Hello and good day!
If you need a little perspective, it never hurts to remember that the universe is immense, and time is unimaginably long.
We're here for a short period and occupy a small space.
Even titans of the world end up forgotten.
When was the last time you thought about Genghis Kahn or John D. Rockefeller?
The big names of our time will soon be nothing more than historical entries living in dusted our library books that few people will get around to reading.
The oldest artifact in existence showing human consumption of cacao was discovered about twenty miles north of our operation.
A Peruvian archeologist found it buried on the banks of the Chinchipe River, which is the river that runs right in front of the canyon where we buy cacao.
Carbon dating showed the bowl to be 5,000 years old give or take 100 years. There was mashed cacao residue around the sides of the dish.
5,000 years. That's a long time.
Here's something to bend your mind.
Whoever prepared cacao in that bowl thought that their life was every bit as important as each of us thinks our life is.
They woke up in the morning with plans for their day.
They talked to friends. They had a family. They had brothers and sisters and parents and kids. They believed in their God or Gods.
At some moment in their life, they left a cacao mashing bowl behind on the riverbank and never came back for it. Now the bowl is sitting on a shelf in a museum in Jaen, Peru.
There existed a flourishing and industrious ancient civilization up and down the Chinchipe.
If you look up Chinchipe and "huaca" you can see shrines that have endured through the ages.
A lot of people think of the Incas as an ancient civilization, but they weren't. And they didn't last very long either.
Their apex of power lasted less than 100 years, roughly from 1438 until 1533 when Spanish conquistadores arrived in South America. The Incas controlled vast territory, for a short period of time, not too long ago in the grand scheme of things.
There was a ferocious and determined civilization on the northern Incan border who the Incas were never able to subdue. The Incas called them the Pakamuros and they occupied what is now modern-day Jaen.
It was the Spanish who were able to push the Pakamuros out of Jaen and into the surrounding countryside. The Pakamuros were a large and well-organized society, and they displaced the pre-existing Chinchipe culture, pushing them deeper east into the jungle.
Cut off from their infrastructure and flanked by expansionary Spaniards, the Pakamuros reverted to hunting and gathering and their population thinned over time.
This state of affairs continued on for four hundred years until 1968.Four hundred years is just five, eighty-year lifetimes.
The United States has only existed for two hundred and seventy-six years, just three and a half eighty-year lifetimes.
In 1968, the Peruvian government carried out land reform.
On paper, descendants of Spanish conquistadores owned all the jungle land where the Pakamuros had been hunting and gathering for centuries. But the land was remote and hard to bring under production.
As such it had been left alone.
With land reform, the jungle came under new ownership and thousands of Peruvian families staked ownership claims to settle the new frontier.
The Pakamuros and remnants of the pre-existing Chinchipe culture, the Awajun, were swept out of the canyon that is now the district of Huarango, where we buy and process cacao.
The Pakamuros and the Awajun moved east into the interior to settle among other native tribes who had previously migrated. As an aside, those tribes are still out there to this very day, hunting and gathering.
Members of those tribes have the exact same physiology and cognition as people living in more modern and developed environments.
The way they feel about their lives is identical to how you and I feel about our own lives.
Prior to the bowl, prior to the huacas, prior to the Awajun and Pakamuros, the Incas, the Spanish conquest, land reform, the district of Huarango, Fortunato Chocolate, the United States, Ghengis Khan, the Pharaohs, and the twelve tribes of Israel, cacao was already growing.
The mountain ridges that enclose the canyon in a triangle had already sprung up and were already 5,000 feet tall. The Chinchipe already ran in front of the canyon and these natural barriers kept midges from cross pollinating the trees with other cacao populations.
Midges can't fly over tall mountains or cross wide rivers.
Pure Nacional cacao trees inbred and inbred and inbred, long before human history, and through it.
And then, in 2008, my brother and my dad were out on the farm of Noe Vasquez looking at cacao seeds that had turned white on the inside. White cacao is the result of extensive inbreeding between related cacao trees that live and spawn in isolation.
Noe, his brother Juan, my dad, and my brother, were kneeling around a cut off tree trunk looking at a split open cacao pod.
It was quiet and hot even though they were in the shade of a cacao grove. Mosquitos landed and slurped on necks. Sweat dripped from hairlines down into eyes. Knees settled deeper into the crunching debris left to rot on the farm floor.
White cacao. This was our next opportunity.
Before we did any genetic testing and before the USDA genetics lab informed us that there was a thought to be extinct variety of cacao growing in the canyon, it was the allure of white cacao that attracted us.
Noe knew it was a jewel of nature.
Brian moved out to the jungle a month later and began the arduous, two-year process of building up a cacao buying and processing operation.
In 2009, the USDA genetics lab told us what we'd come across.
In 2010 we made our first chocolate sale to a chain of Swiss bakeries.
It's fifteen years later now.
All this time, we've been piggybacking on something that took hundreds of thousands or millions of years to develop. Whole civilizations sprang up and disappeared.
A lot of people lived, and a lot of people died.
All the while, the cacao trees were there, in that canyon, isolated from the world. And we were fortunate enough to come across them.
The hugeness of the universe.
The great expanse that is time.
Our present is always on the cutting edge.
We reap the benefits of all that has come before.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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