and was able to harvest it ourselves immediately having a bite of it in the middle of the forest. In addition, we picked directly from the ground and trees some of the common Belizean herbs and fruits including coconuts, coriander, cilantro, and yellow ginger (known by most as turmeric).
However, my favorite part of the tour, of course, was tasting cacao seeds right out of the pods. He generously opened different types of cacao pods and passed them around. The seeds were wrapped in what I can only describe as soft white honey clouds – definitely not what we had expected! Towards the end of the tour Mr. Eladio bid us adieu as the guide lead us to his home – he stayed behind to continue tending to his farm. Arriving at his home, Mr. Eladio’s family let us have many samples of the chocolate treats they had made. Their home is welcome to guests where Mr. Eladio’s family serve an authentic Mayan lunch.
Mr. Eladio provides cacao beans to Maya Mountain Cacao which is a supplier to many international chocolate companies where they make their own chocolate – one of which is Green & Black’s Organic in the UK. The aim is to connect smaller local cacao farmers to larger international businesses. We at TIDE Tours understand the importance of supporting Belize’s local businesses and are proud to have Mr. Eladio’s Chocolate Adventure as a part of our tours.