Fast forward. I’ve now been back in California for two and a half weeks, after shipping the beans via container out of Tongatapu. They are due to arrive early next week in Los Angeles, and there’s my end to the long curing season. I brought a suitcase full of the beans that needed a bit more drying, and was able to cure them at the factory.
When I arrived in LAX, I had to go through the agricultural inspection. I opened my suitcase for the officer and he shut his eyes and breathed in the aroma, which was so wonderful it brought tears to my eyes. “Thank you for that,” he said. “You are good to go.”
My last day in Tonga, in between errands to the Quarantine Office and Customs Brokers, we were able to visit our favorite grower who—serendipitously—was spending a beautiful morning pollinating his vanilla orchids. Turns out, my last day in Tonga was the first for pollinating next season’s crop.
Here’s the end: in a new beginning. So, enjoy the photos of these exquisite vanilla orchids.
I can smell next season’s beans already.
‘Ofa atu, Tonga.