This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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A chocolate story

chocolatemuseum-3The Aztecs would turn over in their graves if they knew that their precious, spiced, bitter, sacred “Drink of Gods” is today mixed with sugar, milk, and vanilla; and sold in any grocery store and gas station.
chocolatemuseum-4As I looked at various ancient tools for cleaning, fermenting, and preparing cocoa pods and beans, I could not help but wonder how the aztecs first got to performing the laborious process of picking, cleaning, fermenting two times, drying, and roasting the cocoa beans? Why did they not just satisfy themselves with the sweet pulp of the pod, spitting out the beans? Or perhaps somebody spit out the beans and left them to ferment and then dry and then his or her children ate them by mistake and found them delicious? Or perhaps their god appeared to a priest in a dream and told him how to make cacahuatl?chocolatemuseum-1And who first spilled sugar and milk into a drink that was served prepared in water; hot, spicy, and bitter? How did the drink of warriors, priests, and men requiring strength become the consoler of lonely women sitting by their televisions?

Perhaps the chocolate man in the Chocolate Story museum in Bruges knows the delicious history of this delicacy. Because why otherwise would he try to eat up himself?chocolatemuseum-2(Bruges, Belgium; December 2016)

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In Bruges

bruges-115 years ago I spent two feverish, hazy days in Bruges. Maybe we did a canal ride. Maybe we had some Flemish cakes. Possibly did we try ask around for a jazz bar but only ran into tourists, not locals, at night.
bruges-2My worst ever memory of sleeping in a mixed dorm was during those 2 dizzy days. It involved a dozen partygoers and a lot of booze (not for us), and a terribly smelly room in the morning.bruges-4But this time Bruges was crisp, cold, and sunny. Like a picture postcard of gingerbread houses in a row, with a few canals in between. And this time I do remember the (freaking cold) canal ride.bruges-5(Bruges, Belgium; December 2016)


Manneken Pis’s sister

brussels-3Turns out Manneken Pis has a wardrobe, and a sister. Jeanneke Pis, with her yogic flexibility, looks like she is pleasantly meditating on the way of the world. You can find her peeing away in the end of a little dead-end street, just off the Grand Place.

Her brother’s fancy dresses can be seen in the City Museum. All naturally supporting the physiological function he has to endure 24/7. brussels-1(Brussels, Belgium; December 2016)


Bleak light in Brussels

brussels-7It was the days between Christmas and New Year. When everybody wraps up warmly and goes out to town to look for friends, items on sale, or mulled wine. When the bleak weather is easily rescued by good company as work is not on everybody’s mind.
brussels-5When the christmas tree was still relatively much alive while most around it was winter dead in the dead of winter.

But even bleak Brussels felt warm because of holiday cheer. That, and a few hot waffles and a ride on the ferris, Belgium; December 2016)