Finding Family Again
Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
141Trip End Jul 21, 2010
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Where I stayed
I spend an hour or so copying music, until I realise I don’t have the right power adapter for Switzerland. The crazy hexagonal shape in the wall stares back menacingly, almost laughing at the concept of me without power. Perhaps I should be sleeping more.
Movement upstairs is Amy sorting the garbage. The small town in which the family resides has a local tip within driving distance. Everything is sorted before hand, separated from the regular garbage. The rubbish isn’t actually collected here; instead people bring it to a weighing station where they pay for the plastic bags to be taken off their hands
Coffee and a late breakfast are had outside as the family plans how to pick up their son and at the same time give me a lift to the station. With timetables it appears we will be using the same train – one to arrive, one to leave.
I talk at length with dad about the strategy game played by the UK and Switzerland
The drive to train station is strange. The time here was too short to really feel like I’ve been here, and I don’t want it to be like that, especially when it’s meeting people.
The upstairs of the train has a strange lounge shaped area, with unidirectional seating beginning halfway down. I sit with my back to the window and a small table in front of me, stacking up all my bits in the chairs beside. Staring out the window the houses out of the city all appear the same, the Caroline Springs area of Fribourg closer to the city centre than that of Melbourne. Two girls compare tan lines and sit in the sunshine coming through the right side of the carriage.
I ride side saddle in the strange lounge car, getting to Araau in the early afternoon
The train back to her house is a different system, something between a train and tram, traveling on and off the road to Graenichen, sometimes on sometimes off the road. Apparently this will be changed soon, as when the carriage is on the road the two lanes, one in either direction, quickly change to one, cutting out one direction and causing all manner of traffic issues.
I tell her bits of where I’ve been, much of it lying on the amazing personality of her brother along with the rest of my extended family. I tell her her younger brother is crazy. She already knows. Like many of my family she has been keeping tabs on me in my blog, luckily yet to discover my Fribourg mix up as I’m over a week behind with it. I’m told the details of her parents match perfectly, which just shows the impression they as well everyone else I’ve met along the way have left on me. I don’t want to forget any of it.
It’s a surprisingly short walk to her house, which sits next door to the local church – red clock face and bells and all. Sharing the house with a father and son downstairs, Liesbeth has the top floor, the balcony facing the church and full of plants and candles. Along the windowsill sit a number of snail shells in a row, the largest at one end wit a ladybug chocolate crawling out. No Stress is on a small card in front of it, and I soon learn this is a perfect line for the house. There is no stress, there is no rush. Everything will be fine.
Lunch is out in the garden – wicked home made screens shading our backs and tea on a lovely table between us. There is a small collection of bits and pieces under the cover of the woodshed. The father and son pair from downstairs moved to Switzerland from Croatia a few years ago. The father has a similar habit to many fathers, including my own. Every opportunity to look through a dumpster, or on special occasions where people get rid of considered 'junk’ from their homes like bicycle frames and refrigerators is taken. Sometimes they will happen upon items they believe they can and will find a use for, more often than not with mixed results. The large foldout table and metal frames for the screens are two examples of the former, with other parts hidden from view.
I ask about her amazing house. It has a real character. Situated next to a church, we’re never unsure what the time is. At first conversation stops every fifteen minutes as the bells ring, but eventually this falls into the background.
When she first arrived in Graenichen Liesbeth took it upon herself to discover the area
The garden is underway. The cherry tree is apparently on the way out, not giving as much fruit as it has in past years. I can’t tell as I pick the red glorious pieces from the branches, swallowing seeds and not caring. From where we sit in the back yard we have the work behind us. Every time her parents visit they end up helping out, sometimes bringing plants from their own garden to add. Pepo the cat is of no help – he is currently eating the most recently planted seedlings, his odd directional eyes proving no hindrance as he sinks his teeth into the leaves. Something else will need to be planted there
With black hair, purple glasses and odd shoes Angie arrives. She speaks little English, but understands quite a lot. You can see straight away the effect she and Liesbeth have on each other, that their time living together was amazing.
From the car Angie brings traditional Swiss music, a mix CD that in all honesty I’m glad to hear the end of. Liesbeth replaces it with an a Capella group by the name of the Glue, who are absolutely mind-blowing. Made up of five members they create amazing harmonies, one taking up the responsibility of the beat boxer as the other combine. They CD includes a cover of Ring of Fire. I need to get this CD.
As the CD plays we put the pizzas together, Liesbeth having put the finishing touches to dessert earlier this afternoon
We move the eating bits outside, Liesbeth and her red hair collecting hat and sunglasses on the way.
It hits an odd hour when all at once the bells start ringing next door. They do go off around 7:30 at night, one long mess of ringing to call the shepherds off the hills and to the dinner table. This however, is not the time for the shepherds to return, they’d already be onto dessert by now. In the car behind us sit Mr. and Mrs. Smeeky, the latter yet to be completed. Angie wanted to always have a passenger when she drove, so made one from fabric and stuffing. Sitting at the same height Mr. Smeeky rides shotgun, complete with wicked patches to his front, a pierced ear and four fingers on each hand. Mrs. Smeeky is in the back, yet to have legs attached, Angie considering a dress. They look so happy together, it’s a shame that Mrs. is made for a friend so the two will no longer see each other.
The conversation is in parts and bursts, as Liesbeth and Angie will talk as I stumble around, waiting for Liesbeth to translate or for a word I may understand catching my ears. Amy did say Swiss German was different to German, which will most likely not help matters. But Angie does understand English, so slowly the pattern gets faster and we can all talk and understand at least a little
Liesbeth and Angie used to live together, first in an apartment not too far from here then Angie in the downstairs floor of the current house. The adventures they shared here sound magical - the simple things like spending the whole day in the garden wrapped up in blankets and listening to music. Angie is very much a part of the family, getting along well with Eline and Marien, shocking them at first with her comments on tongue with a friendly greeting but forever fitting in.
We’re outside in the sunshine as the glowing ball slowly makes its way behind the church. The pineapple crumble is absolutely wicked. I still get confused with pineapple and banana. In German pineapple is ananas, which is one letter short of bananas. Granted the missing letter is important, but it’s a little like when you see most of a word when you’re speed reading or glancing at street signs, and seeing a certain pattern of letter assume the rest. This has yet to get me into trouble, the risk of pineapple in my beer instead of banana now ever-present in my mind.
Angie heads home a little later, having to work early in the morning. Tomorrow there are a few things we can do, so we move inside to the computer to plan, deciding to make it a slightly early night with an early morning tomorrow. Through the window in the darkness the moon shines through big and yellow. Welcome to Switzerland.