Our neighbour, a childhood friend of Bertie's, has been babysitting her two nieces recently and after an enjoyable trip to Ste Anne with them, the girls clamoured to see them again so we arranged to go over to Basse-Terre.
First stop was La Maison de Cacao. We visited the garden which has various cacao trees - there are three types, used to make luxury, superior and normal chocolate. The girls were most interested in pushing JoJo's buggy! Fine with me!
There is no longer a cacao industry in Guadeloupe, though there used to be a thriving one at the beginning of last century. This seems to be to do with a mixture of destructive hurricanes, a better income from bananas, and all the regulations and fees from being part of France.
After the garden, we were given a very interesting talk about cacao and how it is produced and then made into chocolate. I can't remember the whole process, but the beans are taken out of the shell and you can eat the soft bit surrounding them (delicious!) then they are roasted I think, before being ground down like coffee beans. She explained the whole process and differences between cocoa butter and paste but I will have to look it up again.
Then we did the tasting part, which was great fun, and I can assure you that JoJo really got involved here! He tasted every bit of chocolate that came his way (and we are talking 90% cocoa, the hard stuff here!) and begged for more!
First we tried hot chocolate how it should be - mixed with water and very strong. Next was 90% chocolate on its own, then mixed with sugar cane and you could just smell those sugar cane fields! Then mixed in turn with coffee bean, rum, and pepper. Ouch! I think I am just a plain kind of girl! We went out with our heads pounding!
Off we went to picnic and swim at Bouillante, a black sand beach. Black sand is so strange, it just looks like you are really dirty! The waves were pretty strong there so the kids decided making castles in the dirt, sorry I mean sand, was a better option.
CassCass managed to cut her foot open on something, but a kind lady at one of the many diving places there provided 1st aid. I have started taking a first aid kit with me now, though like an umbrella, I will probably never need it except the day I forget it! It is all healed now and she runs again with her usual grace and gusto.