I took the above photo of the inside of a cacao pod on a hillside in Bocas del Toro, Panama. In order to bring to you such unique and informative photos, I often take undue risks, but someone has to do this for your benefit. Mouth of the Bull…picture, if you will, about 10 people being soundly bobbed about in an open air boat in the surf line along a reef between the mainland of Panama and the island of Bocas del Toro. The waves making such deep troughs that the boat disappeared then reappeared as we struggled to make progress. Intense blue noon sky. Clear aqua and celadon sea. The boat sporting another aqua of peeling thirty year old paint. Water crashing into the boat through the openings on the left and right of the windshield. All the while, I kept my gaze upon the driver’s face. If he started to look worried, then I was going to start gnawing on the ancient ropes lashing down the faded orange life vests. Well, of course, we made it and thus the photo, and my even sweeter memories of landing on terra firma.
If you ever find yourself hiking in the hot tropical hills, you might find refreshment in cracking open one of these pods used by ancient civilizations. In the photo above are my young guides hands and the gift he offered. He is all of about 15 years old, and he shimmied up the cacao tree with a lithe grace, then threw down several pods, cracked them open on a boulder, and offered up the sweet, moist inner seeds. Was so enlightening and refreshing. A hot day in a foreign place with welcoming smiles and a new taste of an ancient treat.