Costa Rica / Choco Rica was a fantastic experience! We had the chance to travel around the entire country all while learning about chocolate, culture, and people on the way. We moved from the mountains to the flat lands and from cloud forest to the city. The differences between the places were very visible especially when it came to the buildings, the weather, the food, the people, and even the shops.

Visiting cacao farms gave me a perspective of how difficult it was to grow cacao trees and harvest the actual beans. There are different varieties of the bean and only some of them are used for high quality chocolate. Growing the actual trees takes a couple of years and it is definitely an investment since the trees are sensitive. I only wish the farmers got paid more for their labor. It makes me consider fair trade more than I already have.

The process of making chocolate is also an art and a science. There is a particular way to process it to make a smooth, snap-like, shiny chocolate bar. We visited some small scale places and one big factory. The principle behind it is similar but the amount and attention is different; small scale chocolatiers paid closer attention to the details and all the flavor notes of the chocolate while the larger scale producers focused on quantity and demand for chocolates. I personally preferred the taste of the small scale chocolates.

My favorite excursion was definitely Zip-lining above the canopy of the cloud forest. It was such an amazing feeling and the view was breathtaking. The mountains surrounded the lush green of the trees and made for a beautiful image as I flew through the sky.

My absolute favorite part of the trip was being able to do all of this with my new friends. I didn’t know I would get so close to people in such a short time. I love you guys. I enjoyed every minute of the trip because of them and our faculty members who come with us. If I could do it again…I would do it 110%.

Until next time Costa Rica! Pura Vida!