11 years ago I received the following email from Charles:
"Guess what? I got my site assignment today. I am going to be in a small campo called Las Piezas. It is in the northern mountain range. I do not have electricity, but I do have running water. The community has 65 families and I am the first volunteer to be at the campo. I don´t have too much of an idea about my project assignment, but it has a lot to do with soil conservation and watershed management."
At the time, I remember he was excited about being near a beach, but we had no idea what his journey would lead to. By the end of his 2-year assignment, his primary project was creating 10 cacao fermenting boxes and helping small-scale cacao farmers receive USDA organic certification. He also built latrines, installed a community aqueduct and worked on watershed and reforestation projects in the Las Piezas area.
While I have always loved eating chocolate, I have watched my husband establish a sometimes all-consuming obsession about making chocolate. I joke with him that most of our friends have hobbies like skiing, or playing golf, but he is more interested in perfecting the taste of his 70% bar and hearing that perfect temper 'snap' than improving his short game.
It comes as no surprise to us that our daughter is becoming a chocolate snob. She is one of the only toddlers I know that prefers dark chocolate (70-80%) over milk chocolate. I think it is probably due to the amount of Kerchner Artisan Chocolate I consumed while pregnant, or maybe it is just an acquired taste, but either way, it is amusing to watch.
We recently introduced Olivia to La Red Cooperative. They were so welcoming as always and made us some delicious hot cocoa with cinnamon when we arrived.
We are excited to think of Kerchner Artisan Chocolate's future in the DR. La Red cooperative where we currently purchase our beans from has benefited from working with many past Peace Corps Volunteers (i.e. Kate Cavallin seen in picture above). Robin Blotnick, son of Joe Blotnick, former Peace Corps Volunteer, has produced an amazing movie of La Red Cooperative - Chocolate Country Trailer.