Hello and good day!
The photo is a picture of my brother Brian An excellent question to ask is why in the world is Brian, an American from San Diego, CA out on a cacao farm in a remote corner of the northern Peruvian jungle? It is a long story, but basically I can sum it up in one short sentence.
Brian is a rambling man.
His heart yearns to go from place to place and from adventure to adventure. It turns out that the zone where we buy cacao has enough adventures to have kept him occupied for a good long time.
But in general, he is always looking for some new challenge, something new to see, and something daring to sink his teeth into. It is funny how so much of our personality is formed during our childhood.
It is especially interesting because nobody gets to sign off on the terms of engagement of their childhood. You are born into it and you don't have much choice but to accept it, for better or for worse.
Brian and I have the same mom and different dads.
Brian is 14 years older than I am. My mom, Kit, married my dad, Dan, when Brian was 10 years old and my dad has acted as a second father to Brian from that point on. Brian's biological father, Dave, is a good man too.
However, because of who Brian's parents are, Brian started his rambling ways early in life. Kit and Dave got divorced when Brian was just a little guy.
Kit ended up with primary custody, but Brian traveled to see his dad in Sacramento one weekend a month and during the summers. At age 4, Brian started flying by himself to Sacramento once a month from San Diego.
The minimum age to fly back then was 5 years old. So in the beginning, Brian lied about his age to get on the plane. Those were the times back then at the airport, you could simply fudge your age to get on a plane.
For many, many years, Brian was on a plane once a month, by himself, and then spending every summer away from his school friends. During Brian's childhood, our mother started a theatre company.
She was a single mom, working a full time job, and starting up a theatre company in downtown San Diego in her free time. That is a busy woman.
This meant that a lot of the time, Brian was either alone in the house taking care of himself, wandering the streets with friends, playing and exploring, or in downtown San Diego helping our mom with the theatre.
Downtown San Diego at that time, in the 1970s, was extremely gritty. Lots of drug dealing, and prostitution, and gang activity in downtown San Diego during that time. Also, the theatre crowd in the 1970s wasn't exactly setting the highest moral standards.
Brian spent a lot of time in downtown San Diego with the theatre crowd. He worked the register in the box office and was on hand see our mother producing many, many plays.
When Brian was 10 years old, he got lost in Israel. You read that right. He got lost and had to find his way back to the hotel alone, in the country of Israel. We're of Jewish descent, our mother being 99.99% Ashkenazi Jew according to a DNA test.
My mom, and our grandma Sybil, and a bunch of Brian's cousins all decided to take a trip to the holy land together.On a guided tour, there were supposed to be two tour buses going back to the hotel.
Somehow, Brian was instructed by a cousin to wait for the second tour bus, but the second tour bus never came.Speaking no Hebrew, and with no money to his name, armed only with the fact that their hotel was near the tallest building in Tel-Aviv, Brian set out on a multi-hour odyssey in which he eventually found his way back to the hotel by himself.
In high school, Brian's dad Dave moved around a lot, and Brian ended up going to 3 different high schools in 4 years. The instability was so detrimental that Brian flunked his senior year of high school and ended up joining the army.
After the army, Brian decided to take a trip through southeast Asia. Then he got a good job which had him on the road, traveling on business constantly.
From age 25 to age 36, Brian was in a committed, loving relationship, but he was on the road for work all the time and he wasn't able to pull the trigger on getting married and having kids.
The rambling man couldn't stomach the stability of settling into a normal family life.At age 36, Brian quit his traveling job to tend bar at night and start a business with my dad Dan.
Through a crazy series of events, Brian ended up living in the mountain town of Cajamarca, Peru selling equipment to a gold mine.While in Peru, Brian broke up with his long time girlfriend and then after about a year and a half of being single, fell in love with his current wife.
But right when he was falling in love, our mining business came to an end and Brian had to hit the road to find something new to do.
Brian's girlfriend at the time, Ceci, lived in Cajamarca, while Brian roamed Peru, first attempting to put together a project to buy and sell trout near Lima, and then attempting to produce ethanol by growing sugar cane in the vast coastal deserts of northern Peru.
When neither of those panned out. Brian started looking for something new. Around this time, when Brian was 38, Brian's girlfriend turned wife Ceci got pregnant. Brian started teaching English to make ends meet while he looked for a new business to get into.
Right after Brian's first child was born, his beautiful and wonderful daughter Amara, Brian hit the road to go see about a potential business opportunity buying and selling fruits and vegetables.
Through another crazy series of events, Brian wound up out in a place called the district of Haurango, looking at cacao farms.You almost get tired of saying one thing led to another when talking about Brian, but here it comes.
One thing led to another, and Brian started leaving his new wife and newly born child every couple of weeks to go out to the northern Peruvian jungle to build a cacao buying and processing operation.
Lest you think Brian has a cold heart for leaving his family behind to ramble so frequently, you should know that the mine by that time had become a shell of its former self and Cajamarca was primarily a mining town.
Almost all of the men in Cajamarca were going on the road to support their families.But not all of the men were gringos, going out to a part of the jungle where almost no gringos had ever gone before.
Only a rambling man would do something like that. And only a rambling man, used to living by his wits, could actually be accepted by a community under such circumstances.
It turns out that the rambler's secret to winning people over is to be a genuinely good person who actually cares about doing the right thing.For more than a decade, Brian said goodbye to his family every couple of weeks, to head back out to the jungle.
That is how the picture above came to occur. Brian's rambling ways started all the way back in his childhood. They were a tool of adaptation. A necessity of the circumstances.
Thankfully those survival tools served Brian, and our family, and hundreds of cacao farmers, and thousands of chocolate lovers well.
I've obviously left out tons of details here due to space constraints.I assure you that I've barely scratched the surface of the rambling man that is Brian Horsley.
When the book I am writing is published, you will get a full look at just what a fascinating and extraordinary character Brian Horsley is.And he has been my big brother this entire time, so I have had a front row seat.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!