Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 18 – Panama, Orlando Lozada’s farm

We spent the morning looking around the mainland town of Almirante, after taking a boat from Hotel Angela. Later after an hour on a bus we were given a lift through what seemed like miles of banana plantations, finally arriving at the farm and family home of Orlando Lozada, the cacao farmer who has been ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 17 – Panama

A chance to relax and get a lie-in in Panama City before catching our afternoon flight to Bocas del Toro, the cacao production and heavy tourist region in the north west of the country. Our connection with Panama stared a couple of years ago when we were contacted by two different ex-pats living in Panama ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 16 – Venezuela reflections

By this morning we were more than ready to leave Venezuela. This leg of the trip had been very rewarding, for me at least, but also frustrating. Next time I’ll know more what to expect. I guess once you get used to the Venezuelan pace of life and the propensity to say ‘no’ as the ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 15 – Venezuela frustrations

Our last full day in Venezuela was full of flight frustrations and banking problems. We’d underestimated how many bolívars we’d need for some of our taxis, and once again I had to go through the painful process of trying to withdraw money from a Venezuelan bank – I had a supply of dollars, always a ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 13 – Paria Peninsula, Venezuela

Today we head east to the Paria Peninsula to visit the Hacienda San José plantation, the source of beans for some of Domori’s finest chocolate, and also for many other chocolate makers. Our flight to Cumana was in the afternoon though, so in the usual spirit of this trip of “exactly how many chocolate related ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 12 – Chuao, Venezuela

Chuao. It was only half a plan to get there, but from Puerto Colombia in Choroni it’s a 20 minute boat ride. We had the choice between another plantation in Choroni or taking the boat, in the end Chuao won. We were arriving blind, without an invite or pre-arrangement, but we decided to take our ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 11 – Choroni, Venezuela

Andrés and I took a bus out of Caracas to Maracay, where we’d arranged a taxi to take us on to Choroni, The route took us over the heights outside Caracas, a sudden, winding climb into the hills, with much cooler temperatures and stunning views back to Caracas. A beautiful, dream-like trip through the forest. ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 10 – Caracas, Venezuela

Today, on to Venezuela, which might not have the long history of ancient cacao use that Guatemala has, but in terms of quality, remains the king of cacao. After a mere two hours sleep, a pleasant flight with another stop off in Costa Rica, I arrived in a hot, steamy, Caracas in the afternoon. I ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 9 – Panajachel, Guatemala

Last night stayed up too late talking on the hotel balcony, and I just couldn’t face the trip across the lake the others were planning. So I managed to chill out, watch the volcanos not being active from the balcony and catch up on some writing. After some more shopping and hard bargaining in the ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 8 – Soconusco belt, Guatemala

So, what would you want for you birthday? I quite like the idea of standing in a cacao farm in Soconusco, the most renowned of Aztec growing areas, where the emperor Motecuhzoma had his own personal cacao groves. So, lucky it actually was my birthday then, and according to some superstitions, a very lucky, auspicious ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 7 – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

After enjoying Antigua for far too short a time, and a quick goodbye to Emily Stone in the morning, Edgar Chávez picked up Lourdes, Kate, Tom and I to take us to Quetzaltenango, another well known centre of artisanal chocolate production, where Edgar has his own family run chocolate factory, Chocolate Imperial. After about a ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 6 – Guatemala

A busy schedule today and the start of a few days of intense travelling. We were picked up early by Roberto Deleón, President of ANAKAKAW, who drove us to the Ministry of Economics. ANAKAKAW had arranged a meeting with Lic. Jorge R. Castro Delgado (Lourdes’s namesake), the Vice Minister of Economics, to discuss the cacao ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 5 – Guatemala

Today we moved onto Guatemala, leaving the Dominican Republic behind. The flight stopped off in Costa Rica, giving us an hour and a half in the country and at least we had a chance to buy some good looking coffee and a few chocolate products in the airport. We arrived in Guatemala City at 12 ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 4 – Dominican Republic

We took a day off from cacao today and headed for the beach. In this case, it was Jose Antonio Martinez Rojas’s own beach within the tourist centre of Bavaro, near Punta Cana, in Altagracia province on the north coast. Jose Antonio was one of the first entrepreneur’s to invest in land in this strip ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 3 – Los Ancones, Dominican Republic

Another early start and we were picked up in the impressive Rizek minibus. Idelfonso Medina, my original introduction to the Rizek company back in London in 2005, was detained elsewhere and unable to meet us, so instead we were greeted by Massimiliano Wax, Rizek’s Director of Sales and Marketing. Better known as Max (and hence ..