Swiss chocolate and good people / Chocolate suizo y buena gente

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

DOES ANYONE REMEMBER WHAT A pen pal is? It involved using an actual pen and stationery. My sister had one in Japan (her name was Fumiko) with whom she corresponded at least once a week from the age of 16 until she died at the age of 29. Fumiko was a musician who married a research scientist. He accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin and they moved to the States. She and Dale were very excited to meet. However, less than a month later, Dale married and moved to England. They never met in person, but they were the best of friends.

Things are different now (does anyone even buy stationery anymore?), but I’ve connected with a variety of people through blogging and have developed wonderful friendships, although mostly distant.

Susan is not a blogger, but she is a blog reader. She read my comments on another blog and befriended me. I’ve mentioned before that we write constantly and video-chat every week. We feel as if we’ve known each other our entire lives (although she’s much older than I — by an entire 8 months) and neither of us can imagine life without this friendship.

Karen is someone else who doesn’t blog but found mine and decided she liked me based on what I had written. She began corresponding with me frequently, sharing photos and stories of her life and family in Switzerland. It’s been a pleasure. And now, she and her husband are nearby for a week on the Costa del Sol. Thursday, we had the pleasure of their company for a perfect lunch at Mesón Salvador. And Tuesday, we’ll meet them in Torremolinos for a visit to the botanical gardens and lunch after. A wonderful connection.

To top it off, Karen arrived with Swiss chocolates (see below) — Corsican orange sticks in dark chocolate and Australian ginger cubes, also in dark chocolate. She clearly knows the way to my heart. They are indescribably delicious. I had another ginger cube after lunch, retied the bow, and put my retainer in my mouth so I can’t have another for 3 hours (less than 1 hour to go). The retainer is very useful (in addition to keeping my teeth straight).

Karen also brought us a book about Switzerland, since I had told her I know next to nothing about the country. Apparently, the book is fascinating; I have no personal experience because SG grabbed it. Karen is a quilter and made six coasters for us. They’re reversible, with rich, unusual, festive fabrics on either side. They give us a reason to entertain again.

This morning, we met Sergio, formerly of Mesón Salvador, and Jesica, formerly my English student, for coffee at Ilunion. Thanks to the pandemic, we haven’t seen them for ages. We four spent 2 hours chatting in English and Spanish and San Geraldo and I were so happy we just about danced our way home.

It may not always be obvious from my writing, but we’re very particular about whom we spend time with. How fortunate we’ve been. And, if you can’t tell, I’ve been doing enormously better these last few days.

“Switzerland would be a mighty big place if it were ironed flat.”

Mark Twain


¿ALGUIEN RECUERDA QUÉ ES UN amigo por correspondencia? (En inglés, es un pen pal [amigo de bolígrafo]. Involucró el uso de un bolígrafo y papelería. Mi hermana tenía uno de Japón (se llama Fumiko) con quien mantuvo correspondencia al menos una vez por semana desde los 16 años hasta que murió a los 29 años. Fumiko era una música que se casó con un científico investigador. Ël aceptó un puesto en la Universidad de Wisconsin y se mudaron a los Estados Unidos. Ella y Dale estaban muy emocionados de conocerse. Sin embargo, menos de un mes después, Dale se casó y se mudó a Inglaterra. Nunca se conocieron en persona, pero eran las mejoras amigas.

Las cosas son diferentes ahora (¿alguien todavía compra papelería?), pero me he conectado con una variedad de personas a través de blogs y he desarrollado amistades maravillosas, aunque en su mayoría distantes.

Susan no es bloguera, pero es lectora de blogs. Leyó mis comentarios en otro blog y se hizo amiga mía. He mencionado antes que escribimos constantemente y chateamos por video todas las semanas. Sentimos como si nos conociéramos de toda la vida (aunque ella es mucho mayor que yo — por 8 meses completos) y ninguno de nosotros puede imaginar la vida sin esta amistad.

