Cocoa Treats from Raw Cocoa Beans

We were finally in the air-conditioned kitchen with our instructor explaining what we had to do.  The first thing we did was roast the cocoa beans and while they were roasting we had to stir continually so they didn’t burn.

This is the young boy from the family who was participating in the cooking lesson. He is stirring the roasting cocoa beans.

Shawn and I took turns stirring our beans.  It took quite a while but they were finally ready.  The next step was to crush the beans to make a powder.  It was hard work.  I did it for a while but then Shawn finished it up.

Shawn crushing the beans to make a powder.

The instructor made a hot chocolate drink and then a hot tea drink. They both tasted very chocolaty.  Shawn said he liked the tea the best.

Here is the instructor making the hot chocolate.
In this picture, the instructor is making the tea, but he had to strain it afterward to get out the bitter pieces of cocoa bean fragments.

After the cooking and tasting, the instructor then made the chocolate that we would use to make the filled chocolate candies that we would be able to take home.  They had to set for 24 hours.

Each of us had this cup of dark chocolate that we used to fill the mold.

While the instructor set up everything, we sat in the hot waiting area.  We saw our guide busy on his cell phone, but we didn’t say anything to him.  I was surprised he was there waiting for us. In a few minutes, the instructor was ready for us to return to the kitchen area. He had all the places set up with the chocolate, pans, a variety of fruit, candies, and spices to add to our chocolates. You had to fill each mold with half chocolate and then add whatever you wanted for the filling and then put the rest of the chocolate on top of the mold.

This was my setting. There were many jars filled with goodies to put in the chocolate. Some of the ingredients you could include were nuts, candies, chili peppers, sprinkles, and dried fruit.
This was mine when I finished up. It was a bit messy but I think we all had a good time making our chocolates!

We finished making our chocolates but we would have to return the next morning to get them. I took a taxi by myself the next morning to pick up our chocolates.  It was late afternoon when we left the Choco  Museum. The guide got a taxi and we returned to our hotel. He told us that a driver would pick us up around 1 pm the next day to take us to the airport. That was the last we saw of our guide as we decided to go by ourselves to eat dinner.  We rested in our room until dinner as it was sooooo hot outside.

Interno – Dinner in a Women’s Prison

At about 7 pm, we asked the desk clerk to get us a taxi to take us to a place called Interno. The dining area is located inside a minimum-security women’s prison. It was opened in 2016 and has helped dozens of inmates learn skills designed to aid reintegration into society.  It seats about 60 people and is a cordoned-off area of Cartagena’s San Diego Prison. The neighborhood is called San Diego.

Unfortunately, our taxi driver had never heard of it and didn’t have a clue where it was even after I showed him the address.  He started just driving us around so I told him to let us out when we came to some stores.  I went inside one of the stores and asked if they knew about it.  A friend of the proprietor said he knew exactly where it was located.  I thought he was a taxi driver but found out later that he was just wanting to earn some extra money.  Lucky for us, he knew right where to go and he dropped us off in front of the entrance.

We had to knock on the door and a face appeared asking if we had reservations. We walked in and the whole place was filled with customers waiting for their food.  It looked like some huge civic group was eating there.  We had a small table against the wall. The servers were very nice and made sure we got waited on even though they had so many people to wait on in that large group. It was an interesting experience.  There was a set menu with a set price. It was a bit on the expensive side but then the proceeds go toward the workers and improving conditions in the prison.  I guess we didn’t expect every seat to be filled so it was a bit uncomfortable and noisy, but the food was good.  We had fish and vegetables for the main course and shrimp for the appetizer.  I enjoyed the dessert which was some kind of coconut dish with three different kinds of fruit coatings. I started eating it and then remembered to take a photo.

Fish dinner with vegetables.
Unusual dessert but very tasty.

We finished our meal and as we went out many more people were coming to the door.  We were fortunate as we got a taxi right away back to our hotel.  We spent the rest of the evening packing up and trying to make room for all the Colombian treasures we had bought.

The next morning after breakfast, we strolled along the streets near the hotel looking for last-minute souvenirs and taking the opportunity for some last-minute photos.  I especially enjoyed the variety of door knockers.  Here are some photos in slides:


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Brightly colored homes
Lovely homes decorated with plants and flowers.

