-Charles M. Schulz
Walking into the forest of cacao trees, you instantly fall into a spell – the fresh greenery surrounds you, and you start spotting tree after tree filled with cacao pods of different varieties and colors. Your head spins – this is seriously a dream come true if you’re a chocolate lover. We learned that the entire farm is organic, using natural methods to keep pests away, since rats and woodpeckers are also tempted by the raw cacao. Our tour guide mentioned that one of the best methods to control rats in the farm were snakes and I shuddered, not wanting to encounter any snakes on this tour (which we thankfully did not!) The issue with woodpeckers is that they won’t even eat the fruit; they’ll hammer into the pods and expose the pulp, without consuming it. They’ll then fly away and wait a few days, while the pulp is infested with insects. THEN they’re back, to eat up all the yummy bugs in the pulp. Crazy huh?! To avoid many woodpeckers, scarecrows are strategically placed around the farm.
After falling in love with the surrounding trees and wanting to live alongside them, our guides shared with us the method of harvesting manually. See, not all cacao pods ripen at the same time, so being able to manually detach them from the trees is crucial, so the other pods stay on the tree and finish their cycle.