Sotavento - Rustic lodging and luxury camping in Punta Banco, Costa RIca

Sotavento Plantanal has 18,000 cacao plants distributed throughout the property. Planted in 1983, the cacao orchards yield the cacao fruits shown on the right. The fruit inside the husk contains the seeds that are processed in the area to yield pure chocolate. Since planting, the chocolate market experienced setbacks, and the cacao has not been groomed annually and has become overgrown. Sotavento is in the process of restoring a harvestable orchard, but for the time being it is an endless supply of monkey food and draws wildlife onto the property. Chocolate has been used for centuries by the area GuaymĂ­ Indians to make chocolate drinks. Commercial production of cacao remains a mainstay of the Costa Rican agricultural economy, alongside coffee, sugar, bananas, and flowers.

Black pepper was planted on Sotavento Plantanal in 1984. At present there are hundres of plants distributed along the beachfront coastal plane. The pepper seed pods are dried in the sun and ground for use as a condiment. Both the lodges are supplied with a pepper mill and a bag of fresh whole pepper. Packages of pepper are available for purchase to all guests as gifts or for domestic use. To the left is a modest harvest of pepper pods drying in the sun. Below is a picture of the pepper plant itself.