Nov 152014

Fri. 11/14/14. Choco Museo in Cusco (Chocolate Museum)

Well that was a bit rugged trying to sleep last night on a huge double decker bus over Peru’s rough asphalt highways, through cities with lots of turns and dirt roads, thru several major construction zones with bumps and potholes, stops and starts, and the many, many alertness bumps In the highways in series of three for this triple-axel bus.  Really loud little wake-up calls at about 15 minute intervals throughout the country everywhere that there are no giant speed bumps as you go through the towns.  So really didn’t get much good quality sleep on the way back here from Puno to Cusco.  And I waited for Freddy, the driver, for 25 minutes to pick me up from the bus station, but finally had to take a taxi back to Pilar’s.  Fortunately it is light enough, and I pretty much know my way around the central downtown and my neighborhood, to direct the taxi driver.

So, bummer, no WiFi on the bus.  Got way spoiled Wednesday!  I read and tried to nap a bit, and not let my mind run away with me throughout the trip back.  Now I am back in iffy Internet-ville, so may or may not get emails again until I get to Lima airport tomorrow night.
Gonna take it easy today.  I took some pastries to the Maximo Nivel staff, and visited them for the last time.  I don’t have anywhere that I have to be today.  Might try to find the chocolate museum that I have been hearing about.  Gonna go to the market one more time and get Pilar and volunteers some fruit.  And maybe cookies.  And then just have a quiet afternoon here, I think, or maybe a bit of souvenir shopping.  Haven’t done much of that yet.
So I did go to the big Orion Supermercado, and got Pilar’s Mani Americano (peanut butter), and  then across the street to the real Mercado San Pedro for fruta.  I guess that the time I came and there was so much bread, and so many bread venders, it was because of the PanWawa celebration that was pending that Saturday, cuz I have not seen that many pan vendedoras from Oropesa since then, and I haven’t seen those cookies ever again, that I got and loved sometime in my first week here.  So anyways, as I came out of the mercado with both arms full of bags of fruit, cookies, bread, etc, the same taxi driver that took me up the hill last Tuesday from the market was there, and he saw me and honked.  We had talked about where I am from and Los Angeles, and my Machu Picchu trek trip, and he was interested in So Cal stuff, so he helped me practice my spanish a bunch in that 8 minute drive.  Well today he took me up the hill again, and as we talked some more, I told him that I am leaving tomorrow, and will be flying out of Cusco airport in the evening.  He offered to come get me tomorrow evening at 5:00, and he wrote it down, but I didn’t get a name or number, so really don’t know if that will happen.
I grabbed a bit of lunch (giant oatmeal cookie with Nutella and peanut butter!  :-)))))).  That was after my super nutritious breakfast of “Choco Crunch”, yummy chocolate cereal, with chocolate milk of course, and fruit to balance things out a bit, early this morning before everybody else was up.  And then I headed back out to check out some of the souvenir stores and to find the Choco Museo.  For the first time, I actually went into the more expensive alpaca shops that have the higher end, for-sure baby alpaca sweaters, not the “maybe alpaca” that I had been educated to avoid.  And I did find myself a really pretty blue sweater with Inca designs on it, and hand made buttons.  There was a pretty little busty mannequin, in one of the tiendas, with a beautiful deep red floral embroidered sweater, like Peru size zero (that’s even smaller than US size zero)  And I was actually able to make a joke in spanish with the salesgirl, that if the sweater would make me look that good (and busty) I would buy it in a heartbeat.  She laughed with good eye contact so that I am pretty sure that it wasn’t at my poor broken Castillano that she was laughing.  Although I guess it could just have been that this giant gringa was even considering the petite little sweater.  Oh well, I like the thought that I was able to make a joke better, since I don’t even do it that well in English.
And I found the famed Choco Museo (chocolate museum).  Or at least I smelled it before I actually found it.  Tucked into an old Spanish Colonial mansion in the middle of Cusco, the shop front is small and unassuming, kinda blends right in with all of the other little tiendas on that street.  It takes up about one third of the old adobe structure upstairs, and just a small portion for the shop downstairs.  The young man who lead our quite informal tour, made up of the handful of people who happened to arrive at about 1:30 to the tienda and were told about the tour, was very informative and enjoyed the enthusiasm of our group for one of the best flavors known to womankind!  He had the visuals to provide a great little presentation, including the whole cacao bean pod, the dried hardened inner cone of seeds or beans, and individual beans, which he cracked open for us to taste the nibs.  Yuck!  He gave us a quick synopsis of the labor-intensive processes that the cacao bean goes through to get to be the tasty end-product that I sooooo enjoy.  Then there was video footage and an illustrated timeline to demonstrate the extensive time that it takes to create one batch of edible chocolate from all of those beans!  And we were given samples of the different kinds of chocolate, and of the chocolate tea, that actually was quite good and tasted of chocolate with a really lovely aroma of warm chocolate.
And of course, there is a gift shop, where you can purchase all kinds of chocolate products and/or cocoa butter products that really smell like chocolate, including:  chocolate bars and cookies, chocolate soaps and shampoos, lip balm, chocolate salsas mixed with a variety of different fruits, spices, and coca tea, chocolate liquors, t-shirts, cook books, aprons, etc.  What a wonderful fun little place!  It’s really not the place where the chocolate was actually refined and edible things were created, but just the place to demonstrate the (outsourced labor-intensive) processes that are involved, and most of which occur in third-world countries near the equator in a warm climate for drying and fermenting the beans.  I have new respect for my plain old peanut M&Ms, and the dark chocolate mint ones too that came with me on my trip and are long gone (thank you Arezoo!  ;-).  Fun little program!
I came back to Pilar’s and worked on spanish drills and new words, and then started reading, and it began to rain lightly outside.  The dogs kept barking on and off very loudly every time they heard someone outside of the gate.  And then all of a sudden, it was dark and the house was quiet, and I realized that I had missed 7:00 dinner (as it was nearly 8:00). My plate of food was under a little screened dome with my name on it, and since it was the (unusual in Cusco) treat of mostly vegetables, I heated it up and ate immediately.  And then put my jammies on and went to bed, sleeping for another full 8 hours before I woke up to more dog barks at 5 this morning.  My last day here.  Guess I was a bit tired after that long bus ride night.

  2 Responses to “Fri. 11/14/14. Cusco’s Choco Museo”

  1. Loved your descriptions of Macho P….. hiking. So glad to hear about your trip and it’s fun to keep up with your adventures and your wonderful perspectives. Sending lots of love.

  2. I have soooo enjoyed ‘traveling with you’!!!! Not sure what is more amazing – this trip – or your wonderful narration!!! Thanks for sharing so much – continued safe travels my friend :)


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