At this point, there were two things I was certain of. First, I was a convert to the way of drinking chocolate. The stuff is heavenly, and I fell in love with it my first day in the country. It is, essentially, hot chocolate–except the chocolate is not powdered or from a Hershey’s squeeze bottle. Instead, it is melted chocolate, generously ladled in to mix with milk. Insomnia’s Coffee was my default place to find drinking chocolate, until Maggie–a woman I met through Jo’s church, also a US ex pat–insisted we go out to get chocolate. Thus, she introduced me to O’Conaill’s Chocolate Shop, a wonderful little two story location hidden down one of Cork’s many alleys.
O’Conaill’s has a large variety of chocolates, starting with the most basic (white, milk or dark chocolate) and then progressing even more to combine with a huge variety of flavors going from the simplest (vanilla) to the exotic (cayenne), with lots of flavors in between (like raspberry, which is absolutely amazing). The chocolate comes with small little cups of a variety of chocolate chips, which are often placed on a spoon with some chocolate, for a little extra kick. Overall, it’s one of the best places I’ve ever gone, and definitely one to become a new rainy favorite.
Maggie and I sat, talked, and sipped our chocolates. She told me of her and her husband’s roundabout journey to Ireland, where he was currently finishing his doctorate, and where she was from in the states, while I told her about my hopes for the upcoming semester, and my eventual hope to perhaps live there one day. After dealing with the frustrations of a new flatmate, Cait’s sickness (she had fallen ill on our return), and the troubles encountered in Galway, it was relaxing and reassuring to sit and talk with someone else about it all.
It was also at that moment that I began to realize how nice it is to be able to have someone who truly listens and wants to talk with you about topics that aren’t always “easy” to discuss. Maggie was one of those people, calm, encouraging, and–best of all–interesting. She has traveled widely and read widely, which means that, after we finished drinking our chocolate, not only did she show me several amazing book stores, but she also understood my inner Californian and showed me where her favorite backstreet Asian shops were (which are the only places to get things like real peppers in Ireland, apparently). My literary thirst and thirst for spices now satisfied, we parted ways. We had spent nearly four hours enjoying chocolate, stories, and west-coast flavors.