Season’s greetings

Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to mourn the loss of my 52-month old MacBook Pro, upon whose recent demise I shall blame my prolonged absence from the blogosphere.

But guys, the craziest thing happened.  The season changed, seemingly overnight, from summer to winter.  I suppose there were a few brief weeks of “fall,” when I could look super cool in my pleather jacket.  Then suddenly the rains came and soaked us for a fortnight, dropping the temperatures outside and, more noticeably, indoors.

Yes, this is the season of chocolate, I’ve decided.  For evolutionary reasons, once the damp cold seeps into my bones, I begin to crave cocoa in all its forms.  This has happened before, during my sojourn in the Chilean winter. Similar to Israel, the winter there is short but vicious, turning everything damp and gloomy.  The buildings, designed for a summery clime, lack insulation and central heating.

Speaking of which, did I ever tell you about the time I almost killed my host mother?  No?  Well, mi’ija, in Chile, estufas are the space heaters of choice.  These clunky heaters run on big natural gas canisters.  To light one, you turn on the gas and hold a match to the grate.

One day, I came down to eat an early lunch before heading to the university.  I turned on the estufa in the dining room.  Nothing happened when I tried to light it.  Late for work, I scarfed down my meal and headed out.  Once I arrived in the English pedagogy building, I realized my error.  A sick feeling sunk through me–I remember gazing helplessly at the dark paneled walls of the corridor as I foresaw my sad future, the headline scrolling across CNN–“American intern murders elderly Chilean host mother with gas poisoning/explosion.”  Would I be extradited?  Would Mount Holyoke disown me?

Desperately, I dialed Isabel’s number, and said something along the lines of, “ARE YOU ALIVE?  I left the gas on!  Please don’t light any matches or turn on any lights!”  Except in mangled, breathless Spanish.

She was alive, and told me the gas canister had been empty–therefore the lack of flame.  And that is how I nearly killed my Chilean host mother.

Anyways, chocolate.  In Chile, Isabel would buy me giant milk chocolate bars, and I also spent many of my own pesos on them.  I would carry around these embarrassingly huge bars in my purse, constantly nibbling.  It turns out that chocolate is a great accompaniment to anything, be it a cup of thick Nespresso, flank steak, or a lesson on Henrik Ibsen.  (Although macaroons suit the latter best.)

Let’s face it, I lack personal insulation, and my body wants me to pack on some blubber to get through the chilly months.  So I find myself bending over the oven on a Saturday night, the heater cranked to 30 degrees Celsius (I think the average high on Mercury), making the chocolatiest double chocolate zucchini bread ever (Betty Crocker does it again), or dreaming of a steaming mug of hot chocolate paired with a toasty s’more.  I should go have dinner…

My body’s scheme is working.  I think I have a tummy!  If I keep chowing down on the sweet stuff, maybe I’ll even be able to feel my fingers again.

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