Imagine this. Michael our driver, Kathe and I, crammed in the front of a little white ute. Its dusty, ridiculously humid, the aircon doesn’t work and we have been driving on a very bumpy and at times dangerous road for more than 4 hours. The back is filled with cocoa farmers, who are chewing their Betel nut and smoking cigarettes. Yes, its as hot and uncomfortable as it sounds.
We are on our way to Waimarae to do more organic certification sessions. The long drive has enabled us to see the wild beauty of Makira, passing through tropical jungles, lined with small seaside villages and unfortunate glimpse of empty space due to the continuation of logging.
We finally arrive at the Waimarae cocoa ecolodge after 5 hours of driving. Its surrounded by blooming bright flowers, edible gardens (taro, sweet potato, greens, banana etc) and has the most beautiful view of the ocean. We have truly arrived in paradise, but for the locals, this is just normal, everyday living.
We settle into our new accommodation. No electricity. No mirrors. No bathroom. No kitchen. Just a bare open house, draping with sarongs to separate our rooms, an outdoor sink and cooking area (most cooking is done downstairs on the fire) and a nice outdoor shower and eco-friendly toilet that you flush with a bucket of water.
We have some fresh coconut water and banana and get our documents in order for tomorrows training. Farmer contracts, registration forms, checklists. Then before the sun sets, we take some time exploring the area and going down to the black stony shores for a wonderfully refreshing swim.
I cannot wait to see the wild cocoa farms here. I'm drained from the heat so I head to bed early. It's going to be a big day tomorrow, seeing fermentation facilitates, completing the farmer training and going to Simon’s off-track jungle farm for a practice audit!