Sunday, 30 December 2012


Today we went to the rainforest to learn about chocolate. We had to cross a massive bridge. It was nearly as long as our garden.
First we tried some chocolate beans. After that we ground some beans and ate them. Eventually we made a drink. Next we had melted chocolate on a spoon and I had five spoonfuls. Finally we had milk and dark chocolate. I preferred the dark chocolate because the milk chocolate was crunchy.

The first recorded use of chocolate was in 1100BC.

Chocolate comes from cacao trees that grow naturally in a band 20 degrees north and south of the equator. The trees also need around 2000 mm of rain every year. They live in temperature zones of 21 - 32 degrees.

The Aztecs used cacao beans as their currency. A slave would have been 100 beans.

Cacao was so valued that it was offered to the Gods as a drink and only used by the nobles in society in golden goblets. When the Spanish came to America they were offered this cacao drink as a greeting. The Europeans did not like the bitter taste and offended the Aztecs causing the start of much trouble.

Later on the Spanish adjusted the drink using their own ingredients. They added milk and sugar to make it a sweeter drink.

Chocolate making is a complicated process. First the beans are grown then picked. The pods were not as I expected. They were oval shaped, brown , yellow or red and slightly smaller than a rugby ball. The indigenous people used their heads to open the pods.

Inside the pods were rows of beans coated in a white slimy substance. We tried the slime and it was horrible. Mum and Dad however thought it was sweet and delicious. In the past the saliva was used to start the fermentation process. This took seven days. Next the beans were dried, then cleaned then roasted. After roasting the shells were removed to reveal the cacao nibs. The nibs smelt like a delicious mixture of coffee and chocolate.

Next the nibs were ground using volcanic stones. (Oscar helped with this process using modern technology). Hot water was added to these nibs to create a hot chocolate drink. The Aztecs added various flavours including, chilli pepper, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. I tried all of these and particularly liked the vanilla. ( I saw a vanilla pod growing naturally on a tree in my hotel garden today)

Finally we tried melted chocolate nibs . This was really thick and like melted cooking chocolate. We put this into moulds and then we had recognisable solid chocolate. We made two types, milk and dark. The powdered milk gave the milk chocolate a sand paper texture.

We all felt really energetic and happy after eating the chocolate and the man told us that it was the chemicals that it contains. There was some caffeine and other substances that were affecting our bodies. Some studies have shown that chocolate can help to reduce high blood pressure. These chemicals are also toxic to some animals including dogs.

According to the guide the best chocolate is dark and with a high percentage of cacao. Personally I still prefer Dairy Milk!


Today we went on an exciting tour in the canopy of the rainforest in Costa Rica. We went zip lining with Ecoglide. I was a bit scared when the guide started putting safety harnesses and a helmet on. There were 13 wires, one Tarzan swing and 15 platforms.One of the wires was 400 m long. There were two parts to the course. The experience was brilliant, fantastic,fabulous and one of the best things this week...actually in my life! The wires went zip when we went down them and the vibrations were like a generator.

Top tip...if you ever do this the heavier you are the higher you go on the Tarzan swing.

I felt nervous and scared then proud and happy.

Thank you to Ecoglide for a safe and brilliant experience.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Hobbit - my first film review


Today we went to see a film based on the book 'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read the book a couple of years ago with my Dad, it took sooooo long! It is an action packed fantasy film.

The plot in a nutshell is Bilbo Baggins joining a band of dwarves to win back their homeland. The first part of the movie was funny, light hearted and happy compared to the second part that was serious, dark and scary.

The character Golum was amazing. I enjoyed his riddles and his make up was seamless. His eyes were sad and wet. His voice was like stones rubbing against each other. I didn't know whether to feel scared or sad for him.

The best part was when Bilbo saved Thorin, the dwarf leader. Thorin was battling the pale Orc and Bilbo rose to the occasion and rushed to help him knowing that he was probably going to die a painful death. Bilbo had become a hero full of courage and leadership.

The film was so long we had to wake mum up!

The ending was definitely an annoying cliff hanger because Smaug, the dragon only opened his eyes.

I think the story had a message in it. To take all the opportunities that are offered to you.

My rating of this film is 10 out of 10 and I can't wait for the next instalment.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

White Water Rafting Adventure.

Oscar and Lex

We jumped out of the bus as we parked. When we put our helmets on I was wondering what they were for. There were three rafts and the red raft was ours. They were inflatable not wood, bumpy and soft. We wedged our foot in the side. Our family was the first to start and we were surprised when the we looked at the bottom of the raft and it wasn't sealed up. There were holes in it and when we went over a bump all the water rushed in.

The guide told us to paddle then stop in Spanish. Adelante and alto.

