Saturday, May 16, 2009

Though chocolate is used to keep women happy in the states, Bri Bri use Cacao (or Cocoa) in a different kind of healing process: spiritual and purification ceremonies. They never mix it with sugar. Instead, a Shaman mixes it with with other natural ingredients and boiling water and pours it over a woman's big toe to rid her of her impurities after a pregnancy or menstrual cycle. A Bri Bri woman gives birth alone on a mountain inside a small hut she puts together with leaves because no one can be around her during the "impure" process and some time after. Here, Dorcus' younger sister is giving us a demonstration of the tradition which has been past on through generations for over 300 years.

The Cacao Plants, native to the tropical region of the Americas, require a humid climate with regular rainfall. Partu Nona, Dorcus' mother, showed us a tree bearing cacao pods in all 4 stages - she cracked open a ripened fruit and let us abstract the seeds, which were smothered in a delicious, white, milky pulp. We sucked the sweet nature right off those seeds & it was like nothing we've ever tasted. The only thing better than chocolate is chocolate in its rawest form.

Cacao flowers are pollinated by tiny flies, not bees, and grow right off the trunk and branches.

Another plant the women showed us had pods which contained small red balls. Bri Bri women dip their fingers in these and use it as lipstick, one of many uses the seeds provide. They can also be mixed with garlic and other ingredients to create a potent cooking spice. Angela and I bought a container each for our boyfriends to cook us delicious meals at home- we are both very fortunate to have partners who rock in the kitchen!
To please tourists such as ourselves, the women sell several flavors of organic chocolate at the end of the tour - with sugar and absolutely yummy. Our big toes were very happy none of us have recently given birth. The ladies were so nice, they even brought us out 2 free bags of cocoa butter and told us all the uses for our skin, including facials and massages. Looks like our boyfriends really have their work cut out for them! As they say in Bri Bri, "aki aki" (bye bye).


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