Everyone has something that is a constant comfort item, and one of those for me is hot chocolate. I have had a mug or paper cup or travel bottle of it with me during some of the best and worst moments of my life.
When I got my first guide dog Valerie, we bet the instructor we all wouldn’t finish our routes by 11 am. I was the last one to go out of the four of us, and I finished at 10:29. Since she lost, she bought us a drink from star bucks. This was my first time there, and I loved the dark chocolate flavor, as opposed to the watery swiss miss I grew up drinking.
The next summer, I went to Guatemala. Kakao beans are a popular crop there, dating back to the time of the Mayans. As part of a museum tour, we got to watch them use a morter and pessel to grind the pods to cocoa, mix it with a little bit of sugar, and make them into round, flat cocoa bricks. That is my favorite kind of hot chocolate, a flavor I haven’t been able to duplicate since; it is rich, very dark, and not chemically processed. The closest I have come to finding a similar product is ah laska organic cocoa powder.
The next year, I went to starbucks on a cold, snowy February morning. I had just taken my last walk with Zorro. I bought the cocoa to have something to hold and drink so I wouldn’t sob in public as I signed the papers dissolving our partnership and returning him to the school.
Finally, last year, it was another freezing day. I was in Minneapolis. I started my trip at 8:30 walking to the bus, transferring to the lightrail, and getting off downtown. I walked a few blocks, went to the north side of Minneapolis, walked about a mile, spent 1.5 hours or more haplessly wandering around a park and river path before I found the bridge to cross over to northeast, and walked the rest of the 7 miles back to the south. By the time I finished, it was 3 pm; since the windchill made it feel like it was 0 degrees, I was freezing, even with my three layers, hat, scarf, and gloves. This was my final assignment for blind inc travel training, and the cup of chocolate I had when I got back warmed my hands and my insides.
I always have a can of godiva or ah laska chocolate mix wherever I live, and when I am miserable, want to celebrate, or need a constant in my routine, I have some.