Letter to Emily

3 Mar

Emily in Semuc Champey, Guatemala, July 2009

[Emily “tagged” me after being tagged herself. You can read her blog Grounding my Roots and see the rules of the game below. Since she sent me 11 questions, I thought I’d address my responses directly to her, my blog buddy and Guatemalan partner in chocolate crime]

Vanuatu, 3 March 2012

Dear Emily:
I hope this posts finds you well. I was riveted to your latest blog entry and feel honoured that you chose to tag little old moi. As expected, it has taken me a while to rack my brain for answers to such difficult questions.

1-What is your favourite childhood memory?
You saw the photo of my village: I grew up in the middle of nowhere, a valley in the Swiss rolling hills of the Jura Mountains. My home is just behind the trees in the foreground, with one house between us and the fields.

I had a great time with the only neighbour who was almost our age – 5 years older than me. He dug tunnels in the snow, lent us his skateboards so we could risk our skin rolling down the steep road, showed us his plane models and the map with pins on all cities his older brother was visiting on his world tour. The best part was actually sitting in his kitchen with his mom defrosting store-bought bread in the oven and serving it to us so steamy that the butter was melting. Yummy! In my home, we made the bread ourselves, and of course all I wanted was to get the white bread with a lovely crust from la Migros.

“What a surprise!” you say, “Janique’s favourite childhood memory is about food!”

Fine. Let me talk about something that you may not know about me: my dark side. I want to believe, as Rousseau wrote, that I was born good. My sister’s birth is what corrupted my beautiful innocence. You met her, what do you think? I have many memories of me torturing her – usually good; only one very bad memory, when the torture happened BY ACCIDENT and I burnt her feet .

I wasn’t even discreet about it either: I own photos (hopefully all of them) where you can see my angelic face smiling and hers grimacing… Look more closely and, sure enough, I am crushing her fingers. On one of them, she’s a toddler and I am walking behind her with a glint in my eye that tells you that my dark side is in overdrive. My favourite torture was tying her winter tights together, at the feet, you know? She couldn’t walk and would have to whine until my older sister or my mother could help her. Good times.

2-If there is one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be and why?
Only one?! Ok, could you remove my dark side with all the dark thoughts and actions? That would be nice so that I wouldn’t feel guilty afterwards. These days, I have been crushing ants, cockroaches, spiders and their gangs around my kitchen and bathroom. I feel bad killing Mother Nature’s creatures. I would like to be nice, understanding and generous without any worry in the world…

Maybe you could just remove the nagging guilty conscience? That would make Moi such a more interesting person.

3-What is your favourite pastime, besides blogging of course?
Reading your blog of course! Easy question.

I can see your face grimacing. Ok, reading in general. Fiction, non fiction. Silly, serious. My mind likes to travel even when my wallet can’t afford it.

I probably surprised you with that answer, but you only need one hand to hold the book, leaving the other hand free to hunt for sustenance.

4-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Aaah, the infamous question. My friends in high school were sick and tired of me wondering about: Where will we be in 10 years? What am I going to do with my life? Typical teenage angst.

In 2004, one of them actually asked me: So are you where you thought you’d be? Not in a million years. Since then, I have been much better at relaxing, and not planning or worrying… too far in advance.

So to answer your questions, I have no idea! I just hope I am happy and healthy, travelling without worrying about money. It’d be nice to have a travel companion or someone waiting for me somewhere, but people come and go, I can only count on myself.

5-Do you like where you currently live? Why or why not?
That’s a whole post in itself! Sometimes, I get so frustrated with this place – rapists getting extenuating circumstances (I am tough on crime!), widespread corruption, the state of the roads, etc. – but I used to be critical of DC and the US when I called it home, and Switzerland doesn’t fare better under the magnifying glass.

Vanuatu is a beautiful place and I wouldn’t want it to lose its identity as it is trying to meet whatever standards make a country “developed”. The Ni-Vanuatu people are just too good at adapting to what they have and don’t over think what they don’t have. They live in the present. We can learn so much from them. They just need to defend their rights when they get overtly scammed by expats and their compatriots!

6-What is your biggest life goal?
Eat, drink and be merry.. while travelling.

7-What are 3 things you always carry with you?
Passport, Amex and chocolate.

