Costa Rica Day 9 – The Chocolate tour and the Tortuguero adventure

It had been a rather interesting night having been woken by the howler monkeys at 3 am, then repeatedly for about 90 minutes whilst they started their day. In spite of this lack of sleep we were all at the hotel lobby with our luggage by 6.45 am!

Another delicious breakfast and today the bird feed station was visited by a hummingbird as well as many of the birds that we had seen the day before. Then by 7.45 am we had departed and were on our way to the chocolate tour.

Our tour guide for this talk was Charlene who entertained us very well, with Don Juan as her helper and chief ‘Willy Wonka’ as she called him!
They explained that the beans are firstly fermented with sugar, water and bacteria. Following fermentation the beans are dried (which can take several days). The beans are then roasted and at this point we were given a sample of a roasted bean, which tasted of rich cocoa (slightly bitter but a good flavour). The shells are then removed (using a large pestle and mortar) leaving the nibs.
Charlene and Don Juan then got volunteers to use the volcanic stone slab and heated piece of volcanic rock as a grinder (similar principle to a rolling pin – but used with a grinding action). This grinding produces cocoa liquor (which is can be mixed with sugar to give a malleable paste (and which tasted devine!).
After pressing (to remove the cocoa butter) the cocoa is ground further, and we were told that the owner of Lindt factory had accidentally left the grinding machine on all weekend and therefore arrived on Monday to find a very fine powder which gave rise to the finest flavours of chocolate!
Charlene explained how cocoa is dried and sold, whilst Don Juan prepared some cocoa to pour on fresh pineapple as a tasty snack (they allowed us to add our own flavours, vanilla, salt, chilli flakes or nutmeg to our chocolate) and also explained the process of making the chocolate itself and we were able to sample milk and dark chocolate.
After such sweet treats, we thanked Charlene and Don Juan time we felt ready to take on our long journey to the East.
we passed many hectares of banana plantation and eventually arrived at a port where we were whisked into a boat for 90 minutes to complete our journey.
No sooner had we set off when we saw a crocodile, and then several turtles, herons and egrets.
On arrival at the Evergreen Lodge we were met with a cool lemon and ginger welcome drink. After a good cool down in the swimming pool followed by dinner, the revision session started for those with exams this summer.
We all went to bed and set our alarms ready to meet for tomorrow’s 6 am boat trip……….except in one room there lurked a rather large spider…….