Karen es otra persona que no tiene un blog, pero encontró el mío y decidió que le gustaba en base a lo que había escrito. Comenzó a mantener correspondencia conmigo con frecuencia, compartiendo fotos e historias de su vida y su familia en Suiza. Ha sido un placer. Y ahora, ella y su marido están cerca durante una semana en la Costa del Sol. El jueves tuvimos el placer de su compañía para un almuerzo perfecto en Mesón Salvador. Y el martes nos encontraremos con ellos en Torremolinos para una visita al jardín botánico y comida después. Una conexión maravillosa.

Para colmo, llegaron con chocolates suizos (ver más abajo): palitos de naranja de Córcega en chocolate negro y cubos de jengibre australiano, también en chocolate negro. Karen claramente conoce el camino a mi corazón. Me como uno y vuelvo a atar el lazo con cuidado para no inhalar el resto. Son indescriptiblemente deliciosos. Tomé otro cubo de jengibre después del almuerzo, volví a atar la bolsa y me puse el retenedor en la boca para no poder tomar otro durante 3 horas (solo falta 1 hora). El retenedor es muy útil (además de mantener mis dientes rectos).

Karen también nos trajo un libro sobre Suiza, ya que le dije que no sé casi nada sobre el país. Aparentemente, el libro es fascinante; No tengo experiencia personal porque SG lo agarró. Karen es una quilter e hizo seis posavasos para nosotros. Son reversibles, con telas ricas, inusuales y festivas en ambos lados. Nos dan una razón para volver a entretener.

Esta mañana nos hemos encontrado con Sergio, ex de Mesón Salvador, y Jesica, ex alumna mía de inglés, para tomar un café en Ilunion. Gracias a la pandemia, hace mucho tiempo que no los vemos. Nos cuatro pasamos 2 horas charlando en inglés y español y San Geraldo y yo estábamos tan felices que casi bailamos de camino a casa.

Puede que no siempre sea obvio a partir de mis escritos, pero somos muy particulares acerca de con quién pasamos el tiempo. Qué afortunados hemos sido. Y, si no puedes decirlo, lo he estado haciendo enormemente mejor estos últimos días.

“Suiza sería un lugar muy grande si fuera planchado.”

Mark Twain
Side 1 / Lado 1
Side 2 / Lado 2
• I saw this orchid while I was out yesterday and I couldn’t help myself.
• Vi esta orquídea mientras estaba fuera ayer y no pude evitarlo.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

46 thoughts on “Swiss chocolate and good people / Chocolate suizo y buena gente”

  1. So much wonderful-ness in your post today!
    Yes, yes, I do remember pen pals… I had friends that I actually knew in person, but moved away from, and we wrote letters –sometimes LONG letters, in tiny handwriting… pre-teen and teen girl stuff , and, when I was younger, letters in big handwriting (usually with some exciting colored markers) that didn’t say much, but were, nonetheless, the highlight of any day that they arrived (and a hoot to find all of these many, many years later, among my mom and dad’s boxes of stuff from our childhood). I remember receiving lovely and/or cutesy-patootsy stationery for Christmas (often from my grandmother, as an incentive to write thank you notes).

    I think it’s marvelous that we’re making friends through connections from blogs. I often speak of you and the things that you share with us, to friends or family, or even to my students, and I feel a little funny saying, “I have a friend who lives in Spain” because I know they’ll think, “Oh, yeah, right… you’ve never met, though”… but, still, I look forward to your posts, and to our comments back and forth :).

    I love those beautiful, bright coasters!

    1. Judy C:
      I had a pen pal briefly when I was in 5th or 6th grade. He lived somewhere in England and I think we exchanged three letters. Not like Dale. It IS interesting how easily some of us become friends. I feel like you’re an old friend now and hope to meet you in person one day. Yes, you do have a friend who lives in Spain!

