Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival 2016
My second trip to Puerto Viejo was exciting and casual because I was returning to a place I now knew. I knew exactly where to go for my vegan ice cream, knew where to lay my beach towel and tan, and knew where to go for an ATM in case of emergency. Lucky for my friends and I, we just happen to be in town on the weekend of the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival of 2016.
Stop right there. Anyone who knows me knows I love good chocolate. No not milk chocolate, but real, rich, dark chocolate… and Costa Rica is as famous for its chocolate as it is for its coffee and bananas. The chocolate festival was held in an open, outdoor restaurant where vendors set up their tables and displayed their chocolate and other organic products like coffee and soaps (yes, soap made from cocoa). There were tons of chocolate samples, I didn’t really need to buy any because I consumed so much for free, but ended up buying a dark chocolate almond bar.
Each seller explained their cause, where their cocoa was grown and harvested, and how it came to be the product it was packages and presented as. There was cinnamon chocolate, chili pepper chocolate, chocolate with mint, chocolate with nuts, chocolate covered pineapple, it didn’t end. One table was even selling these adorable brown t-shirts that read “Some like it dark” (haha) with an orange owl on the front. I was so tempted to buy it, but I refrained. Little things like this make me very happy if you can’t tell!
Its venomous red and white zebra stripes aren’t the only danger this fish emits. Migrated from Indo-Pacific, the carnivorous lionfish as a species has traveled its way to many different areas of the ocean and is currently a progressing problem in Costa Rica. The Lionfish is an invasive fish, meaning it eats just about anything, which in turn totally disproportions the food chain and population of species.
Costa Rica, usually the first to create laws to preserve and save animal life for biodiversity, is currently promoting the capture and consumption of lionfish due to the 80% decline of fish near their coasts. Shrimp, snapper, and lobster populations decreased upon the arrival of lionfish in the South Caribbean.
After hearing this and learning about the massive impact it has had on Costa Rica’s marine life, my whole took a bus to a family’s house near Puerto Viejo, and sat down for a lionfish dinner. Whole, cooked lionfish. I of course ate something else, although it would have actually been beneficial to eat it in this specific environment. Once the lionfish is taken out of the water and dies, the venom in it’s pointy needle-like structures fades, and is okay to eat. It was interesting to learn about how Costa Rica sustains their environment, specifically in the case of the lionfish.
“Let food thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”