If anyone is interested in visiting the Dominican Republic between May 2nd and the 12 or so, I would be happy to show you, who and what I know about cacao and chocolate in the country. Every trip I learn more and meet new people. Eventually I would like to organize small groups to take a chocolate trip to the DR and this could be sort of a test run. I would not charge anything except some help with gas in the rent a car.
My main contacts there are centered around CONACADO and some of the bloques. I also have some access to people at Munne, Rizek, Roig and Cortes Hermanos. The Sendero de Cacao run by the Rizek's is a must visit. There are also a number of rural based rural women associations who make drinking chocolate and some are getting financing and machines to to some decent processing and other products. These groups are a lot of fun to visit and always right in the middle of different cacao growing regions. I also work closely with the person who manufactures the machines locally. He has recently installed four new, small processing plants and he can't wait to show me.
I always stop by and visit my friends at the Red de Guaconejo, a small well run farmer cooperative. There are many other farmer type associations and cooperatives I have read about and will eventually make contact. It is always a delight to meet Orlando Rodriquez and tour the Insitutito at Mata Larga. I can not say enough about the respect I have for his contribution to improving cacao production in the DR at the small farm level. I spend as much time as I can there during my visits.
Diana Munne runs the best and only chocolate shop in the Capital. I can only really buy decent eating chocolate from Diana and at the Sendero while I am in the country. I have tasted really good liquor at CONACADO.
These are the things I do when I am in the Dominican Republic and would love to share this with others. I used to get around on a motorcycle but have moved up to renting a car. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the country 27 years ago and am married into a cacao growing family 24 years ago. I speak very good Dominican Spanish and know how to safely move around the country. Let me know.
updated by @thomas-forbes: 04/18/15 07:10:39AM