Drove high into countryside (4000ft) to visit Don Fortunato’s farm. Great talk with Dan Pearson, co-founder of maranon chocolate, along the winding bumpy roads. Humidity hugs the lush green hills and valleys, we are given a break from scorching heat today, in place of a couple of heavy downpours which are a welcome sight for a Scotsman. At the farmhouse we are greeted by Fortunato, his son Jose and grandson Loui. We get along instantly, very easy and likeable characters, very patient with us and all our questions. Fortunato asks us questions about Scotland, we discuss the differences, mainly in agriculture and pace of life. I hand over several bars of chocolate made from their beans to Fortunato, thanks to the cooler weather they are in good shape. Coloured pencils, crayons and scottish sweets for Loui and his sister. Fortunato brings us to their family bedroom and digs out a poly bag, inside there is a giant colourful poster / banner of cacao that Dan must have had made for some reason unknown. He tells me it was used as their dinner table cloth but now they have a new linen one with clear plastic to protect it. We are really touched by this gift, a tear makes it way down my cheek as I write this. We take so much for granted in the UK.
We begin a tour of the farm. This high up there is lots of coffee, which is Fortunato’s best cash crop. It is very unusual to find cacao growing this high, mixed together with coffee. The height must contribute to the flavours. There is an abundance of tropical fruits all growing together with the cacao. Glossy pods jut out of the trunks everywhere, in green, yellow and deep reds. Silent moments amongst the trees and pods focus my overwhelmed mind.
I talk a lot with Jose, I confirm his suspicions about men wearing skirts in Scotland by showing him a picture from our wedding, great laughter. On hearing Friederike is from Germany his first word is Hitler, which causes an awkward silence. Jose studied history.
For a short time I swap my £900 digital slr camera with Loui (9 years old) for his slingshot. I show him how to take photos, his younger sister Janis gets involved and we take loads of photos. Loui is walking barefoot and gets a cut in his foot, I offer to do something like wrap it but Jose says no, Loui is basically told to man up, and wear shoes. Eventually after many ‘ows’ Jose gives Loui one of his shoes. I get pretty good with the sling shot.
Back at the farms we begin lunch prepared by Fortunato’s wife, turkey pasta and potatoes, avocado salad. Lots of lime juice to season, home made lemonade and excellent marinade on the turkey.
A long winding and thoughtful drive back across river follows. A combination of bumpy roads and foreign bacteria leads to discomfort that can only be helped by a long period of stillness and sleep. Thank goodness I brought those earplugs, as it would seem Peru never sleeps.