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Wednesday 28 May
Mindo, Ecuador

Jade and the chocolate factory

As we were sitting having breakfast this morning we heard a yelp- and saw a dog dragging its partner across the road – attached by their genitals! They were stuck and so had to just wait but it was a bit off putting as we ate our breakfast!! Add to that, as they got unstuck R exclaimed “oh my god its willy has come off!!!!”- (it actually hadn’t the boy was the one on the floor but we thought that was the girl)…. Add to that we were drinking an Amazonian fruit juice which tasted a bit like blood- it was all a bit of a grim start to the day!!!

We hiked a few kilometres out of town- amazed by the stunning rainforest flowers and birds. We saw a hummingbird close up which never ceases to be amazing. We then got a very rickety old cable car thing across the valley. It was being powered by some kind of converted car engine. The view over the valley was lovely. As we got to the other side he said to call the cable car back to pick us up we should kick the cable and they will see it wiggle from the other side! We spent the rest of the morning hiking a trail around lots of waterfalls. I started feeling very creepy with the spider-webs and ants- once I started thinking about insects I kept thinking they were landing on me.

On our walk back we saw the most amazing sight- wild toucans- 7 or more- at one point there were 5 in one tree. They had beaks half black, half yellow. It was unbelievable to see them by the roadside! On the way back R tried ‘zip-lining’ through the tree canopy in the pouring rain- across the valley on a slow line then back on a 400m fast line.

The rain came down heavy and we got completely soaking- I had tried to duck tape up my walking boot hole but it came off pretty quickly.

In the afternoon we went to an artisanal chocolate maker for a tour on how chocolate was made. It was so interesting we really knew nothing when we went in. Did you know that cocoa tree’s were originally from Ecuador in the Amazon? We saw a growing cocoa tree in the garden with the flowers and fruits- it takes 6 months for the flower to grow a fruit with the cocoa beans in. Once they are grown the beans along with the fruit are put in a box to ferment for 9 days in 3 boxes. She opened one of the beans and it is purple inside at that stage- it only goes brown through the fermentation process. Then they are dried out. Once dried they are roughly ground and sieved so the bean shell is removed. Then they are roasted for an hour whilst being turned. The flakes are put into a machine and come out as a paste- 100% cocoa. Then the can remove the cocoa butter and leave pure cocoa, or add sugar to make chocolate (each bean is 50% cocoa and 50% cocoa butter). To make white chocolate they add the cocoa butter, milk and sugar. Then it is put into the moulds. We saw all the parts of the process in their little factory. We also got to taste the 100% paste and then add sugar to taste chocolate as we know it, then chilli and ginger mixed. It was so interesting to taste how they put the components together. I really loved seeing the process. In their café R had a liquor hot chocolate- with tequila, salt, chilli, cacao liquor, cinnamon, whipped cream.

Afterwards we went to a local restaurant and had a steak cooked on a hot stone- so served sizzling- gorgeous. We had such a lovely day in Mindo it’s a brilliant place to be. We snuggled up on our terrace place under our blanket- rain outside, watching a film- bliss.

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