Day 275-277 Baracoa



Baracoa, the town famous for cacao and it's beautiful beach. 



2/16 Thu


I woke up and found out it was raining. I didn't expect rain for this season.




We waited for the rain to stop and left at 6:30. Still dark. We talked to the camion driver but he wouldn't make it cheaper than 45Cuc.




Camion doesn't have a reclining seat, but it was comfortable than I expected. There were break times which stopped at small towns and we could have some snacks such as a sandwich, pizza and a lemonade.




We arrived to Guantanamo (a town between Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa) at 10:30pm. A taxi driver told us there is a bus to Baracoa that arrives at 3:30am, so we decided to stay at the bus terminal.





The town was so quiet, but the disco was so packed that I thought every young person in the city had been there.
It looked like a club, but there were some people dancing salsa in the corner.
We also danced a bit, and went back to the bus terminal at 2:30am. One of the taxi driver seem to like me, and offered us to take us to Baracoa, but we took the 3:30am bus. 


2/17 Fri


The bus arrived at 7am. I slept very well in the reclining seat. As soon as we got off, many casa runners came up to us and said, "Come to my casa!!" "No, my Casa is the best!!"

They were so noisy that I shouted and most of them ran away, except one woman who kept on following us.

We found a nice casa with a nice owner.




We signed up for a tour to visit the cacao farms and scenic spots.




First, we went to a Cacao farm. Baracoa is the only place in Cuba which produces cacao, and there is only one chocolate factory in the whole country. That means all the chocolate in Cuba is made here. This farm used to be the biggest farm, but was destroyed by the cyclon which attacked last October, so there were very few trees left. Our guide taught us a lot about Cacao.




There are three kinds of cacao beans (red, green and brown), and they all get yellow to orangish when it gets ripe. Here they harvest the three kinds mixed together.




Each tree blooms 3000 flowers (tiny and yellow) every year, but they only pollinate by a specific ant or fly, so only 80 fruits per year. The season comes twice a year, which means only 40 fruits in one season.




The season for cacao generally comes twice a year, but here in Baracoa, where they have barely no seasons and lots of rain (three times more rain then the rest of the country), the season comes every five and a half months. That means the season becomes one month earlier every year, so you can't say like May is the season for cacao. It wasn't the season when we came so it was hard to find a flower or a fruit.




Cacao beans grow directly from the trunk or branch, and it doesn't drop on its own so you harvest it with a machete or otherwise it will remain on the tree and dry out.





They also grow coffee, banana palm (coco and dates), and acacia. Cacao and coffee likes the shade, and the bananas and palms provide it.





The dates are for pigs. There are no edible dates in Cuba.





Then we went to the cacao and coffee farmer's house to see the process of making chocolate.




When you open the cacao bean, the white fruit shows up. The fruit is sweet and sour, tastes like lychee. If you bite the seed, you can see that it's purple. They ferment the seed with the fruit for a month. The fruit turns into a liquid, and cacao liquor is made from this.





Coffee contains only 0.1% of oil, so it becomes powder when you grate it, but cacao, which contains 54% oil, turns into a paste. In the factories they use a special machine to extract the oil, but here they don't have a machine so they put hot water and leave it for three days so the oil comes on top. (The water dries out)

This oil is called cacao butter and it's often used in cosmetics. The remain is cacao mass. The local people add some water or milk and sugar to the cacao mass and drink it. It was the first time for me to try cocoa without sugar. The handmade chocolate with honey was also good. They add cacao butter, milk and sugar to make chocolate. White chocolate is made from cacao butter, milk and sugar. They use the shell of the cacao fruit for fertilizers. Nothing to waste.






Then we went on beautiful viewpoints and down to a small village, Mata. There are only 400 people living here, but in Cuba every single village has three things-- a church, a clinic, and a primary school.




Boca de Yumuriという川と海が入り混じる河口へ。このYumuriの地名には悲しい歴史があるという。スペイン人がやってきてこの土地に金を見つけ、先住民たちに採掘させていたのだが、そんなことをするぐらいなら死んだほうがマシだ。Yo mori と言って崖から川に飛び降りて自殺する人があとを絶たなかったという。そんな悲しい歴史とは裏腹に川は美しい。ガイドに促されるがままにそのまま川遊び。水が冷たくて気持ちがいい。本物のココナッツウォーターも飲んだ。


We went to Boca de Yumuri (mouth of Yumuri) where the river and ocean meets. The name Yumuri has a sad story. When the Spanish came and found gold in this place, they forced the indeginous people to dig it, but the indeginous people said they would rather die "yo muri" than doing that, and many people jumped off the cliff into the river. The river is so beautiful however that it's hard to imagine they had such a sad story. We bathed in the rivers and had coconut water from a real coconut. 





Then we went to a restaurant in front of the beach. I ordered a lobster, and was surprised to have three!! The guy in the restaurant taught me salsa. What a paradise!!






Casa Sandra

+53 54258589

Primero de Abril #47

Julio A Mella y Libertad




20CUC for 2 people including breakfast, but I negotiated down to 18. The breakfast was great, especially the hot chocolate. Sandra is very nice and helpful.