FIELD TRIP # 1
Trinidacito is found four-hours downstream of the River Chapare where, eventually, a cluster of dugouts and well-trodden, grassless slopes signal the way in. Like other remote settlements along the river, Trinidacito is both the home and life of indigenous people inhabiting the lowland areas of Bolivia. They have been here for a long time.
Situated as they are, the river is essential; it is water to cook with, clean clothes and bathe in. And, of course, it brings fish. The abundant plantain makes up a good part of breakfast and now the harvest of wild cacao is steadily providing a more reliable income for these communities.
The people of Trinidacito, with others – from settlements up and downstream – are part of a cocoa recollection project managed by REPSA. Initiated in 2011, the projects’ ongoing objective is to increase the quality of the entire harvest process, thus ensuring a better result for the people who carry out it out. This work also re-enforces the importance and value of non-timber products to come out of the forest.
This particular recollection system is now – after what sounds like three years of hard work together with ARCASY* – Fairwild certified. It stands alone in this certification, completely unique and the only cacao in the world to be recognised as so. Fairwild is an interesting organization if you have time to look it up. → http://www.fairwild.org
Joining as part of the REPSA team for an assembly, I watched people over the four days. They were welcoming and with a first glance, somewhat more friendly and content than their contemporaries in the bigger cities.
The 2013 wild harvest will commence in February and I really hope to return to Trinidacito at some point, because, at times it is nice to take your evening bath in the river and be part of this life for a moment.
*ARCASY: The Association of Cacao Collectors on the River Chapare.