Hello and good day!
The little shop in the photo above is in the village of La Mushca.
I've written about La Mushca several times in these daily emails.It is one of the 80 or so small cacao farming villages we buy cacao from.
Pure Nacional cacao grows wildly in all of them.
When we take visitors out to campo, we almost always take them out to La Mushca, even though it is a risky proposition. If it rains hard, there are some creeks that swell up and are hard to pass. It is easy to get stuck out there. Our cacao buying team has been stranded out there on many occasions.
The gentleman in between my dad and brother in this photo is Ediberto Hernandez, called "Dilbe" by his friends and family. He is the mayor of La Mushca, and has been for a long time.
His wife runs their bodega and together they have 6 kids. They are a devout Catholic family and are very morally upstanding people.Their kids are very modest and polite.
They are a wonderful family and Dilbe's farm is way up on top of a hill. It is an adventure to take visitors hiking up that tremendous hill to his cacao farm.
If you ever get around to watching the Peru episode of Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain, there is a scene in which Anthony Bourdain gets tired hiking up a hill.
That is Dilbe's property.
One of the fun things about hiking with a guy like Dilbe is he points out all of the natural medicinal herbs, plants, animals, and other interesting little details that a non-local might miss.
Also, I love his bodega. It is a very humble bodega. What is in this photo is all there is. And it is the only bodega in town. There is a small pharmacy in La Mushca as well. Whatever cacao farm families want that doesn't grow on their farms, they have to get from this bodega.
Otherwise, they have to take a long, somewhat perilous trip to Puerto Ciruelo, the port city located on the Chinchipe river.
Sunday is market day in Puerto Ciruelo and that is when a lot of people come out of their little villages. But during the week, or if you don't want to go to market day, what you see in this photo is what there is.
Packaged cookies. Canned beans and tuna. Batteries.Dish soap and laundry detergent. Noodles. Oil. Instant coffee. Evaporated milk.And a handful of other things. That's about it for variety out there.
Even though the selection is humble and the shop is small, it is always very well organized and clean.The bodega's unpolished concrete floor is tough to sweep.There are a lot of little nooks and crannies for dust to get into, but it is always as clean as it can be.
To the left of the table in the photo, there is a kitchen, and if you turn right out of the kitchen, you will be in the family house back behind the shop. This is a common setup in much of Peru and in campo The bodegas are in front of the houses. The houses are built like that intentionally.
Almost every other bodega you go into out in campo is much more run down than this. People are usually sitting around watching telenovelas and when you walk in, they nod half-heartedly at you and keep watching the show until you push the issue of why you came. The stuff is usually strewn around all over the place.
And if something can't be found easily, one of the shop's owners will begrudgingly drag themselves away from the show and start searching behind and underneath piles.
But not in the Hernandez bodega. It is always spic and span and the family takes pride in their work.
The bodega also doubles as the village's town hall and on the occasion when this photo was taken, the cacao farmers around the village had come to hear Dan and Brian give a talk about our project.
Anyhow, the great lesson we've learned from Dilbe and so many others out in campo is that you can always take pride in your work and your environment no matter how humble it is.
Thank you for giving me a moment of your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!