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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

“Christmas joy in a cup of hot chocolate”

I would like to share with you a particular unforgettable moment from my first trip to Peru in the hope that it may inspire your heart in time for this coming Christmas.

19th December 2004

Equipped with over forty rolls of film I was ready to capture my 18 day journey from Lima to Cusco in as much detail as possible.

23rd December 2004

Before leaving Arequipa for Yonque where we would spent Christmas, our leader Jonathan shared with us a beautiful idea which was embraced by all without a moment of hesitation.


Rather than having a traditional Kris Kringle gift exchange he suggested we share a cup of hot chocolate with all the children living within this small community.
I hope you can imagine our excitement at the possibility of participating in such a heart (and body) warming experience.

So now it was all on Jonathan's shoulders ... including a large amount of chocolate blocks and spices that needed to be pre-purchased in Arequipa.

Entrusting in our leader's charm, we were very optimistic that our hotel in Yonque would not let us down.

24th December 2004


Shortly after our arrival in Yonque, Jonathan set out on the
“hot chocolate” mission.

Supported by the invisible army of our positive thoughts while wearing an armour of chocolate blocks studded with spices he was well assured of his victorious return, and so it was.

Yes! We are going to make the best cup of hot chocolate in the world.” ... were his words.
We were all thrilled to hear that our hotel embraced Jonathan's idea as much as we did and were ready to pull out their biggest pots for this special occasion.

Since the number of small children living in this community was close to two hundred, we were definitely in need of those big pots to accommodate nearly 100 litres of fresh milk to be sourced from the local farmers.

The town's office was also very helpful by offering to announce our event through their megaphone. I would have loved to see the reaction of local people and especially children on hearing something along these lines ...

All children up to the age of ... please come to the “Collahua“ hotel at so so time with your mug to receive some free hot chocolate.”

The Christmas spirit was definitely felt or rather heard in the air.

25th December 2004


We were on our way back from an early morning trip to Colca Canyon to watch condors when my camera gave up. The shutter jammed and that was it.

No, it can't be it! Not now!” ... I screamed silently with a sadness in my heart,
 while some of my colleagues perceived this as blessing.

A blessing ...?!”

                                                         . . . . . . . . . . .


The time to share the joy of Christmas had finally arrived as the children started to gather at the front of our hotel and the spicy smell of hot chocolate could no longer be ignored.

The children kept on arriving from all directions and before too long their number was bigger than expected.


I was pretty much heartbroken upon seeing so many beautiful faces and being unable to capture them on film.
Their eyes, their smiles ...

When the first two pots were brought outside, a separate queue of boys and the other of girls had already formed and waiting patiently to be served.

I have to say that the girls behaved much better than the boys who used a touch of elbow to get ahead or tried to sneak back to the line for a second cup.

With every mug filled, the joy of giving was amplified by the joy of receiving and as the time went on the intensity of excitement soared higher and higher into the sky just like a condor.

By now, I could hardly wait for my turn to take over the “ladle” and when it finally came ...

... seeing those little hands reaching out towards me with an empty cup and the eyes full of gratitude moved me so much that I could barely hold back my tears.


Among them was this one little boy about 3 years of age
with a very small cup. Trying to fill his mug as close to
the brim as possible, my generosity made it slightly too full
and I was a bit concerned about his ability to carry it.

I will never forget seeing him walk away so very slowly
with his eyes fully focused on the cup as he wasn't prepare
to loose a single drop of this precious treat.


With plenty left for top ups a temptation to try our own brew was hard to resist and though we jumped at the unexpected opportunity, we did not jump a queue.

So there I was ... cup in hand, waiting patiently in line to the amusement of the little ones.

Who would have thought that such a little thing like a cup of hot chocolate could create so much joy for all of us.

                                                        . . . . . . . . . . .

      ... and a blessing it was!


Rather than being preoccupied with photo taking, I was able to immerse myself in this joyous experience on a much deeper level while preserving it on my heart's memory card.

As the download of this story from my heart
to yours has come to an end, may its essence fuel the joys of the upcoming festive season and beyond.

Photos of children taken by Sue and Nick with his wife.
Illustration of a little boy created by Jane Corrigan.