Hello and good day!
Gilberto and his wife Julieta laid together in bed.
Julieta was asleep, but Gilberto had been awakened by the sound of a dog barking. At first the dog barked and snarled loudly, and this startled Gilberto out of his slumber. Then the dog quieted to a yelp before going silent.
From his bed, Gilberto heard the sound of footsteps squishing in wet soil. It was raining out, but the rain was nothing more than a soft patter on the house's aluminum roof.
Through the window in his room, Gilberto could see that the night was glowing white from moon and starlight. Gilberto jumped out of bed and scurried to the window.
He already knew who was out there, but he wanted to see, just to be sure. As he had suspected, it was his oldest son, Josue.
And there was only one reason why Josue would be out so late.
He'd snuck out to see his girlfriend.
Gilberto felt blood run hotly to his face and his heart pounded thuddingly, as if it were filling up his entire chest. His breath pulsed in and out so fast that he lost control of it.
He had prohibited Josue from sneaking out and Josue had disobeyed.
It was too late to have an argument.
Gilberto didn't want to wake up the rest of the family.
Josue was the oldest of seven siblings and everybody else in the family was sleeping.
The next morning during breakfast, Gilberto discussed the family's plan for the day. Josue's six younger siblings were in school.
After breakfast, they would prepare their supplies and commence the five-mile hike through the jungle to the schoolhouse.
Josue had been in high school, but the national government hadn't assigned a new high school professor to their village that year.
"Josue, me and you will prune the cacao trees all day today. I will take the north half of the farm and you will take the south half," said Gilberto.
Josue's eyes were droopy and bloodshot from having slept so little the night before.
"Do we have to dad? Can't I rest today?"
"Rest? Rest from what?" said Gilberto.
"I slept really bad last night. I don't have much energy."
"No, we cannot rest today son. If we don't prune the trees, they will become diseased. And if the trees become diseased, the crop will be small. And if the crop is small, we won't have enough money to send you kids to school. No rest today son. Let's go everybody."
Julieta cleaned the table and the younger kids prepared themselves.
Gilberto mussed the hair of each of his children on their way out.
"Work hard kids. Have a great day today."
He sat down on the concrete porch in front of his house and pulled his black rubber boots onto his feet. He stood and grabbed his leather belt and machete holster from where they were hanging on a white clothesline over the porch.
He lifted his machete off a wooden table, stuck it in the holster, and fastened the belt around his waist.
Josue was in the doorway, still in his socks.
Julieta was on the other side of the house, doing laundry in an irrigation creek.
"Let's go son," said Gilberto.
"Not today dad. I need more sleep."
"No son. It's time to work."
"I said not today dad!"
"Josue, listen to me. It's not the family's fault that you snuck out last night instead of going to bed on time. But now we must do what is right."
Josue did not move from the doorway.
Gilberto looked his son intensely in the eyes.
"The dog woke me up last night Josue. I saw you sneaking in. I was so angry that I almost came out to yell at you in the middle of the night, but I didn't want to wake everybody."
"I don't care that you saw me dad. You can't stop me from seeing her."
"You might be right about that Josue. I can't watch you every minute of the day."
Gilberto paused and let out a sigh through his nose.
"Josue, I couldn't go back to sleep last night. All I could think about is what to say to you."
"This is what you came up with?"
"No Josue. Actually, I wasn't going to say anything. I wanted to give you a chance to do the right thing today before talking about your disobedience. But now you don't even want to do what's right for your family."
Josue looked down at the ground.
"Listen to me son. Everybody in this world makes mistakes. Nobody is perfect. And you are young. You don't understand why it isn't right to sneak out the way you have been. You don't know what kind of pain you might be causing that girl's family. You haven't learned that sometimes in life, you must sacrifice your individual desires for the good of the whole. What I wanted to tell you was that I forgive you."
Josue looked at his father in silence for several seconds and let the words sink in.
He walked to the table and grabbed a machete.
He crouched down and pulled out his black rubber boots from under the table and then crawled to the edge of the porch to put them on.
He stood up and pulled down his belt with the machete holster from the clothesline and fastened them around his waist.
"Before we go son. I want you to remember this. Anytime you make a mistake, you can always try to make it right the next day. Nobody is perfect. But every day is a new day. Thank you for doing your best today son.
"I'll go south dad."
Gilberto patted his son on the arm, and each walked off in their own direction.
One of the best lessons we've learned from doing business in Peru for more than twenty years is that people are the same everywhere.
Human nature is fairly homogeneous across cultures.
Teenagers are teenagers everywhere, on a cacao farm in the jungle, or in the city.
Also, nobody is perfect.
We're all imperfect people just trying to do the best we can.
On any given day, all we can do is try our hardest to be a good person and take care of our obligations.
This is the only way to leave our indiscretions behind us.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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