This site has always been about my relationship with chocolate. It’s written, edited, and designed from my perspective, and even when I reach out for other voices, they’re more often synthesized than quoted.
The last couple of years have been difficult on a global scale, and on a personal level, I’ve been dealing with health issues that make my day-to-day really difficult. But six-and-a-half years ago, back when the site was still primarily a chocolate bar review site and a diary of my travels in Latin America, I embarked upon a project, a challenge if you will, that began to change my perspective of who I was maintaining this site before.
The project was my first foray into producing and maintaining an online presence for someone other than myself, and it still lives on my Instagram, today. Since I haven’t posted in several weeks, this seemed like the perfect time to formally share that project on the site and take a cultivated stroll down memory lane. Some of the photos I’ve chosen are cute, others are funny, but all are real. They’re even in different languages, not just English and Spanish, but also Danish and French. This is by no means the entire collection from the project, some of which was permanently deleted from my profile a few years ago, but it is a selection of the most varied stories I could capture.
As much as this is a project for and about other people, it still sort of documents my own journey, going back and forth from the cacao plantation to the café, and then eventually to the Galapagos Islands. I suppose we can never really take ourselves out of our work.
Settling Into La Finca
About two hours north of Ecuador’s capitol city of Quito, you’ll find a beautiful coffee farm, where cacao and citrus trees grow. The people who find themselves as your co-workers will be some of the most varied and interesting people you’ll meet in all of your travels around the country.
Then Into Quito
Unfortunately your luggage was left in Mexico City on your way from Guatemala to Ecuador, so after just a few days you had to return to Quito to make the long trip to the airport to recover your luggage. One outfit for 5 days is simply not enough.
Día 6: Yesenia & Marisol “El trabajo en el campo es realmente duro pero, a la vez resulta ser muy productivo para un pais.” [Yesenia] “Yo vivo en el campo y mi familia siempre ha tenido un terreno grande para cultivar legumbres como papas, maíz, frijol y otras frutas… nuestra relación con la agricultura antes fue fácil; ahora con los químicos es muy difícil.” [Marisol]
Before Returning to Pacto
The people you meet range from those completely uninterested in agriculture to those who consider it the only source of happiness and peace in the world.
Traveling Around Ecuador
On the occasions on which you make it out of the city or off the farm, you feel blessed to see so many sides of this beautiful country, from the ecotourism hot spot of Mindo to the beach side town of Salinas. Looking back, you’ll only wish you’d taken more weekends to yourself.
Dag 45: Anne “For mig er landbrug noget helt specielt, som hele vores samfund er bygget op på. Mad er ligesom noget af det vigtiste vi mennesker har brug for:) desværre er den måde vi dyrker landbrug på ikke længere så naturlig som den burde og vi har over flere årtider udnyttet og forgiftet vores jorde! Heldigvis er vi blevet mere opmærksomme på det og flere forstår at økologisk landbrug er den eneste korekte måde at dyrke landbrug på!”
Day 50: Zac “Well it’s the basis of the civilization in which we all live… In the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge, they’re cast out of this idyllic system in which the bounty of the earth around them provides for all their needs. Adam was cursed to only gain food to eat from the sweat of his brow and the toil of his hands. I think that was intended as a metaphor for the invention of agricultural. We are cast into a system which is often uncomfortable, often brutal for many of it’s members and is deeply unnatural. But in exchange we get the power to change the world around us, the knowledge which gives us the power of the gods.”
One Final Farm Visit
After over two months of constant back and forth, this is your last stint at the farm, so you plan to make it count. Picking each coffee cherry brings another potential last surprise, while every other cold shower reminds you why farm life isn’t really for you.
Day 62: Mathieu “For not being a farmer, it’s given me a new life. I couldn’t tell you what a tree was six years ago; I’m serious, I couldn’t tell a tree from a bush, but now I feel like it’s changed my life. I mean I never considered myself a tree-hugger before, but now I’m more of a tree-hugger, to put it in American terms.”
A Trip to Galapagos
Before you leave for good, for now, you manage to get yourself to San Cristobal for a most reasonable price. The experience is unreasonably exquisite.
Day 70: Galapagos Tortoise “Dammit, you found me, now leave! You whippersnappers are always interrupting my constant meals of banana leaves with your requests for selfies, and I am having no more of it. Let me get back to my tiny dinosaur existence; I already had to learn Spanish a couple of centuries ago.” #NoFilter
Day 73: Max “Growing up, I just ate whatever was given to me, generally having little to no idea as to where it came from. But as I got older, my curiosity was piqued regarding where my food came from, and I realized that everything starts in the ground. Todo viene de la tierra. As my relationship with my food grew, so in turn did my relationship with the earth. Yes, even the ants. So despite not owning a farm or ever having milked a cow, I consider myself to be chummy with my food, keeping a wary eye on the agriculture industry as I hug my chocolate bars closer.”
I hope this post has made your own relationship to agriculture even more precious. Read more about my adventures in chocolate here.