I would say one of the best parts of running a chocolate company is getting to work with people. There are ups and downs of course, but people are what make life interesting and delightful, right? We LOVE that we get to work with and serve all of our local friends in Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas, and it's also a huge privilege to get to work with some amazing people overseas when we get the chance.
While in Uganda this March, Charles got to spend some time with some cacao farmers just southeast of the capital city, Kampala. One fascinating thing about travel is that you can usually run into all sorts of different culture within just miles from one location. Just miles outside of Kampala is a beautiful southern region of Uganda called Mayuge. If you've ever been to Kampala, it's incredibly busy - packed with people, cars and "boda bodas" (motorcycle taxis) - but if you just take a drive outside the city, you'll find the most beautiful and serene landscape.
Charles tells more of his story to Mayuge:
If you didn't catch the first part of the story, click here.
"With my 40lb bean purchase in hand, I realized I knew very little about this place I was in, their home, Mayuge. While Uganda is one of the world's most linguistically diverse places, most people understand the way to say 'Hello' in the country's national language, Luganda: 'Oli Otya!'
When you say it out loud, it almost sounds like you're saying 'Hello to ya!' in English. I asked everyone to tell me more about Mayuge. They responded that it was an amazing place to grow many things. The rich, verdant region - bordering Lake Victoria - is also well known for coffee, cotton and maize... just to name a few.
During our conversation, I had unwittingly become surrounded by an entire crowd of children who, like children in many countries I've traveled to, seemed enamored with my camera. They loved seeing themselves on the digital screen. They simply could not get enough. Picture after picture was taken and the response was the same delighted squeal every time!
I looked out in the distance as a gathering African thunderstorm began forming along the horizon. There really may not be anything in the world as calming as rains in tropical Africa. The wind picked up and the smell of the rain got more poignant. After talking with the men a bit more about their families, jobs and lives in Mayuge, I asked them a final question:
'Have you ever had chocolate from your farm?'
'No,' they responded, 'never.' They said they've only had the cheaper chocolate found in the local stores.
'Well then,' I said, 'next time I see you, I will greet you with Oli Otya and we can share some more conversation with the chocolate that I will make with these beans.'"
Would you like to join us for more of the Hello Cocoa Adventure? Join us next week on Mother's Day (May 10th) for our Oli Otya Release Event!
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