Sunday, May 1, 2011


I'm back in the capital.  The last five weeks were CBT (community based training), and we in the education sector were in a pueblo in the East, learning about education and computers and working with local high school students.  For now, we're just hanging around in Santo Domingo waiting until Tuesday when we find out where we'll be living for the next two years.

On one of the last days of CBT, we took a tour of a Cacao (Chocolate) factory and farm.  It wasn't really related to our work in the PC, but nobody was complaining about visiting a chocolate factory!

A Cacao tree with fruit

If you split open the fruit early, the seeds are covered in a sweet white layer, which tastes a little like mango.  It's pretty good, but there isn't much on each seed and it's hard to eat, so the real value of Cacao is letting the seeds ripen further and turning them into chocolate!

Overripe Cacao fruit with the seeds spilling out.

Once the seeds are harvested, they're left to ferment for a few days in big bins.

The fermented beans are collected in bags

Then they're taken to a greenhouse to dry out.

We cracked some open and tasted them.  They were extremely bitter...the darkest dark chocolate possible!

There's more processing that goes on, but I could follow what all the machines did

The beans are then packed into bags and shipped around the world.  Nestle is a big buyer, but it sounds like China is trying to buy out the DR's cacao production
We finished our tour of the Cacao farm with lunch and a great view.  Really, everybody thinks the Peace Corps is a lot more difficult than it is.  Then again, I'm still technically in training.

All the stages: tree, fruit, various stages of bean, processed, and fermented in to (surprisingly delicious) chocolate wine.

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