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What Cacao Farmers do on Sundays

What Cacao Farmers do on Sundays

Hello and good day!

Did you ever hear the song Easy by The Commodores? It is the one that says "I'm easy like Sunday morning" in the chorus.

For the longest time, I assumed that it was an ode to Sunday mornings. But then I got around to actually listening to the lyrics. It is a about a man leaving a woman.

He gives his reasons for leaving.

The woman is trying to control him. She won't let him be who he wants to be. He says she is putting chains on him. What's more, he has done everything he can to make her happy.He has gone so far as to beg, steal, and borrow.

That is why he doesn't feel any guilt whatsoever about his decision.

He is so at peace with the decision that he describes himself as feeling as easy as Sunday morning.And as we all know, Sunday morning is an easy time.

You sleep in.

You putter.

You mosey around.

You are free to just kick back and enjoy life on Sundays.

So to feel easy like Sunday mornings, as the song says, means to feel totally at peace with your decisions. I've taken the meaning from that song and I now use it for my own purposes.

If you've given it your all during the week....If you've really done all that you can to make your life work well....Then you've earned the right to take a day off, and Sunday is a good day for that.

Or if you are busy on Sundays, then hopefully you have at least one day during the week when you can kick your feet up and enjoy the feeling of being free from obligations and stress.

Speaking of Sundays, out in campo where we buy cacao, Sunday is market day. On Sundays, everybody makes their way to Puerto Ciruelo from their farms. Puerto Ciruelo is the little town where we've always had our office.

The town sits right on the bank of the Chinchipe river. Ciruelo means plum and puerto means port. One of the original inhabitants of the district settled very near to the Chichipe river.On his land, he planted bright, red, plum trees which could be seen from a distance.

Those coming to visit the region knew they were in the right place once they saw the trees. Hence the name Puerto Ciruelo.

During the week, the little downtown area of Puerto Ciruelo is very sleepy and quiet. Downtown is essentially a six block street running from the docking area on the river laterally to a road that goes uphill and takes you out of town to farms.

In the hills beyond Puerto Ciruelo, there are twisty roads that take you out to about 80 little farming villages. On the farms in those villages is where we buy the cacao for our chocolate.

For the longest time, our cacao processing facility was in Puerto Ciruelo, but now it is in a little town called Cigaro De Oro, the golden cigarette.

Anyhow, on Sundays, the sleepy little town of Puerto Ciruelo bustles with activity.On market day, farmers make the trek from their farms to town, bringing crops and animals sell.

Sunday is when most buyers of coffee and cattle come to town to make purchases. After wheeling and dealing on Sunday morning, farm families have some cash in their pockets. Conveniently, vendors pop up a makeshift open market on the six block downtown street on Sunday.

You can find clothing, jewelry, tools, cooking essentials, repair parts for all kinds of household items, toilet bowls, and all kinds of other stuff. This is a time to use newly earned money to load up on needed items.

This is the purpose of Sunday morning in Puerto Ciruelo. Sunday afternoon is a little less savory. Sunday afternoon is a time for getting drunk and partying.

The farmers in this region work extremely hard. They work long, hard hours under the hot jungle sun. Sunday afternoon is a time for blowing off steam.

The custom for drinking beer in most of Peru is for a group of friends to all share one cup to drink their beer. One person fills up the cup and throws back the beer. Then the next person fills up that same cup and takes their turn, and the cup keeps going around until everybody in the group gets good and sauced.

Refusing to drink beer from the cup when offered to you is considered an important insult. If either me or Brian are walking around downtown Puerto Ciruelo on Sunday afternoon, group after group will proposition us to come over and drink with them.

Mind you, we buy from about 500 cacao farms...It is a lot of propositioning. But we really don't like getting drunk.Unfortunately, to decline is taken as an insult. And the insult appears to be amplified when a person is drunk.

We've been shouted at, threatened, and called awful names for refusing to come over and drink. Of course, the next day we receive heart felt apologies. But the experience is best avoided in the first place.

That is why we choose to stay indoors and watch TV, read, or do admin work on Sunday afternoons. Another thing you see in Puerto Ciruelo is the local cantinas converting into pop up brothels.

You also see a lot of fighting. We've advised the people who work for us not to hang around downtown on Sunday afternoon. One of our workers had a knife pulled on him once by his wife's ex boyfriend.


Turned out that the ex-boyfriend had a long term grudge against our wonderful employee Jorge for taking his girl. Thankfully, Jorge got out of there without any damage done. If our workers have nothing to do, we advise them to come hang around the office and watch movies.

Beer is not the only thing people drink out there in campo.They also drink agua ardiente, which is a super strong booze made from sugar cane. Agua ardiente translates to fire water.  The folks out there also like to drink rum and cokes.

As the day drags on, you'll start to see folks passed on on the street. And of course the music will be blaring until all hours of the night.

But on Monday morning, all of these folks will be back out on their farms, with their families, grinding out a living. Puerto Ciruelo inevitably turns back into the sleepy, tame place that it is for 6 days of the week.

I hope that you have a great Sunday today.And if there is a Puerto Ciruelo style raging in your neighborhood, stay indoors!

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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