  2. Ooh! Plain chocolate gingers… My mouth is watering now.

    I never had a pen-pal when I was a kid, but yes indeed, the blogging “community” is a great substitute! Jx

    1. Jon:
      The gingers are addictive. My sister was always a letter writer. When I went away to school, she wrote me several times a week (mail only took a day to get to me then). Once she moved to England, she wrote me every week. These online friendships make it so much easier (and quicker) to get to know each other.

  3. Love the orchids! The coasters are too gorgeous to put anything on them. I never had anything interesting to talk to a pen pal about. I do remember pens and stationery, not to mention cursive writing. No one could read my handwriting. I could’ve been a doctor! I’m so glad your mood is picking up 🙂

    1. Deedles:
      Karen even talked the other day about how her mother-in-law never used any of the things she gave her because they were too nice to use.” I had great penmanship. The style has become a bit “eclectic” over the years. I understand penmanship isn’t even taught anymore. I’m so much better. Thanks for the support!

  4. Christmas in March! Lovely coasters indeed!
    Nice to see you are ‘tickadeeboo’ once again. Good work.

    1. Jim:
      Yes, can’t believe the difference in how I feel. And, you’re right, it was like Christmas in March.

    1. Chrissoup:
      Thanks! I didn’t appreciate how different even my writing had been sounding.

  5. What a happy and almost lighthearted post this was! I’m so glad that you’re feeling better. Those coasters are beautiful and the chocolate sounds divine! You are rich in friendship. ❤

    1. Jennifer:
      Feeling great and still not even all the way back. Thanks! The coasters make me smile just looking at them. And I have grown to appreciate the importance of true friendship. So fortunate.

  6. What an incredible orchid colour. I also like the painting in the background. I have been looking for these chocolates for some time. I cannot find them here in PEI. Though we do have 3 ladies who make hand made chocolates which are of high quality. Maybe I should ask them to make orange sticks in chocolate. As for PenPals, I suppose email is the new format for penpals. I write to friends in Ottawa 1000 km away this way. But it is a bit of a lost art with FB and Instagram being more instant. Happy to hear you are feeling better.

    1. Laurent:
      That “painting” is actually one of my photos. No Photoship, no special settings. Just taken through the heat waves of the chiringuito flames. The orange chocolates Karen brought are as good or better than the best I’ve had. I’ve never had ginger chocolates that compare. And, thanks for the moral support. I feel like a different person.

    1. Kathleen:
      I hadn’t appreciated how my writing had changed until I reread this post and realized I sounded happy. Doing really well.

  7. A post of treats and a treat of a post! Stunning visuals (as always). I can almost taste the chocolate covered orange and ginger. And I can absolutely feel the love.

    1. Wilma:
      I felt yesterday like I was wrapped in a hug all day. Oh, the ginger. I haven’t untied the ribbons yet today.

    1. Urspo:
      I had one with whom I exchanged maybe three letters. Dale considered Fumiko her dearest friend. I admired them for developing and maintaining that friendship.

  8. I’m happy to hear you’re feeling better; it kinda made my day.
    I, too, am particular about the folks I befriend. I am a firm believer that you do not have to like everyone, and everyone doesn’t have to like you. The only rub there is if YOU like someone and THEY don’t like you, or vice versa. That can be tricky. I have recently heard from two very good friends that i had kind of lost contact with and it’s been lovely catching up.
    Now, last query: why would we want to iron Switzerland?

    1. Bob:
      I used to think if someone wanted to be my friend, then I should be theirs. But I now appreciate there has to be some kind of true connection. We don’t have tons of friends, and the ones we have don’t fit into one standard type, but they’re all so special. Most important to us is the joy and the sincerity. As for the question about Switzerland: Haven’t you seen it? It refuses to lie flat.

  9. Such a nice, vibrant post today — love the orchids! I had pen pals in Australia, Hong Kong and West Germany when I was 11, but the letters fizzled out in a couple of years. Being half Swiss, I have much more staying power with chocolate, LOL! And Lindt is celebrating their 70th Anniversary this year….

