Saturday, June 30, 2012

Life in Ecuador Day 1 -

Boring title, I know. I just couldn't come up with anything jazzier. Nothing compares to the serene yet dramatic world I have been dropped into. I felt like a little tiny baby being carried in the storks mouth and then gently let down in the jungle forests of Ecuador.

I feel like somewhat of a fool. I have been preparing for this trip for a year. And anybody who knows me knows that I worry. Something in my blood, my genetic makeup. I work so hard at shaking my nervous energy yet sometimes... that only makes it worse. So of course I worried about saying goodbye to my family, snakes, biting flieas, bacteria, the plane ride. You name it, I worried about it. All of that pent up nervous energy made me a bit much to handle on the home front. I thought I had prepared everything. I charged my I-Pod, had all my books ready, purchased two kinds of bug spray, vacillated for days between what shoes to bring and even packed and repacked my bags 3 times. A bit of overkill, I know.

The day finally arrived to get on the plane and say goodbye to my family. We loaded everything up into the car and I fought back the tears all the way to the airport. I haven't left my kids for more than ten days. So a month seemed a bit long yet also well deserved. I had received 3 eamils earlier in the day letting my know that my flight was being delayed, over and over again. Well... that was a little nerve wracking. Then at the airport they let me know that my plane was going to arrive so late that I would end up missing all of my connections. They would have to put me on a flight for tomorrow. What!!??? No saying goodbye? No tears, no getting on a plane to Ecuador? I looked at the poor young agent and thought, this is the time where I am supposed to demand some sort of compensation, some sort of free plane ticket. However, in my flustered anger and sadness, I was not able to spit out what I really needed, so my husband took over. Two travel vouchers later, bag fee returned, and food vouchers for the airport.....I let go of my idea of leaving that day and hopped back into the car with my family. Sort of anticlimactic.

Instead of my family saying goodbye to me at the airport, I said goodbye to them, in our driveway. They had plans and were off to Chicago. So with 24 hours of free time, I repacked my bags again and whiled away the hours reading a book and chatting with friends.

 After an eventful day of flying and driving at 10,000 feet on curvy roads, at midnight in the Andes, I landed here, in chocolate land. And for the past three days I have been giving chocolate tours, soaking in as much as I can, eating and tasting tons of chocolate and having a major eureka moment. Fresh chocolate straight from the source is like nothing other. Holy goodness.... how about eating chocolate right out of the grinder, warm and delicious. It is hard to even call the chocolate we have grown accustomed to eating 'chocolate'. Today I made brownies, and hung out in the fermentation tent. (that really smells good) I have learned about roasting coffee, cuppings and nib tasting. My dream has become my reality.

Enjoy the pics. By the way, my i-pod was never really charged. I put my ear buds on in the plane as a soothing distraction from the turbulence. I pressed play, again and again.... unfortunately, no music ever  came out.  I left my flashlight at home, packed some really unnecessary items (like my 2 bags of tamari almonds and sun screen for the cloud forest. Live and learn. 

Hugs from the Ecuador.....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Leaving, on a jet plane.....

The time has finally arrived. I am so nervous I can barely pack my suit case. How many pants? How many tanks? Do I bring sandals? What about the bugs? Swimsuit? Vitamins? What about the snakes? Ah yes, my slippers, mustn't forget those. Do I bring my chocolate cookbooks?  Fleece robe? Binoculars, check. Spiders? They won't bother me I have decided.

So nervous, I haven't been away from my entire family for such an extended period of time. For me this trip has already been teaching me so much about myself and my family.  Ahhh.... What a gift this is to travel to Ecuador and be immersed in the love of chocolate for an entire month! I have been waiting to do this for 16 years. Sixteen years ago, my dream wasn't to make chocolate, but it was to continue living and studying in Spanish speaking countries. Now I have added chocolate to that dream ~

I grabbed onto this dream hard. It was a hot air ballon of bliss floating by one day and I grabbed on, not knowing where it would take me. I just knew that I had to do it. And look where I am now. Heading down to Mindo Ecuador to eat, live, work and dream chocolate in a cloud forest on the Western slope of the Andes.

I know I have not posted often as of late. This trip should open up some much needed time and blogging. Not so much recipes, but I do want to give my readers an opportunity to peek into my world and catch a glimpse of the why behind my chocolate obsession. 

Wheels up on Tuesday - Find me on Instagram for up to date pics and then look forward to several posts chock full of CHOCOLATE and maybe the occasional spider of snake.

Thank you to my husband who will be flying solo himself while cooking hot dogs and brats for the kids. Thank you to my friends who have supported me and purchased my chocolates. Thank you to my whole family for tasting all my chocolates and loving me!

xoxoxo megan