WILD CACAO is a topic vulnerable to romantic exaggeration. It is an exotic thought and our imaginations are strong. It would be easier to write something poetic, but it would be mis-leading.
The Chocolatales of North Eastern Bolivia are half a world away. Masses of land abundant in a concentration of wild growing cacao, they are `islands´, surrounded by trenches; ancient territorial hang-overs, left behind by the people who populated them once before. Hacienda Tranquilidad was built at the heart of a chocolatal approximately ten years ago and is at the centre of a fine, wild harvest in this particular area of the Beni Department.
For the families here, the cacao is a crop and an opportunity to increase their income for a couple of months each year. It is also a nice fruit to suck on when you are walking through the forest. Wild harvest commences any time between November – March but right now, with most of the pods on the old and knuckled trunks still green, it looks like harvest will come closer to the end of that spectrum this year.
There is no doubting the beauty of this area. It´s like I have been asleep for five weeks, in a dream. Not because everything in the Beni is perfect - far from it, it is just a different kind of existence, more simplistic and you adapt without realising.
I will return to Tranquilidad at the end of February, to milking the cows each morning, running through the chocolatales each evening and to trees decorated with yellow pods, ready for the wild harvest of 2013.
Life is simple. No more, no less.
Pretty content right now. Next chapter in March. See you then.