Hello and good day!
Wili is a quiet, stocky man. He lost one of his legs in a motorcycle accident not too long ago And we are pretty sure that he is a feared local gangster now.
We decided to send a gun man with our first several shipments of cacao back in the day. Some of our team members heard rumblings that a new gang had been formed and that they were robbing freight trucks on the road out of campo to the closest big city, Jaen.
Rumor had it that the new gang was operating out of a little village called Shumba, which had a reputation for drunkenness and violence. The team advised Brian that it would be good to send somebody with a shotgun along with the truck.
The way to do it, according to our local experts, was to put the gunman on the roof of the truck and have him posed with his shotgun in a highly visible way. If the thieves saw a truck with a gun, they were likely to let it go by without incident.
Better to wait for easier prey.
By the way, this is a mindset that Brian use everywhere he went around Jaen, especially coming out of the bank with thousands of dollars of cash on him for buying cacao.
He always looked everybody dead in the eyes. He carried a knife on his belt in public. At all times he put off an energy that trying to rob him would lead to a dangerous tussle. .
Carrying himself in this way didn't stave off all crime, but it kept away a lot.
Out in campo, a shotgun is not a hard thing to come by. Almost all the farmers have a gun of some sort. The guns are mostly for protecting families against wild animals. They'd certainly shoot down an malevolent intruder as well. But that isn't common.
Brian asked the team who was going to ride on the roof with a gun. The group answered unanimously. Wili would do it. Brian asked why Wili. Juan, our most outspoken team member, answered that Wili would be willing to shoot somebody if he had to.
Wili it was.
With Wili on top carrying a shotgun, our trucks passed without problem. When he wasn't riding on top of freight trucks with shotguns, Wili worked in our processing facility.
He was a good hard worker. He talked very little. You could get him to laugh a little bit, but you would have to say something very funny.
A couple years back, Wili and another one of our long time team members, Lenin, got into a terrible motorcycle accident.There is a river that runs right in front of the canyon where we buy cacao. On the other side of the river is a road that takes you to Jaen in one direction and Ecuador in the other.
Beneath that road, next to the river crossing, there is a sheer rock wall that is about forty feet tall. The road runs over a cliff on top of the rock wall. Even higher up, behind the cliff and the road, is another rock wall. Driving over the cliff is dicey because rocks fall down into the road all the time. When somebody swerves to avoid a rock, they could tumble off that forty foot cliff.
Anyhow, Lenin and Wili were riding together on a motorcycle when a big rock rolled into the road. They swerved to avoid it and their motorcycle rolled over. Both ended up in the hospital needing immediate medical attention.
Wili ended up with half of one leg amputated. It was a very sad thing.
Our company paid all the medical bills for both Lenin and Wili. We pick up medical expenses for a lot of folks out there in campo. Health insurance isn't a thing people have out there.
Last time Brian was in Peru, which was a few months ago, he was in a restaurant eating lunch out in campo when Wili and a couple of other guys walked in.
Brian noticed that everybody tensed up when they saw Wili. Nobody looked Wili straight in the eyes. Wili had a strong, quiet, confident, serious, ruthless demeanor about him.
That is why Brian thinks he is probably a gangster now.
A gangster out in campo could be selling drugs or running a prostitution ring or could be in charge of a gang that robs trucks or could be running numbers. Hopefully it is none of those things and Brian misread the situation.
Brian doesn't intimidate easily. He walked up to Wili and gave him a handshake and a hug. Wili thanked Brian for paying his medical bills and for giving him work all those years.
It was cordial.
When Wili walked to other the side of the restaurant to take a table, every in Brian's party breathed a sigh of relief. Thankfully we don't have to send our shipments with a shotgunner on the roof anymore, at least not for the time being.
And if Wili actually is head of a new gang of truck thieves, thank goodness we paid his medical bills and are on his good side.
This is where chocolate our comes from. It is luxurious and delicious when it is all said and done. But it comes from a hard scrabble place.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!