This is the exact same meeting hall as the photo in Part One, and this photo only shows Half of the hall.
The entire venue was regularly packed to capacity with hundreds of cacao farmers.
It got so full that people were standing around the perimeter of the hall, leaning up against walls. All of them are our partners, selling cacao into our project for our wonderful Fortunato No. 4 chocolate.
After the meetings, the attendees line up to sign an attendance log. That is what the folks are lined up for in the background.My brother Brian is standing next to a farmer named Don Victorio Vasquez, a very wise and gentle man.
I'd like to put a pin in that for a second.
I have my mom in town at the moment and she brought some old videos for us to watch. One of them contains footage of the grand opening of the Horton Grand Hotel in downtown San Diego in 1986.
That is the hotel that my dad built from the ground up. It was an unbelievable project. The city of San Diego was trying to develop downtown but there were a lot of historical buildings down there that were designated as historical landmarks.
There was a stalemate between the historical society and the city of San Diego about what to do with an old building, the Horton Grand Hotel. it was on a site where the city of San Diego wanted to build a new shopping mall.
The historical society wouldn't let the city demolish the Horton Grand Hotel named after the founder of San Diego. as a result, work on the mall came to a standstill. Lack of development in downtown had caused the whole area to become a very dangerous slum.
Folks with nowhere else to go went to downtown and lived on the street. It was skid row.
Anyhow, my dad came on the scene with a concept. He wanted to take apart the old building on the mall site and put it back together somewhere else. But it wasn't just that. He wanted to use the original materials as part of a new, Victorian style hotel.
A blend of the past and the future. The historical society went for it. The city was grateful that somebody broke the stalemate, and to show their appreciation, the city contributed land to the project.
There was another old hotel that was about to be demolished and my dad collected the materials from that old hotel and used them in the construction of the new building as well.
It took six years to design and build the Horton Grand. In this old video my mom brought, my dad is giving a speech to a huge crowd, thanking everybody for coming to the grand opening.
It was such a special day. If you ever end up in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, check out the Horton Grand.
That hotel is to a large extent what made the entire development of the Gaslamp possible. And now the Gaslamp is one of the swankiest, most happening places in all of San Diego.
It broke the deadlock and was the first really nice property developed in what was a slum. The hotel has different owners now, descendants of a business partner who through dishonesty and questionable legal tatics took ownership of the hotel from my father and his partners.
But that is a whole other topic.
Anyhow, here is the point I wanted to make and it is something of a bitter pill. Every project that is good and meaningful and worthwhile takes at least 5-6 years to come to fruition.
So if you don't have 5-6 years to dedicate to something, it probably won't end successfully. That is rough because whenever you start a new project, you can imagine the end result in your mind.
You can see it so clearly in your mind and imagining something is instant. This creates a huge disconnect between what you have in your mind and what is required by reality and that can be discouraging.
But that is real life. It always takes at least 5-6 years to get something new up and running and sustainable. And that means you better care a lot about what you are doing because you'll have to stick it out for a good long time before it works out.
This also brings to mind the old saying about planting a walnut tree. When was the best time to plant a walnut tree?
Ten years ago.
When is the second best time?
If you have something great you want to get up and running and it is going to take five years, the best time to start is right now.
Anyhow, as you may be able to tell, I am very proud of my brother and my dad. They are two of the toughest, most patient, and most resilient people I have ever known.
They eat 6 years for breakfast and I am so lucky to have them.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!