— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Over the years I have had the good fortune of “collecting” all kinds of wonderful friends from around the world. Friendships are precious and should be treated like valuable gem stones. One thing I discovered is that the quickest way to find new friends is to open a chocolate company. I can’t tell you how many great people I’ve “met” through the internet on the Choclatique website.
The people who I am most proud to call my friends are those men and women serving in the military especially those serving so far away from home. I have “pen pals” in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is still hard for me to fathom that so many women are serving in these difficult, high risk areas.
As we approach Valentine’s Day some of the letters we receive from our soldiers and sailors are enough to break your heart. One that just arrived from Afghanistan is from a member of one of our Special Forces units. These are people who do the most heroic and dangerous jobs in the world and put their lives on the line every day so we can continue to enjoy our lives safely here in the States.
I wanted to share one of the letters I received last week that brought tears to my eyes.
It was a rough Christmas for my family and me. My fiancé has cancer and I got back from deployment in the beginning of December knowing I would be back in Afghanistan in January. While I was here in 2009 I discovered Choclatique. I thought it would be a gift worthy of giving to my darling gal. What I really love is being able pick unusual; personal treats for her while I am away. She was going through a real rough time. Right after she got the box of Choclatique, she raved about it for days. I knew she loved it so every month or so I sent another box. I told her I wanted to share a box with her when I got back home. Needless to say she was right! They are amazing!
We knew she had to go for her surgery the day I left to go back Afghanistan. We ordered some chocolate over the Christmas holiday so that we could steal a few special moments together.
It is so hard knowing that the woman you love may not be there the next time you come home, and that you have to leave on the day when she needs you the most. A good bottle of wine and Choclatique’s Napa Valley Wine Chocolates made all the worries go away for the time we shared them together. We both feel that no matter where we are on this earth, there are a few things we can taste and feel that will bring back all of the precious memories when we are together. That is how we have grown to cope. It is truly the little things in life which are the most important. It is within these memories where you find true happiness thousands of miles away from home.
She had a successful surgery and is in recovery, and it is my job to keep her spirits high while she recovers.
Afghanistan…It is not all that bad. We just got rid of our cots and have some makeshift beds. The odd thing is the springs in the beds are sideways so instead of getting an up and down motion when you sit on them you get thrown off when you roll over in the middle of the night. The food is standard, but it seems a lot of of it is fried. I miss California’s fresh fruit and avocados.
The country itself is very dusty, rocky, and high in elevation. We are about to enter our 120 days of spring-summer winds. They blow every day like a bad northeastern storm. We are not looking forward to that! Most of the camp has air conditioning and heat, so even when it does snow or is 120 degrees we manage to keep comfortable. One thing for sure is that no matter what happens, because of the men I serve with over here, I always feel safe. Good training back in the States and the quality of men that I serve with, helps me I know we will all come back safe.
The locals are friendly and it is nice to see the children wave at us as we pass by. It brings a smile to my face. l feel like we’re making a difference here and in some strange way because it reminds me of my home—friendly kids and neighbors waving as I drive to my house. It is still the most dangerous on earth and we have to make sure we are not getting complacent.
Our base is small, but our unit provides all of our necessary stuff…not many extras Every now and then we travel to one of the other larger bases which have an actual exchange, the Burger King, Pizza Huts and some American consumer goods. But I feel we are better off without them, as our base is the perfect meld between sleeping in the dirt, eating boxed ready-to-eat meals without too many distractions.
I really love my job, but the most important thing is to cling on to 3 or 4 memories which you will die for to get back to the States safe and sound. My fiancé is my reason to get back to the states, as we had her trial with cancer. So I have to do my part now and make it safely back to her. Chocolates are one of the 4 memories which we have that brings us back to what we know is waiting for us. Ed, I really miss California. It is heaven on earth. I miss my fiancé and miss walking the beaches and the Santa Monica Pier.
My idea was to create something special for Valentine’s Day for my team. Christmas was good for them, but after a few deployments I feel every month or two you have to grab a holiday and try to make it special. It keeps your mind off the things you miss the most, even if it just for a few moments.
That really makes me happy that you can ship over here! I will place my order right away. Thank you again for listening and please know that we really appreciate the amazing chocolates that you create!
Gunnery Sergeant (name withheld)
If you have a loved one serving in the military, please remember them for Valentine’s Day with LOVE and Easter with CHICKS, Mother’s Day with SPRING, Father’s Day CARAMELS, NUTS & NOUGATS. Choclatique will automatically add extra goodies to your shipment at our expense to show our appreciation for the sacrifice and service for our fighting men and women. Call us to make special shipping arrangements to ship as early as possible to US Military APO Addresses.
May God bless them all and bring them back to us safe, sound and soon.