Monday, June 27, 2022

Manfred the Chocolate Guy

 Combine a hike, a waterfall, and some delicious freshly made chocolate and you have the makings of a very good day. Setting off from the town of Hakahetau in the NE corner of Uo Pou we began our search for Manfred, the famous Chocolate Guy. The road lead us up to a small dirt road and we took off into the Marquesian woods. It had recently rained so we spent a good deal of time avoiding puddles and trying not to slip in the mud. We passed several people on the road and were usually greeted with the Marquesian "Kaoha" meaning "Hello", or occasionally the French "Bon jour", and always with a smile. 

We were traveling up a valley,  occasionally we could see through the trees to a ravine on the side of us. The vegetation was lush and green, the trees varied in size from the very small to the very large. Along the road there were some botanical signs placed telling us about the trees. Sometimes we could figure out which trees they were referring to, but more often than not, we were left guessing as to which tree we were trying to identify. The names of the trees were listed in Marquesian, French, English and Latin, however the explanation was only in Marquesian and French, neither of which I can read.

After about 2/3 of a mile (or 1 kilometer we) we reached a sign:

The sign was a little deceiving, it should have pointed almost straight up as that is how it felt making our way up to Manfred's place. Along the steep, muddy track on our way up, a pickup truck was coming down. It stopped, and the driver introduced himself. It was Manfred, the man we were headed out to see. He was headed to the next town over to get some cooking gas, but he said we should continue on our path as his wife was there, and she could sell us some chocolate. He told us that when we got to his gate that we should hit the bell and the dogs would come running, but they would not bite.

Sure enough, we got to the gate, hit the bell, which turned out to be an old wok, with a large wooden dowel, and immediately the dogs began to bark and race down the hill towards us, tails wagging. Manfred's wife called for us to come on up, and sadly I do not remember her name. 

We continued up the hill, accompanied by the dogs, past the chickens and roosters, the goats and rabbits, and the duck family with two little ducklings. We passed an area full of discarded cacao husks and into a garden area complete with drip irrigation.

Manfred's wife spoke almost no English, so we communicated with a combination of a few English words, a few French words, and lots of sign language. She offered us some samples, a very good marketing ploy because the chocolate was absolutely delicious! So many flavors, and each one bursting with rich chocolateness.

She brought out a list of the approximately 12 different flavors she had and we chose from it, wanting to try them all, but ultimately picking from our favorites. All the while she kept replenishing the sample box and encouraged us to try more 

Chocolate bars safely tucked away in our backpack, protected from the sun, we headed back down the mountain, back to the blue sign, and took the small path leading to the waterfall.

Winding through the forest with occasional cryptic tree identification plaques, crossing the stream several times, we arrive at the welcome sight of the waterfall.

So refreshing after the hike up to chocolate and back down again.

So refreshing and cool, until the mosquitos discovered us. We could dip ourselves in the water and they would temporarily leave us alone, soon to return. It was such a dilemma, stay and enjoy the cool water and get swarmed by mosquitoes, or run away from the pests and the water. At some point we decided we had had enough and exited the water. Once we were dried off, and away from the waterfall we had no more issues with mosquitos.

Such a pleasant day. Our friend Liane on the sailboat Waveriders even gained a friend, even though it was probably a bit large for their catamaran!


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