Hello and good day!
We had a Peruvian customer in our chocolate shop yesterday. She is from the city of Lima but has been living in the United States for 40 years. Her husband is American and has never learned to speak Spanish. They speak English in the house, and our customer has learned to speak English very well, but she and I spoke in Spanish.
I could see how much she relished having the opportunity to speak in her native tongue.I can relate to this.
When I've lived in Peru for long stretches, speaking nothing but Spanish all day every day, running into an English speaker and being able to say things exactly as I wanted to say them provided great pleasure.
From our conversation, I knew I could do something special for this lovely customer. In our chocolate shops, we play Spanish language music at all times. We rotate through various genres. I walked over to the device we use for choosing music and put on an old Peruvian song that I knew the customer would love.
The song was Propiedad Privada by Chabuca Granda. Propiedad Privada translates to "Private Property". In this song, the singer is talking to a man who has left her, and she misses him so much it breaks her heart.She considered him to be her own private property, and the fact that he is gone torments her.
Here are the opening lyrics:
"Te estoy buscando Porque mis labios extrañan tus besos de fuego Te estoy llamando. Y en mis palabras tan tristes mi voz es un rueg. Te necesito Porque sin verte mi vida no tiene sentido y van y van por el mundo mis pasos perdidos"
Here is the steamy translation:
"I'm looking for you. Because my lips miss your fiery kisses I'm calling for you And my sad words come out as begging. I need you., Because without seeing you my life has no meaning and I walk through the world with lost steps"
This song starts off with a bewitching traditional Peruvian accordion and guitar riff. As soon as the first note left the speaker, our customer recognized it. And as if she had lost all conscious control over her body, she stopped looking around and stopped talking, closed her eyes, and began to sway.
After about ten seconds, she looked up at me. "You are going to make me cry," she said. She told me that she listened to that song growing up. It reminded her of all the family lunches with her parents. She told me that she came from a big family. Her father was one of 10 siblings.
At family gatherings, the yard would fill up with aunts and uncles and cousins. This song came on all the time. In the time it took for a single note to come out of the speaker, she was back in her childhood. She was running around with her cousins in the yard.
She was listening to the older people tell stories. She could smell the food and feel the hot Lima sun against her young skin. She was physically standing in a chocolate shop in Issaquah, WA, but her mind and spirit were whisked away to 50 years earlier, in a different city, in a different country, and she could see the whole scene in her mind's eye. She was able to partially relive it.
Very few things facilitate time travel or stimulate emotions better than music.
If I hear a song that my wife and I listened to while we were dating, I can almost relive those special first months when we fell in love.
There are certain songs that remind me of standing in our cacao processing facility at 7pm in the evening, waiting for the buying fleet to show up with freshly harvested cacao. The fleet of motorcycles, station wagons, and pickup trucks would come crashing in, their motors chunking.
Prior to that, the team mostly lazed around in the late afternoon coolness, napping on benches in shadows, or sitting around talking. But when the fleet showed up, we kicked on the radio and got ready for 3-4 hours of hard physical work. We had to select out bad cacao and debris before getting all of the fresh cacao into clean fermentation boxes.
Bag after bag and bucket after bucket had to be sorted through and put into boxes. The sound of wet cacao sloshing. Young men hustling and yelling and grunting and trying. Supervisors barking orders, directing traffic. And Latino pop blaring on the radio.
If the electricity was out, which was often, we'd turn on motorcycle headlights to light up the fermentation room. Fresh cacao has to go into boxes the same day it is harvested if you want to make really good chocolate. The radio had batteries and the music was always on.
After 3-4 hours of sloshing in cacao, our hands would be caked with slimy mucilage. We took turns washing our hands in the sink. Then we had to hose down and scrub the facility before heading home. We all walked home in the dark, tired and satisfied. The best kind of tired is when you've spent yourself doing good quality work. The music kept blasting right up until the very end.
Right before we left, we cut the music, and then it was silent and dark. We walked through the big double door metal gate, and it clanked shut behind us. Then the rattling of the thick chain as we pulled it through the metal hoops on the outside of the doors.Then the click of the padlock.
Then a couple dozen young men saying goodbye to each other and walking through the streets of a small town. The sound of music coming out of a little bar up the road and the sound of a rushing river. And other than those noises, the quiet of a small, remote, town at night.
Each young man knocks on his door at home, and somebody opens it to let him in. The comfort of home when you are tired and spent and want to rest. I can remember it all if I think of a song. I don't think there is anything else quite like music to take you back.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!