It was both a pleasure and a privilege to meet with Emily Stone, a pioneer in the cocoa industry and founder of American-based cocoa bean brokers Uncommon Cacao. During our travels through Guatemala, we were lucky enough to join Emily and her team at Cacao Verapaz – one of the majority-farmer-owned subsidiaries of Uncommon Cacao – for two days during their aptly named ‘Guatemala Chocolate Week’. We were also lucky enough to find (possibly) the world’s largest cacao pod!!
Flores is in an interesting pocket of Guatemala, part of the Mayan heartland of Central America. A little island in the middle of Lake Peten Itza and once cut off from the mainland, it is now only accessible by tuk tuk across a narrow bridge. It is believed Isla de Flores (Flores Island) itself withstood the invasion of Spain’s forces for some time and was the last Mayan stronghold to fall, in around 1697. We based ourselves here so we could predominantly explore the wonders of Tikal ruins, about an hour north in the Guatemalan jungle.