Saturday, January 11, 2014

Grenada Chocolate factory tour/ 40th anniversary/

So many of my pictures of our mission are lost on my old computer.  The data recovery experts in Provo are working hard, but I called today for an update.  They said it would take three more weeks to know if they can save ANYTHING!!

  OK - the next time you chomp into your favorite chocolate bar or savor the aroma of a steaming cup of hot cocoa, think about this tree and that pod hanging there - God's gift to you - chocolate!  At whole foods, you can buy this organic cocoa from the Grenada chocolate factory.  Look for Grenada Chocolate Factory Chocolate and buy it!  We met the people you will be supporting!  Everything in this entire process from tree to chocolate bar is completely organic and natural.  So cool!
Not popcorn popping, but chocolate pods popping on the Grenada chocolate trees!
 The huge trunk and chocolate pods at the very beginning stage.
 Seriously, they look pretend, plastic or Disneyland.  Nope, they are beautiful chocolate beginnings.
 Our wonderful tour guide - such a nice guy - climbing the tree to grab a chocolate pod to show us.
 Kind of looks like Will Smith, huh?
 Holding the secret to the world's ahhhhhhhh in his hand!
 This is a cinnamon tree!  He cut off a piece of bark for us!  Delicious!  That is how they make cinnamon sticks, just slices of the bark off the tree.  As it drys, it curls and becomes the familiar shape.
Isn't that fascinating looking?  Those are cocoa beans just out of the pod.  They taste fruity!  We sucked on them, and they are sweet, almost pear like and have a texture like mangos.  Each ripe pod is filled with twenty eight to thirty seeds of cocoa.  The field workers go into acres of chocolate trees, manually break open the pods, and leave the thick exterior on the floor of the fields or grind it up for compost.  
 This is what the inside of the cocoa seeds look like.
This is an original bell to call the workers in from the fields for meal time. 
 In the fields, they manually open the pods, slide their fingers under the top beans and then….
strip them all off into bags or bins to transport.
 The beans are taken on open trucks to big wooden bins with slats on the side and dumped in after weighing them.  The workers are paid a very minimal wage based on the number of beans they bring in at the end of the day.  
 It is difficult, manual labor…...
 Here they are weighing and reporting in……..
 Dumping them in the wooden bins, rows upon rows of them…...
 They opened one of the bins to show me the beans underneath a thick covering of banana leaves and burlap.  They stay there for six days…..
 They stay covered to retain the heat as they ferment.  The heat can rise to 113 degrees.  They are turned  every two days and moved to a new bin to be oxygenated as they ferment…...
 The fermenting process is pungent and easily observable as they ooze out the slats.
They are then moved to giant drying platforms where they stay for a week, drying.  Every thirty minutes they are walked on to break them apart and allow oxygen to get between each bean.  
In the old days, they were put into giant old sugar cane bowls, like this antique, and danced upon by drunk field workers to the beat of drums to polish the beans.  
 There are rows upon rows of these platforms of drying beans.  
 Our guide invited me to dance a little on the cocoa beans.  It freaked me out a little to step on them with my bare feet.  They were a little sticky and wet - that's the idea to move them around…….I dunno, maybe it was the whole eating-it-later thing that kept me from breaking out into a mad twirl!  When they are dried, they are put into bags and taken to the chocolate factory down the street.  
 First the beans are put into a huge roaster at very high temperatures and roasted
 Then they are put into the crusher to remove the shells, after which they go through a winnowing screen and the heavy chocolate beans fall to the bottom.  
 These five hundred pound rolling stones turn them into liquid.  Then sugar is added - no dairy products are used.  They call milk chocolate - crap chocolate! hmmmm.  
 Then they put them in this machine that completes the melting and smoothing process
 Some percentage of the chocolate is put into this machine that forces it through twenty thousand pounds of pressure. This separates the cocoa butter from the chocolate.  That is where cocoa butter and white chocolate (not technically chocolate, but a by-product) come from.  The residue is dried and made into powder for hot chocolate and baking cocoa.  
Imagine this delicacy came from those beautiful ripe pods in the tree!
That guy is very skinny for someone whose job is to pour liquid gold into bars all day long!  After the chocolate is poured in, he shakes them to get air bubbles out and sets them on the racks against the walls to set and cool.  
These women take them from the molds and hand wrap them in foil and the outer covering that you will see at whole foods!  Think of them when you buy a few bars!
 At the end of the tour, our friend gave us some local chocolate to try, and we stopped at the gift shop to buy some chocolate gold and some hot chocolate.  It was amazing. Our guide gave us a cup to try at the end of the tour, so we had to take some home! 
Such a fun adventure to see the beginning to the end of something that we take so for granted.  Nothing is simple - every good thing requires tons of effort!
Speaking of every good thing requires continuous effort.  Forty years ago, we were married in the Salt Lake Temple.  We absolutely cannot believe it has been that long.  My mom emailed very sweet wishes for our anniversary and included these pictures.  It is funny looking at this picture in front of the temple doors.  This was a dress my parents bought for me.  It was my "going away" dress.  It was the most expensive dress I had ever had in my life.  I don't think people have "going away" dresses now!  We look like babies!  We were!
 On our anniversary, we went out to dinner at the beach house in Grenada.  It was wonderful and right on the beach.  We had the most amazing grilled lobster!  The best lobster Dad has ever had!  It was right up there with the lobster Ben and I had in the Dominican Republic.
 All the food was amazing, and I thought about my chocolate workers when we had dessert!
 Walking into the Beach House for our anniversary dinner.
 The crazy thing is on the way home to Trinidad from Grenada, we went to the airport and flew to St. Vincent where we were supposed to catch a short flight back to Trinidad.  While waiting there, they came in and said they had no plane because there was smoke in the cabin of our intended plane so we couldn't make our flight home or our flight to Guyana.  We were sad to miss all our scheduled meetings the next day in Guyana, but there was nothing to be done, so we decided to make lemonade out of the lemons and go back to the hotel in Saint Vincent where we had stayed on a previous trip.
Here we were at the bitty airport in St. Vincent, and all the passengers were trying to decide what to do about LIAT - no food vouchers, no cancelled flight, no hotel voucher - just-hang-around and see what happens for twenty four hours.  We opted to stay in St. Vincent.  When we got to the hotel, we decided to go out to the little Island across from our hotel and have a second Anniversary dinner.  Who knows if we will make it to our 50th?  My parents did not, so we decided to begin and travel back through time and remember experiences from every year of our marriage.  It was a sweet stroll down memory lane!
 This tiny blue ferry came to pick us up and ferry us across.
Riding over as the sun set
Stretching out on a hammock on the Island beach before going into dinner, reminiscing on year sixteen.  We laughed and cried - we didn't fight!  Yeah - everything softens looking back!
 Sooooooooooo gorgeous!  This is definitely a destination vacation spot.  Do come here on a vacation.
 We finally got home and had a little rest on the way to gear up for the next trip in a week to Linden and Berbise.  One has to have a clean conscience to fall sound asleep in three seconds absolutely anywhere!  I seriously enjoy looking at him and counting silently in my head 1000, 1001,1002, 1003 and he is GONE!  How would it be?  I thrash around all night long…..hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
All I can say is this photo says it all!  We had to go to the plastic store - I AM & CO. and pick up things for our two zones of missionaries - that's it! - we are shopping here on the two days a week the guns aren't around!

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