    1. Tundra Bunny:
      Your penpals lasted longer than mine when I was the same age — mine was less than a month. Swiss chocolate, for me, lives up to the hype. But the chocolates Karen brought are the absolute best. I can’t believe the self-control I’ve displayed. I still have chocolates!

  10. I am also a quilter, but have never thought of making coasters. This will definitely be my next project. Four weeks from now, I’ll be in Barcelona : an 8-weeks trip to Spain (after being locked in Australia for more than 2 years). I hope to walk the Camino de Santiago, but if my knee gives out I will get on a train south. Who knows, I might come for dinner at your favourite restaurant.

    1. Margaret Butterworth:
      8 weeks in Spain. How wonderful! And, please, if you do come south I would love to enjoy a meal at Mesón Salvador with you! Glad you’re finally getting away and what a nice long holiday. I knew Karen was a quilter but I didn’t know she made these. They really are beautiful and a great idea.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      Aren’t they. Just looking at them makes me smile. I’ve switched out the one on my desk, which is a tile one that sticks to the moisture on the bottom of the glass and then drops off (it’s got chips everywhere).

  11. Another beautiful blogpost. Your writing is magical.
    Initially I came to this blog because of the Spanish then I found the personas behind it. Never did I know it would lead to a personal meeting. Life moves in mysterious ways.
    Has Gerry started the “ Did you know that…”?
    Whilst we were in Meson Salvador the T.V. crew came in to film then last night we saw it on FTV.
    Is your favorite chocolate still Lindt or have you moved up to designer chocolates?

    1. Karen:
      Thank you so much — and for visiting… and for all the gifts. I know Jerry started reading the first day and was enjoying it — and telling me about it! I don’t know how far he’s gotten however. I love Lindt chocolate, but I had had designer chocolate before and could appreciate the difference. However, the chocolate you brought is phenomenal. The orange is so good and the ginger is unlike anything I’ve ever had. If I COULD choose between Lindt and Alexandre, it would be Alexandre. Jose is doing a good job of promoting the restaurant lately. As I mentioned he was in the paper pictured with the mayor when she visited recently.

  12. Chocolate the way to many a man’s heart. I still occasionally write long rambling letters, always on the computer, no one – not even I – can read my handwriting. (Oh and I know the reasons why.) I sometimes send long emails, the tolerance for long emails seems to be short.

    1. David:
      I have a feast on my desk and I just took out my retainer! SG writes so small that even he can’t see his notes. We’ve both used a magnifying glass.

  13. It’s always great to meet bloggers (and blog readers) in real life. Nice coasters! Very colorful! And a beautiful orchid, too. I can see why you couldn’t help yourself.

    1. Kirk:
      My mother always had a couple of boxes of good stationery on hand even in 2016. And my sister and I always had our own stationery, too, but that was in the 60s. I wonder the average age of stationery users now.

  14. Me thinks that having a few more people close by to converse with etc just might be the answer to your “ups and downs”. I stay clear of a lot of peeps because they some times suck you dry. Way to exhausting being nice I guess!
    Love your orchid ~ I just because creating orchid pictures + others lately. Yours is a beauty!

    1. Ron:
      I wish it were that simple, but that’s not how clinical depression works. When I’m at my worst, socializing only makes things worse. I crawl deeper into a hole after even a pleasant visit. Yep, way too exhausting being nice.

  15. My first gay friend was younger pen pal that I wrote to regularly. By sheer coincidence, he came to college in my home town, we met in person, and became real life friends for several years, but we have since parted ways due to geography and life circumstances (no falling out.) I still miss him.

    Blogging has connected me with so many wonderful people, and I’ve made some good friends, both on line and off, because of it. You are one of the people I am enjoying getting to know through your blog.

    1. Sassybear:
      Thanks for the kind words. I feel the same. How wonderful that your pen pal turned out to be gay, too, and a longer-term personal friend. I wonder how many straight boys had pen pals.

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