Chuao Chocolate Town in Venezuela


Who doesn't love chocolate? I know I do. But every time I was nibbling on a slab of creamy milk chocolate with hazelnuts, I never really stopped to think where all that goodness comes from. Until I went to a little colonial town on the Venezuelan coast called Choroni.

                           
                             This photo of Choroni is courtesy of TripAdvisor

My travel buddy and I were staying here for some beach time after having spent a couple of days in Caracas when we decided to venture out and explore the surrounding area a little bit. So we went on a tour to Chuao which is famous for its high quality cocoa beans.


                  This photo of Choroni is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We were picked up by our guide on Choroni beach where we were taken by boat to nearby Puerto Colombia. The village of Chuao is surrounded by thick rain forest and mountains and there is no real road access leading to it. So from this small port town we set off and walked for about an hour through lush landscapes while our guide talked about the history of the area and the chocolate history. She showed us the cocoa pod which felt really rough from the outside. The guide opened one up for us and nestled inside were 5 juicy slices which surprisingly tasted delicious. Kind of like a lychee. She explained that the beans are the stones inside the fruits and these are used to make chocolate.


                  This photo of Choroni is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What happens is that after the pods are harvested, the skin gets discarded. The cocoa beans and the juicy pulp then go through a sweating or fermentation process where the pulp liquefies until you're left only with the beans. These are collected and laid out to dry in the sun in the middle of the town's square for about a week or two. You'd never expect it, with its end result being so tasty, but these drying beans stink. So much so that it would almost put you off eating chocolate for ever. Almost. When they're good and dry, they're really to be shipped to all the Lindts, Cadburies and Leonidases in the world where they are magically transformed into bunnies, bars or pralines.

Chuao Chocolate Town in Venezuela
Photo off Flickr by Satre Comunicaciones
After our walk, our guide showed us around the town square where lots of tools and other cocoa bean harvesting equipment was on display. After we'd walked back to Puerto Colombia, we were taken to a secluded beach where we had our own private beach barbecue. And even though there was no chocolate for dessert, it was the best barbecue I ever had.


                  This photo of Choroni is courtesy of TripAdvisor

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