After a busy week with classes and activities, we were all looking forward to our trip outside the city. The first week of the program culminated in an excursion to a cacao farm and some time getting to know the city of Puerto Plata and its beautiful beaches.
Hacienda Cufa (Cacao)
Before getting to dip our toes en el mar, we stopped by Hacienda Cufa, a nearby cacao farm to learn about the process of making chocolate. Hacienda Cufa is a community-owned, organic cacao farm that was started by Don Cufa and his family. The farm doesn’t have just cacao plants—we learned about a wide variety of native and introduced plants and trees that all grow together and support the process of growing the cacao. Some included mango, coffee, limoncillo, tamarind, and medicinal plants. The shade offered by the other trees is necessary for the success of the cacao plant, so it’s a very symbiotic relationship. Plus, the fruit produced by the trees (like mangos, limoncillos and tamarind) can be consumed by the community.
The reality of working a cacao farm isn’t all work with no play. Traditionally, the whole family is part of the process and they all spend time together in the hacienda. They showed us how the kids sometimes go “sledding” on toboganes that come from trees in the farm. Some adventurous students tried it out!
We tasted the fresh fruit of the cacao (sweet and yummy), the toasted bean (warm, crunchy and dark), mashed beans (softer and chocolatey), and finally some finished products (súper delicioso!) Hacienda Cufa sells cacao products you can eat, use to wash your body, and even have a spa day with. Many students took advantage of the opportunity to buy some items for families and friends after trying some of it.
After their spa time and having a snack, we made our way to Puerto Plata for a scavenger hunt, lunch, and the beach time que tanto anhelábamos.
Hope to see you soon playa!