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Saturday, January 7, 2017
Where is all the chocolate and cacao in Cuba?
When we arrived at the resort, I learned there was, in fact, an overnight trip to Baracoa, the region where cacao grows. But by then we had our plans made and I didn't want to make changes. I figured, surely if cacao grows in Cuba, there will be some chocolate or cocoa beans available at the tourist shops, especially since Holguin was close to Baracoa (comparative to the other destinations most people visit in Cuba). But I was very, very wrong.
So back to Cuban cacao.... According to cubanagriculture.org, cacao entered Cuba in 1540, but didn't boom until the late 1770's. And by then, it had become the main drink for breakfast and other occasions. Cuban cacao production went up and down over the centuries and years since, but after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, cacao was included with new plants of development to improve the country`s agriculture. The best conditions for growing cacao are in the eastern provinces of Cuba, with Guantanamo and Baracoa bearing the best fruit. There is also a factory that makes chocolate in the same region.
Apparently there was Cuban cocoa liquor (solid, unsweetened chocolate) in the airport Duty Free store after check-in. Unfortunately for me, I was stuck in a line-up for three hours to simply check-in, then immediately had to board the plane and had no time to visit the store. Boy was I disappointed when I learned from the woman sitting near me that she had found some there. I almost offered her $100 Canadian for it, but thought the better of it. I'd best spend that money on Chocolat Chapon's, Willie's, or Pralus's Cuban-origin chocolate bars.
So based on my mistakes on seeking out Cuban cacao during my vacation, I can give you a little advice if you are also heading to Cuba, and on the path to find Cuban cacao or chocolate in Cuba.
Number One: Plan to visit Baracoa (and ask your travel agent directly, even if they send you a list of excursions off your resort that has no cacao included).
Number Two: Visit your Duty Free store after check in at the airport. There was some at the Holguin airport, and likely at other airports in Cuba as well, so just be sure to give yourself time to check.
Number Three: Get to the airport early. Like 6 hours early. Don`t take the Sunwing Vacation bus, or you may not arrive on time for your Sunwing flight. Seriously.
If you have been to Cuba and explored Cuban cacao and chocolate, please share your experiences in the Comments section below. I'd love to learn more about other vacationers' experiences with finding chocolate and cacao in Cuba.
If you are traveling to Cuba some time soon, for cacao or just some fun in the sun, enjoy your trip!