Oh, you mean on a day-to-day basis? Well, I always make sure I have chocolate at home and at work so I don’t have to carry any around – it would melt anyway! The passport and AMEX stay at home – this is a cash world.

(1) Sunnies are critical because even on a cloudy day, I get blinded by the South Pacific light. I used to carry an umbrella, but decided that being wet wasn’t so bad, or I just wait until the tropical storm passes. Nothing is that urgent!

(2) I carry my phone everywhere, but barely use it to call or be called: it’s good as a watch, an alarm clock and a flashlight – very important when street lights are not maintained because the Municipal Council is broke and I have already talked about the roads (see #5)!

(3) I have been carrying my anti-itch cream (maximum strength) everywhere because mosquitoes love me. Sigh.

8-What is the one place you really want to visit?
ONE place? I won’t be very original: a chocolate factory in Switzerland. I have visited Cadbury’s in Dunedin (New Zealand) and, as interesting as it was, I don’t approve of mass production when it comes to something that should be made with love.

9-Do you think the world is going to end in 2012?
Very good question. Thank you for asking. I have done extensive research on this topic. I have travelled far and wide in all sorts of conditions to find the answer: Mexico, Guatemala [you may remember], Honduras, Peru. I have visited Mayan and Inca temples, talked with Aztecs and all seem to agree: the white man is crazy. He doesn’t understand the old cultures of the world. 2012 is the end of an era, and the beginning of another. Not the apocalypse. It’s very clear in Latin America’s indigenous population.

I hope for a better era, with fewer lectures about climate change and more talk about Mother Nature’s generosity. We live here on her terms and when the lease is up, the lease is up!

10-What is your most embarrassing experience you are willing to share with the world?
I do my most embarrassing work in public, so the world does share in quite often. The last one I can clearly and painfully remember took place in Sydney’s domestic terminal in March 2011. I was transferring from the international terminal to catch a flight to Melbourne. As usual, I was “randomly” chosen to be patted down and have them rub their little cloth over my belongings to check for drug and explosive residue. I never fret: my big forehead can easily fit all the letters INNOCENT.

However, when the nice lady in uniform opened the side pocket of my carry-on and out came a cockroach, I had a range of emotions, from embarrassment to fear that they would lock me up forever. I have seen the Australian TV shows on customs, it’s s-c-a-r-y!

The beast was crushed under her big boot. She said I should spray insecticide over my bags before packing, and let me go. What a relief. The embarrassment though is long-lasting, and I am paranoid now. You may understand better the war I wage against les petites bêtes at home (see #2).

11- What is your comfort food?

I hope you enjoyed my answers, dear Friend.
Un abrazo


For readers who are not Emily: If you like the TAG GAME, here are the rules:

1. You must post the rules. [DONE!]
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post [DONE!] and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged. [IMPOSSIBLE: I ONLY HAVE ONE BLOG BUDDY!]
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post. [SEE ABOVE]
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them! [SEE ABOVE]


2 Responses to “Letter to Emily”

  1. Emily He 15 J0000003Australia/Sydney 2011 at 6:14 am #

    Dear Janique,

    I’m so sorry it has taken this long to respond! My friend from the States is here so I haven’t had time to catch up on blog-reading!

    Thanks for answering all the questions so thoroughly, and OF COURSE almost every answer had to include chocolate. As for torture…well…I’m glad your dark side didn’t come out in Guatemala. We lived in quite small quarters.

    Oooh, I love your answer to the 2012 question. This is so wise: “2012 is the end of an era, and the beginning of another one.”

    Your embarrassing story reminds me of the time I had bed bugs in Brooklyn. My roommates for some reason always had bed bugs tucked away in their bookbags and coats, and would come crawling out at the most inappropriate times, like during class. I’m glad it didn’t happen to me because I don’t like creepy crawlers anywhere near me….bleh!

    Wait a minute….BROCCOLI IS YOUR COMFORT FOOD? I’m going to assume that was a joke. RIGHT? Right. Of course it is. Chocolate is your comfort food! You make me laugh.

    And finally, I enjoyed your answers very much, Janique. I’m so glad we’re in touch again 🙂


    • janiqueracine 15 J0000003Australia/Sydney 2011 at 9:05 am #

      Me too. I am glad we reconnected.

      Hihihi! Yes, broccoli is a very good vegetable, full of healthy stuff your body needs, but certainly lacking in the “comfort” area!

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