By: Bella Papadopoulou.
It was New Yorker Alan Slesinger that brought new life to what was an old colonial building from the 30s. Today Vila Rosa is standing proud on a 100-hectare piece of land that is part cocoa farm and part paradise.
One morning, we met in front of Alan´s café Casarão Azul and before boarding his Land Rover that carried us to Taboquinhas where the Vila is located, Alan says, ”this experience will be totally different from what we are expecting”.
Driving there was half the fun. We drove through the untouched Atlantic forests, farms of palm trees, and açaí fruit growing wild. From high above we can see the river, Rio de Contas, that starts off in Chapada Diamantina and ends up in Itacaré, making a stop in Vila Rosa first.
”I think that what will make your trip special is the beauty of the place… and, of course, some chocolate on top of that” Alan says while we drive the 30 km away from Itacaré where only 10 are asphalted; so buckle up.
Where does chocolate come from? We all eat it, crave it – some even claim not to be able to live without it; yet, very few know from where it actually originates. And it is sure to say that a tour around the cocoa farm at Vila Rosa will clear out all question marks.
We finally arrived at Vila Rosa and were welcomed by Alan´s dog, Museum, who happily greeted us all. Around us there are only flowers and trees of all variations and with only one breath you feel like you are in a totally different world. Looking around the green scenery (and the very organised cobble stoned paths) Vila Rosa stands out among the flowers, making a fine first impression.
We started the tour around the farm that is home for over 40 different types of fruits and berries while Alan explained the entire process of making chocolate from scratch. The farmers are very careful not to harm the environment and this is why they grow the plants organically. The plant’s seeds (or beans) are used to make chocolate, the juice is pressed and made into beverage and the remains of the cocoa fruit is used for composting so as not to waste anything.
Maria Leticia Ribas was one of the visitors in our group and she was absolutely amazed by the tour. ”It was a surprise to see that chocolate starts off as a seed. I was also surprised by its taste as I thought it would be sweet but it was, in fact, very sour” she says.
After the tour, we visited the mansion at Vila Rosa that has been restored into a museum. There we saw how the family that used to reside there lived in the 30s. It also gave us insight into the life of a cocoa farmer in this region.
Our day at the farm came to an end with a delicious New York-style pizza slice and some freshly made cocoa juice directly from the farm. Then we drove back to the modern world, where chocolate does not come from a tree but from the nearest supermarket.
If one day is not enough, one can also have a colonial dinner or stay the night at Vila Rosa. Check out Vila Rosa’s official website for more information.