It is our last day in La Fortuna and we decided to have breakfast outside on the balcony so I could keep my eye on the volcano to see if the top ever cleared of clouds. It never did during breakfast.
I did take a photograph of the very large swimming pool at the hotel. It could not have been more than 9 feet at its longest point.
Before returning to San Ramon we are going to visit a chocolate making demonstration in La Fortuna, the town nearest to our hotel. The demonstration started with a talk about the history of chocolate and I was proud to see in 1847 Mr Fry of the United Kingdom was the first maker of chocolate candy bars. I remember from my child hood a candy bar called Fry's Five Boys and in the chocolate were imprinted the faces of 5 boys. After the talk, our guide Kevin took us to see some cocoa trees.
I was surprised to see the cocoa flowers and pods growing directly out of the trunk of a fairly small tree. It was too small to be bothered by monkeys who would feel vulnerable on the low branches. They were however, bothered by squirrels taking the fruit. Kevin then showed us how to open a pod and what the inside looked like. It look like this-
and gave it to us to try, advising us to suck it and not eat it as it would be very bitter. With my lack of sense of taste I could not taste it but Gary said it was rather pleasant (the goo). After the beans have been removed they are dried for 7 days and undergo a color transformation.
Each compartment represents a day with day 7 being in the bottom right hand corner. The beans are then dried for about 7 days in a type of greenhouse. If it is very humid, it may take longer to dry the beans.
After the beans are dried it is time to separate the inside bean from the husk and this is done using a mortar and pestle.
We now have a substance that looks like this-
Kevin then brought out a melted chocolate mix that had had sugar added and had us try this hot, chocolaty liquid. We were told we could have as much as we liked of this mix. It was certainly better than anything I had tasted before so I did have seconds. Gary had thirds, I think. The demonstration ended with Kevin handing out small bags of cocoa beans which we could keep or hand back in for 2 pieces of hardened chocolate. Gary kept his bag of beans and I handed mine back in for the 2 pieces of chocolate. Again, I was not too keen so I gave Gary one of the pieces of chocolate and thus ended our chocolate demonstration.
In the grounds of the cocoa plantation were some plants I had not seen before.
On our journey to the post office, we got a super view of Arenal Volcano with its top free of clouds. Yippee!
We are now back in our "home" and getting ready for our next trip to the Irazu Volcano. This volcano has a paved trail up to the top so that you can take your car up to see the crater. See you then.