It's called white water rafting because when the water goes over the rocks it makes bubbles like a jacuzzi. I felt a bit scared when we went over our first rapid. (Oscar) Soon I was jumping off rocks though! It was much more fun than a roller coaster ride.

Along the way we saw a snake,sloth,monkey,vultures and a kingfisher.

When we stopped for lunch me and dad (Lex) floated down the river on our backs . It hurt our bottoms when we went over rocks. When we came out of the water the rocks were so hot on my feet I felt that I was walking on hot coals on a game show.

I (Oscar) made a sandcastle. It was smooth around the edges and the rocks were boiling.

When we landed on the shore and had some sodas me (Lex) and Dad went into the bushes and tried to pull some berries out of a tree. I didn't realise it was an ants nest until the ants were swarming all over my hand and biting me. I looked at my arm and it was like a scene from a scary horror movie.

Thanks to Boquete Outdoor Adventures for a fantastic day out.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Living in Boquete


Good morning to all you folks around the world. I'm here to tell you about what we have been doing in Boquete.

After a short hop on a plane from Panama City to David our taxi dropped us off at the host family's house. It appeared to be the biggest house in the street. The others were run down, patched up,leaking and they reminded me of Charlie Buckets house in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They had a porch full of wind chimes and rocking chairs that looked like my grandad's old people's home. The family were a bit lacking in enthusiasm except my mate Alberto. He's 13 and lives here. There are people coming and going here all the time and a week later I'm still not sure who actually lives here!

Let me describe the house. Well the bathroom ! Here we go! First the toilet, they have a rule that you cannot put any paper in the toilet. It's really hard to remember after a number 2! Mum has had to fish out quite a bit of forgotten paper. The shower is also a bit crazy because the water seems straight from a glacier. It's freezing! Abuela thinks hot water is bad for the bones!

Abuela cooks breakfast and dinner for us. We usually have egg something for breakfast with the most delicious juice. One morning though abuela thought we needed vitamins and we had a rice nutrient drink that I didn't really like. I felt like I was a contestant from 'I'm a celebrity ' and struggled to keep it down.
For dinner we usually have rice, beans and unidentifiable meat of some kind. One day as a treat we had McDonald's style sandwiches . They tasted exactly the same as a Big Mac. Incredible!

The noise in the house is driving me mad! Aaahhh! The dogs bark continuously day and night, the cockerels crow in stereo constantly from every house and the TV blares rubbish all day long.

This photo of us is was taken outside the shop where we wait for a taxi in the morning although today we had to take a 15 seater bus but there were more like 30 people on it! School starts at 8 but its only until 10 . Me and Oscar have our own teacher called Mitzilla. The lessons have been fun and we have learnt a lot of Spanish eg. the days of the week , the colours and occupations.

When we were at school we met a family from Texas and enjoyed playing chess and chase after classes.

It's now the end of the week and school is out! Do I hear the cockerel crowing ha ha ha

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hot Springs!


Today I went to Spanish school. We learnt the days of the week and months of the year. After that we had a picnic with strawberries, grapes,Oreos and Pringles.

We climbed into the bus and a guide drove us away. The first thing he did was run out of petrol! We stopped to have a swim in a river with big fish. It was hot and we jumped off the rocks. There was a horse having a bath in the water. All the boys were throwing oranges at the girls.

Then we drove off to the hot springs. It was 40 degrees Celsius and smelt like rotten eggs. The pool was heated by volcanic heat. There were bubbles in the pool like a jacuzzi and we were a bit scared in case they were biting creatures. Afterwards we had to jump in the river to cool ourselves down.I covered myself in mud and threw some at Lex. There was a monkey that liked children. He was wild but was treated like a pet. The guide draped it round his neck.

We had a brilliant day out.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Panama Canal

Fact file: The Panama Canal

The first ship went through the canal in 1914.
The canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The average cost for a ship to travel through the canal is $100,000.
The most expensive passage was $419,000.
The canal cuts off thousands of miles for ships.
The canal drops 85 feet on total.
There are three sets of locks. Miraflores, Gatun and Pedro Miguel
Richard Halliburton swum the canal in 1926.

The photos show the gates closing and the water draining out to the next level.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Embera Tribe


First we went in a dug out canoe. I was amazed at how big it was. It was made out of a big sharp tree. There were logs in the river and they looked like crocodiles. The water looked murky.

We climbed out of the canoe and walked then swam to a waterfall. It was icy cold like my favourite ice-cream. We clung to the rocks as the current was so strong. Then we got back into the canoe and we rode to the village. They welcomed us with music. 

We went to a hut for lunch. The hut was on stilts 6 feet in the air so the snakes couldn't climb up. The floors were made of long strips of wood. First we had some pineapples bananas and oranges. They were wrapped in a banana leaf. They put palm leaves on top. Finally they did a dance and mummy joined in.