After our island retreat, we explored a beautiful cacao forest at Martín's family-run cacao farm in Belize. We were greeted with bottles of fresh cacao juice recently made and frozen, which made our entire group light up with excitement. Cacao juice is very sweet and will ferment quickly if not kept frozen, making storage, shipping, and distribution outside of the country a prohibitive challenge.
Once we were hydrated, we hiked a hilly thirty minutes through rainforest into Martín's farm. He and his family walk this trail every day to get to work. There are no roads or other modes of transportation to get out there, so all of the produce and farm tools are moved on foot.
We were greeted by Martín's daughter and daughter-in-law Yolanda & Catarina already waiting for us. They had copal resin from the trees on their land smoking over hot coals, creating a beautiful, cleansing, refreshing incense smoke. They walked around us wafting us with the copal before guiding us the rest of the way to the thatched structure where lunch was served.
Speaking The Same Language
In Punta Gorda, the biggest city in southern Belize, it is common to hear 4-5 different languages being spoken as you walk down the street. Martín and his family speak not only English with a sing-song Caribbean accent but also Creole, Q'eqchi' Maya and a little Spanish.
We sang songs with Catarina's little ones, Jason & Sharmene, and voraciously ate the farm fresh meals that Yolanda & Catarina cooked over wood fires; fresh tortillas included. We enjoyed coconuts, corn, ginger, bananas, jippi jappa and cacao with every meal, and it was some of the best food we had on our trip!
A Travel Health Elixir
Medicinal Mushroom cacao was integral during our travels to help us stay grounded and keep our immune systems strong.
We loved using 4-5 discs, with 4oz of heated water blended with our handheld frother to create space to pause, take some deep breaths and appreciate our journey.
Ceremony In The Jaguar Cave
The highlight of our stay at the farm was sharing our Boundless Belize cacao in ceremony with Martín. In the steep hillside above his farm are three enormous limestone caverns next to each other. We saw large bats swooping, a white barn owl flying out the cave entrance, and fantastic vines reaching down from the skies as we walked through them to the final cave, known as the Jaguar cave. It received its name because, in recent oral history, a Jaguar was injured in the nearby town, and went into that cave to die. Locals would later come to collect its teeth.
These caves are sacred to the local Q'eqchi Maya people, and we were told of one hundred person ceremonies for community rituals like before corn planting each season. In the photo above is the rock altar that Martín created as an offering to the cave spirits to ask for their permission and guidance in starting his cacao farm many years ago. At his invitation, we sprinkled cacao over the altar to offer it to the spirit of the cave, and then we took our first sips. We shared our gratitude for coming together in this sharing of culture and connection over cacao. Martín then translated our prayers into Q'eqchi, so the cave spirit could understand.
We are so grateful for this shared experience to deepen our connection to the farmers and the land where our cacao comes from, and we hope that these stories weave their way into your hearts and communities as you share the story of this cacao with your own loved ones.