At the Airport

It was finally time to leave and our driver was right on time.  It was about 45 minutes to the airport.  There were long lines and we couldn’t check our bags until later.  We decided to find a place to sit and wait. When it was time, we checked our bags and got through the line quickly.  It was a very long walk to the gate and we were one of the first to arrive. As it got closer to boarding time, we wondered what happened to the airline personnel as they never showed up.  Then all of a sudden, there was an announcement and the words “flight canceled”.  We waited for a while to see if any airline personnel were going to talk to us but no one came.  Other passengers showed up and people started saying that you had to call the airline yourself to try to rebook your ongoing flight. Evidently, there were storms in Dallas, and that was the reason the flight was canceled. I did call the airlines but the best I could get was the next day flight to Lima, Peru – Miami – Phoenix and then San Diego.  Otherwise, we would have to stay until Monday and this was a Thursday. After a while, someone came and told us to go through security and get our bags and there would be someone to talk to us. We managed to go through security and get our bags and then an airline representative talked to each person. We were given a voucher to stay overnight at a nearby hotel and a food voucher which we could use at the airport the next day. It was dark by that time, but we found the driver of the hotel van and went to the hotel. In the morning, I called the airlines again and was able to get a better flight – Miami, Phoenix, and San Diego. I was even able to hire a driver to pick us up in San Diego as our regular driver was unavailable. We had a great lunch with our voucher at the airport restaurant. We left around 9 pm that night and were happy to be on a plane going back to the USA and eventually to San Diego!

Thoughts about our Trip to Colombia: 

On the positive side – We enjoyed visiting the three main cities – Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena and getting an understanding of the culture and how it differed in each city. The people, for the most part, were friendly and welcoming.  I was pleased with most of the photos I was able to take.


The best food we ate was at the Prudencia Restaurant in Bogota. We loved the Candelaria area in Bogota and wished we had spent more time there. The best Colombian coffee I had was at the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango cafe. Seeing the amazing graffiti in the area outside the city was extraordinary but it did take up a lot of our time. The Gold Museum was spectacular and well worth the visit. The ride up to Monserrate and walking around, seeing the church and taking photos of the city from the top was great. We liked the Artesanias de Colombia shop for its variety of well-made souvenirs.


Medellin had the best hotel – Park 10.  We had a huge room with king-size beds. and a sitting area. The staff was nice and very friendly.  I enjoyed the Loma Linda Flower Farm and the owners were very welcoming. Shawn and I both enjoyed the lunch we shared with the family. The visit with the lady who told us about the yearly flower festival was very interesting. I liked taking photos of all the flowers growing around her house and in her garden. It was fascinating to see how she made the flower arrangement that was carried on people’s backs. Our trip to the Minorista Market was fun.  The Museo de Antioquia was especially intriguing with its collection of Botero’s sculptures and paintings. I really liked the city views from the top of one of the tallest buildings in the town’s main plaza. The trip to the coffee farm was impressive and the scenery was often breath-taking.  We loved the plantation house with its wonderful views and open-air ambiance.

The cable car ride was fabulous with its absorbing views of the favelas down below. Meeting some of the artists who were trying to make a difference in their neighborhoods gave us a better understanding of the people who lived in the favelas.


Cartagena was so totally different from the other places we visited in Colombia.  The best part of our stay was walking along its colorful streets and seeing the marvelous examples of colonial architecture.  The brightly costumed indigenous people added to the splendor of the city.  The Choco Museum was probably the most interesting experience we had in Cartagena. Our time here was so short that we did not actually see all that we wanted to and the extreme heat made it difficult to really get to know the city and all that it offered.

Thanks so much for your interest and especially to all those who offered comments.





2 thoughts

  1. Oh geez, a canceled flight, that must have been unpleasant. Glad to hear that the airline was forthcoming enough with the vouchers. I enjoyed reading about the chocolate making (we actually did something similar here in San Diego, but I guess it lacks the authenticity of what you experienced) and fresh roasting and grinding of cocoa.

    Oh and, that little series with the door knockers was very enjoyable. 🙂 Thanks for sharing all your photos and impressions.


  2. I am glad to hear that you and Shawn had a great time although the return trip was a bummer. I look forward to your next adventure!


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