Oh Switzerland. You are so expensive! After Lake Como we travelled to Montreux, Switzerland. The plan was to stay here for two nights (I think – everything is a little blurry now that I am back at work) but, in short, we did not receive the keys to our place and booked a hotel room last minute. Here, in the beautiful and high dollar city, we ate $20 McDonald happy meals, found a cute little local pub to have a 10pm supper, and I hopped the train to Olten on voyage to visit Megs. Meghan is living in Switzerland with her man who is there playing hockey, and she also recently finished her master’s degree there. In all seriousness Megs, I have never shared such deep secrets with anyone else. You are a beautiful soul full of light and determination. I will forever cherish that quick but concentrated visit. Megs showed me around her little town and we also attended Justin’s hockey game. One night in Olten and back on the train – watching the blur of vineyards and water and the daily lives of the Swiss. I found the change in language amusing as I travelled from South to North of the country. It was almost like I changed countries completely. North was German, South was French. Even the announcements on the train switched languages at some point.
Next up: Divonne-les-Bains, France, for New Years. Since we never did get ahold of the place we had booked in Montreux, it was decided to go on to our next destination a day or two early. Divonne-les-Bains was a cute little French town right on the border of Switzerland. There were many trails and little shops here. I was sad a little because I was sick most of the time we were here, and never got the chance to go out running (life goes on). A few of us went to Geneva, Switzerland for a day. Geneva is absolutely gorgeous – the buildings, the LITERALLY crystal clear lake, the United Nations, and the botanical gardens. If you didn’t guess already, the botanical gardens were my highlight. Other memorable things from Divonne-les-Bains: Making eyeball soup (seafood pasta that really turned into some concoction… with shrimp eyeballs), riverbank walk with the fam, and watching the culturally diverse New Years special on TV which happened to be followed by a special on French erotic dancers.
We were in Divonne-les-Bains for three nights before moving on to Paris. And by moving on to Paris I really mean getting lost in traffic circles and having a two hour detour before actually finding the right path. None the less we made it (almost running out of gas at one point), only to have another mishap with keys and places to stay. We stayed in the hotel across the street (which was actually really small, but really nice and convenient) for the first night and then moved into our apartment which was much bigger, updated, with a side of eau de sewer.
Paris definitely exceeded my expectations (they weren’t too high to begin with). Paris has never been on my “must go to” list. Mom felt the same way but we both agreed Paris was more than we imagined. Just the beauty of the place was enough to catch one’s breath. We visited the Eiffel tower where Mom and Dad almost bought very questionable wine off a very questionable man (thankfully they listened to their daughters’ pleas to stop being tourists), the Louvre where we saw lots of little penis’ and the underwhelming Mona Lisa, and the eerie and unsettling catacombs where we were reminded that yes, we too will die one day. Other highlights: Getting caught in a subway door, riding the giant ferris wheel, walking up and down a cobble street forever in Sacre Coeur looking for a specific restaurant, and my father searching through french cookbooks with me for half an hour even though he was not understanding anything but pictures.
This trip put a lot into perspective for me but also scrambled me to mush at times. Not because I was reminded of a developed world compared to the one I am currently residing in, but because of reasons I actually can’t explain. There were days I simply didn’t care to exist or I lost sight of purpose to exist. Not because of my situation, or the people I was with, or anything that had to do with the lovely trip we were embarked on. The worse day was in Geneva. It was a wonderful day, one of my favourite days from the trip, and definitely not the trigger or reason for my state of mind. Which really scares me. I’ve never felt that way before, to that extreme, and it felt so far from my control. As much as I feel the need to follow this contract through, if a day like Geneva happens again, I will be on a plane the next day. I promise.
I returned to Yaounde with a positive mind set and outlook (this included whispering ridiculously cheesy motivational quotes to myself on the plane). I was so ready to take this all head on… until I opened the door to my apartment and back into the reality of it all. It’s been a rough start to the semester, but I am thankful to have friends back to distract me. Hopefully it will get easier a few weeks in.
All my heart,