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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Dominican Experience 2011 - Day Six Feb 23

The town of Hato Mayor

This day is my favourite day of the whole experience!  Again we were allowed to get up at a reasonable hour.  Ricardo joined us for the day to be our guide (he was one of our full time guides last year)  Wally was waiting for us with the bus this morning and we drove to Hato Mayor.

Pedro and Ricardo being goofs

Beautiful scenery

Coffee beans drying in the sun

Hato Mayorr is one of the areas where coffee and cocoa is grown, its mountainous and beautiful!  When we arrived in town we got off the bus and into the back of a truck where we stood in the back for the drive into the mountains.  It was nice to stand there in the sun and the wind as we drove though he mountains enjoying the stunning views.

Mondesto talking about cocoa

Sadly this year we didn't get to do the guided cocoa tour that we did last year.  I feel like we missed out on a lot of cool information/stuff that I learnt last year about Fair Trade Cocoa.  We were taken to meet Mondesto one of the local farmers who belonged to the Fair Trade co-operative in the area.  Oh boy he was a character!  He was very proud to show us the picture of Jesus he had drawn in pen on his hand.

These pods contain cocoa beans

Ricardo showing us the insides, the cocoa beans

We were shown what a cocoa tree was, and the cocoa pod that grows on the tree.  Ricardo cracked open one of the pods to show us what cocoa looks like in its raw form.  We were each given a bean and told we could suck on it.  It was a little tart and a little sweet.  He told us about how they ferment and dry the cocoa beans, how there are two quality levels, and the various products made with it.  Also you can use the heart/stalk from the inside and make marmalade from it.

Young cocoa tree

Mondesto actually grows cocoa plants which are sold to the cocoa farmers.  He harvests the beans from the pods and lays them out in the sun, he waters them over an 8 day process to germinate the seeds.  After the 8 days have passed he takes the seed and presses it into some soil in a little black plastic bag.  Before you know it, you've got a cocoa tree growing!

Mondesto and I

The owners of our amazing view

You could see for miles!

After leaving Mondesto's farm we got back in the truck and moved further up into the mountains.  We stopped at a piece of land owned by a poor family.  This piece of land had the most breathtaking view that went on for miles!  We had lunch then, we were instructed to find a quiet spot and reflect in an hour in silence.  The view was just so breathtaking I wanted to cry!  As I spent my time by myself I thought about what I had seen and done over the last few days.  I also thought about myself, my life, and where I was going from there.  If this isn't an exercise you've ever done before, go find a quiet beautiful spot, with no distractions and no electronics just sit there, and let your mind wander.

When our time was up we came back together again for discussion.  Before we were allowed to speak we first listened to John Lennon's "Imagine".  We each took our turns to speak.  Today's reflections were incredibly emotional for all of us, to express how deeply this country and its people have touche, moved and changed us in such a short time.  We were coming to a realization that our time there was almost over.


Lana said...

Wow!! What an amazing adventure!!!

Karen said...

How I would love to be surrounded by all that cocoa! ;) What an amazing view!

Alice said...

What a beautiful place!

Carol said...

I've finally caught up on your daily journals, Dani. I've really enjoyed reading about your activities and seeing photos of things I've never seen before (like the inside of the cocoa bean!)... Thanks again for sharing :)

Heather said...

Very cool post, Dani!

Lisa said...

Sounds like a very emotional but uplifting day. Reading about the cocoa beans has made me want chocolate now though lol!