Friday, March 3, 2017

3-3-2017 Mayan Chocolate Making Tour

Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Paul at Maya Center Village. We did not check out the Butterfly Farm (another time, perhaps), but we did walk down to the creek.

This is where the local Mayan women come to wash their clothes.

We came for the Mayan chocolate making tour, so we headed in to Che'il Mayan Chocolate Factory to inquire about it. (Che'il Mayan Chocolate is our favorite chocolate in the country for both of us.)

There were enough in our group that Julio, the owner, gave us a private tour and started it early for us. We started at the cacao farm across the road, where the farmer Narsiso (sp?) gave us a tour of the grounds.

The cacao fruits grow on every part of the tree - branches and trunk!

Narsiso opened a cacao pod for us to reveal the white seeds inside. You can take one of those
and suck on it until the sweet fleshy meat around the seed is gone. The flavor is delicious,
though the texture is a bit slimy.

The inside of the cacao seed - the seeds are dried and roasted and ground into chocolate.

Discarded sample cacao - how beautiful!

After seeing the farm, we went back to the factory to make our chocolate.

Owner, Julio, explaining how cacao is processed to become the various products they sell (i.e. chocolate, cacao nibs, roasted
cacao beans, cacao powder, cacao tea, cacao vinegar, cacao wine, etc.). He still uses the same basalt grinding stone that his
mother, grandmother and great-grandmother used - it's 150 years old!

Cacao in various states of processing, and some finished products.

Everyone took their turn grinding the cacao, which liquefied it. Here is John's turn.

Mom (Nancy) taking her turn

Neighbor Dean's turn

Neighbor Janine's turn...okay, I won't go through them all...

Cocoa oil and sugar are added

No milk is added, so we made dark chocolate (about 70% dark).

Then, more grinding...  Uncle Paul was one of the best at this, according to Julio.
Paul got lots of practice in!

Julio scraped the chocolate into the molds, and they went into the freezer. After about 15 minutes
we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and it was delicious! This is a great tour!

That evening we went up to a friend's rooftop deck to enjoy the view.

We just missed the sunset, but it was still a nice view.

That night the folks went home early, and we headed to Windschief Beach Bar. It had happened that Eric tied Luckie for the
lowest round of the month, so they had to have a play-off round.

It drew a large crowd of spectators. Good thing Eric is not affected by outside pressure, and he beat Luckie.

After that Luckie and Eric teamed up in foosball and beat our friend Terry and his son Greg.

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