The Power of Chocolate: Some Tasting Notes from Peru

By Jules Torti | October 31, 2022

This afternoon, while pushing aside the furry head that comes with jet lag (insert 22.5 hours of flying from Bali to Singapore to Amsterdam to Toronto here!), I started scrolling through Wild Women’s Facebook community page to see what everyone was chatting about. I shivered looking at the snapping prayer flags of the Nepal trek, our brave and resilient Wild Women snuggled in with cups of strong tea and Nescafe. 

Then I pulled up a virtual seat to a savoury lunch at a family-run lunch spot in Tamboaylla, Peru with our favourite cowgirl,  Kyd Campbell. 

When I saw Beth Kolczynski Graber’s post (thanks for sharing this truly serendipitous photo on our Facebook community page, Beth!), I smiled. She had just booked WWE’s Scottish Highlands Hiking Adventure and hesitated (buyer’s remorse, I know it all too well), wondering if she had made the right choice. Her confirmation came via this telling chocolate wrapper. Beth said, “I think that means I made the right choice!” Ironically, Roberta Domeck received the same reassuring message and replied to Beth, “I’m right there with you!”

I poked around a little and learned that in 2017, Dove had a #DOVEPROMISES campaign encouraging chocolate lovers to submit motivational quotes, mantras and promises for consideration to be printed inside their foil wrappers. Kinda like the golden tickets in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, but better! Especially when the not-so-subliminal message tells you to book a flight!

The cascading conversation that followed from this innocent Facebook post about a chocolate wrapper was as sweet as the contents. Lisa asked what Highlands trip Beth was on and they realized that they would be in the same group in May 2023. Bettina chirped that she had just returned from the Scottish Highlands trip the night before and confirmed that Beth had made the right decision. “Could not have loved it more!” Renee Paul offered her own sage words, “never underestimate the power of chocolate.” Tammy perceived it to be a good sign as well, with a little envy. “Enjoy the Scottish Highlands–they’re on my list.”

Chocolate. You’ll never know where it might take you. 

If you’ve ever walked to the point of delirium on the Camino de Santiago because the village where you hoped to buy a sweet pick-me-up was in the full swing of a siesta, you’ll know the anticipation of a latte and chocolate-anything after a 15km stretch of challenging terrain. It’s bittersweet.

Maybe you’ve just tugged off your clingy rain gear and soggy wool socks and retreated inside your tent on the Inca Trek, sharing cozy space with a roomie you met just two days ago. One of you pulls out a coveted chocolate bar with a smile–such simple sweetness is undeniably best shared.

If you’ve ever tried to successfully melt chocolate in a saucepan, you will already know that it takes serious patience. A distracted moment can lead to disaster.

Chocolate speaks its own language. Did you know cacao seeds were used as currency long ago? The investment in sharing the last squares of a chocolate bar with a roomie will always be generosity well-spent.

On WWE’s Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu, Treasures of Ancient Peru and Salkantay Lodge to Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu you can indulge in dessert first with a bean-to-bar workshop. Under expert direction you’ll be introduced to the entire scratch Peruvian chocolate-making process from cacao harvest to bean collection to the melting square on your tongue. If you’ve booked the Inca Trail Trek to Machu, you can truly elevate your taste buds at Pacaymayu campsite at 3,600m (11,811ft)!

Wild Women veteran Janet Cochran (hi Janet!! Sidebar: I met Janet on Charms of Croatia in October 2022) shared a few tasting notes (and teaser photos) of her experience in the cucina while on the Treasures of Ancient Peru adventure this month. I sense there were a lot of surreptitiously licked spoons from the footage! Via Facebook Messenger, Janet said, “We learned to roast, grind and then use the chocolate to make sweet and spicy drinks. Plus we made our own tray of chocolate treats with lots of mix-ins (from sea salt to gummy bears) to choose from. Did you know that mosquitos are the main pollinators of the cacao tree?”

Well, the lowly mosquito may have earned some long overdue respect. Next time you swat your bare skin, remember who helped make your afternoon sweet fix possible!

These chocolate-infused workshops are just a small bite of the wide sensory appeal of Wild Women’s Peru-based adventures. If you’re seeking spiritual enlightenment, intense physical challenge and a transformative sunrise over Machu Picchu, we’d like you to join us. 

Patience, anticipation, sharing, savouring. Just like the bean-to-bar workshop, a stranger-to-bestie experience is what a Wild Women adventure simmers down to. You’ll see. Unwrap your dream. And yes, you can have seconds! (*This applies to chocolate and dreams.) Chocolate has secret powers and one should obey the messages.