I am interested in getting feedback regarding where people want to travel over the next few years so I can start planning.
I have two programs in the works for October 2011 -
I am also considering organizing a trip to Bali.
Where else to you want to go? Would you prefer European city tours (Belgium, Spain, Italy) or are trips to cocoa-growing countries preferred? Caribbean - Grenada? South America - Ecuador/Peru?
Where do you want to go?
convenient to the cacao plantations.
Clay (and all),
I would love to invite you all to Peru. I currently work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Buenos Aires, Piura which is at the extreme north of the country. I work with a group of cacao growers with 55 hectares of what they call Criollo Cacao (40% blanco 60& violeta). All of their cacao is organic and free trade. Although I only work with one organization, I can also help put you in contact with other groups in the region. Lately, the Piura's cacao has been making headlines, so I thought perhaps you'd all like to come visit.
I'm helping organiz a mini-Cacao Fair in Piura in the 3rd week June, and APPCACAO is organizing a giant Salon de Chocolate y Cacao in Lima for the 1st week of July. (http://www.salondelcacaoychocolate.pe/)
I'm also more than happy to help with any issues regarding logistics (as finding reliable info via the internet is sometimes quite difficult, especially since most growers don't know how to use computers). I've lived here for almost 2 years now, I so can help you avoid common pitfalls of travel within Peru. :)
I would love to visit a cocoa growing country! You have been around. Which one did you like most? My first thought is the wild beans in Bolivia. What do you think?
I have visited cacao farms in: Hawaii, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Belize, Grenada, and the Dominican Republic. Each is very different and all of them hold special memories for me so it's like trying to pick a "favorite" child.
That's one of the reasons I offer trips to different countries. It's also very important to visit more than one, as the cultural fabric in which cacao is woven is different in each country. That's one of the things I try to do in my trips - put cacao into cultural context - not just cover the mechanics of growing, harvesting, and post-harvest processing. Also, some trips are just physically easier because the tourism infrastructure is there.
If you only visit one or two farms in one country you still have an incomplete knowledge. It's one of the real reasons why I want to go to Bali as I've never visited anywhere in SE Asia ... so my knowledge is incomplete. I have a goal of visiting every cacao-growing area in the world and hope to make it to the majority of countries within each region.
I know Original Beans has a strong connection to the wild cacao of the Beni and so it would be go for you to go there at some point. I was in Bolivia twice in 2010 but I do want to get back there sooner rather than later - it's on my list.
Hello Clay. I would love to connect with you some how. I am headed to Colombia to visit farms and see the process first hand. I would so appreciate any guidance or recommendations in planning such a journey. Are you by any chance heading there yourself over the next few months?
Being Brazilian, I am partial to the northeast region of Brazil called Bahia. They've been growers for many, many years and some of them are actually part of this community.