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Chocolate bonds French woman with Sanibel residents

By Staff | Jun 25, 2009

Chocolate has long been revered for its ability to deliver pleasure and bring people closer together.

The sensuous treat seems to have no global boundaries. In fact chocolate has helped build a sort of bridge between one of France’s citizens and group of Sanibel residents.

A warm friendship has been melting since 2005 when residents Wes and Myra Roberts met Parisian Karima Arhab at her family-owned, chocolate shop in Paris. At the time the Roberts’ were living nearby the shop in an apartment on Rue Ponce Let. It was during their stay that they came upon Jeff De Bruges. The upscale shop features crafted gourmet chocolates in rich textures and flavors.

The shop became a favorite for the Roberts’ – and so did the bubbly Arhab.

During their stay Myra invited Arhab, 27, to come see America.

A while after the Roberts left they received a postcard from France. On the card Arhab wrote “Do you Remember me”.

Soon after the Roberts’ became to host to a petite Parisian with a suitcase filled with – you guessed it chocolate.

It was long until fellow friends and neighbors met and became friends with the young French woman. In fact, over the past several years, a sort of exchange program began to happen between Arhab and several Sanibel residents. Some like Irene and Leon Skolnick and Tom and Barbara Cooley began to take trips to Paris and visit with Arhab.

Arhab started coming to Sanibel in 2006.

It wasn’t long before the Roberts’ friends and neighbors began socializing with Arhab and of course indulging in her chocolates.

During the visits Arhab and the Sanibel residents sample each others food and ways of life. The results have been quite palatable.

Last Sunday, residents Mark and Terry Corke, Charlie and Molly Sobczak and their families nibbled on crepes filled with warm chocolate sauce and fresh fruit.

And the Parisian is just as excited to learn local ways and traditions. She said loves to watch Myra Roberts paint in her studio and to go biking and to the beach.

During this three-week trip she is hoping to hone her English-speaking skills so she can become a French diplomat.

“It is important to be here to enhance her ability,” Myra Roberts said.

Arhab has been asked to speak at the island’s French Club, said member Irene Skolnick.

“She’s very refreshing to speak to,” Skolnick said.

Skolnick likened Arhab’s personal visits to sort of goodwill exchange program.

“Any foreign contact that anyone from Sanibel has is great,” she said.”It’s wonderful for Karima, it’s great for us.”