Rococo’s Chairman, James Booth, is in Grenada for a month on secondment with the Grenada Chocolate Company. James is also an acupuncturist, and it seems that in between all of the meetings his skills in that area are proving just as handy as his business knowledge.
Early morning should have seen me put my acupuncture hat on to treat a friend of Annie’s who is paralysed on one side following a car accident. She has been diagnosed with kidney stones and I hope to be able to help with that pain, but she has had a bad night and just doesn’t have the energy for the treatment. Life on Grenada has some hard realities.
Back up the drive then to join the monthly Rococo Executive meeting online. It’s a sunny late winter’s afternoon in London that I Skype into, and miraculously the connection doesn’t drop in 3 hours as we digest Rococo’s December and half-year figures. Our reporting and financial systems are getting better every year, and I hope to bring some of that discipline to the GCC as the numbers really do inform everything that a business does.
After an Oil Down lite for lunch I drive down to Belmont Estate to meet Shadel, lawyer and owner of the ‘home farm’ supplying cocoa to the GCC. Belmont houses the GCC warehouse and the Bonbon shop and does nearly all the fermenting and drying of the co-operative’s organic cocoa, so is central to the GCC’s business. It offers a great ‘agri-tourism’ experience with a walk round the Grococo farm and a close-up view of the cocoa processing followed by the gift shop, Bonbon shop and the excellent Belmont restaurant, which can cater for large cruise ship groups. We have a hugely interesting discussion which gives me a good idea of the state of the cocoa industry in Grenada.
The day isn’t quite finished though as I have another acupuncture consultation with the delightful mother of one of the Belmont employees. On top of 7 children, diabetes and 2 strokes, at 51 she has now been diagnosed with uterine cancer. Not much is offered here in the way of palliative care and a trip to the US is out of the question, but I hope to be able to give her a bit of a boost to help cope with a tough daily life.
I make a trip to St Georges today with Edmond to meet Chris Long, Mott’s erstwhile business partner in the Chocolate Rush project. This aims to bring chocolate to neighbouring islands on the GCC catamaran, and we discuss distribution and possible pricing at the Phare Bleu, a restaurant overlooking James Bond-esque private island of Calvigny. It’s another hard negotiation in rough surroundings.
Friday is delivery day to St Georges, and while we are busy Abdulla (‘Dulla’ to everyone at the GCC) crawls round the traffic. We had intended to visit other shops in the area but time has marched on and by 4pm they are shutting, so it’s back into the van with Dulla for the journey home, not so happy in the knowledge that we will have to come back on Monday. This has to be one of the most tiring 20 mile, (90 minute) journeys in the world with only a brief respite from the heat as we go over the 600m centre of the island, the Grand Etang, a lake created by volcanic activity 25,000 years or so ago.
When we get back the idea was to discuss the plan for completing stringent organic documentation ahead of the inspector’s visit in April, but the noise in the factory (the refining machine, apart from the acid fumes of the chocolate, produces an all-pervading industrial throbbing whirr), so we retire to Petite Anse’s peaceful surroundings along the coast…
Catch up on earlier instalments of James’ diary here: