Everything has gone by so quickly the past few months, that I literally haven’t had a moment to pause and update. So here goes..
In mid Jan I took myself off to Huemoz, a tiny town in the Swiss Alps (pop 250, 2 hours from Geneva close to the French boarder). In Huemoz is L’Abri, the study centre I spent a month at, although in all honesty, the time felt like one night. You can study whatever you want there, provided it is related to philosophy or theology. I studied world views, which I found fascinating and want to learn more about. We lived in a giant wooden chalet, and would cross the road down the hill each day to reach the other wooden chalets of L’Abri, where we would meet with our tutors, or study or have lunch.
I was there with an amazing bunch of young people, mainly from Canada and the US, although I was roomed with the sweetest Brazillian girl, and there were a few Koreans, a French man, couple of Swiss, and 2 Aussies (who, randomly, was from near Tamworth, and we have many friends in common!!). All meals we ate together, except lunch where we were divided into 2 groups for “formal discussions”. The meals were amazing! (although mainly vegetarian, as the other Aussie pointed out, steak costs $125/kg in my part of the Alps). The day was divided into either study in Farel House (self-directed with their abundant resources), or working (ie cooking, cleaning, shoveling snow etc).
There are no TVs, or laptops allowed, so the evenings were filled with night walks through the snow, or playing the guitar, piano, reading, talking or heading to the bar in the ski village up the hill (Villars). Even walking in the pitch-black night of the Alps in deep, fresh snow was such a highlight for me!
We had some spectacular dumps of powder snow, deep enough that it came up to my knees, yet soft just like icing sugar. We had one and a half days off a week, and during this time we would hitch hike (the L’Abri way!!) to the train in Aigle, and head out somewhere on Lake Geneva. Wow.. I am SO in love with Switzerland… On my days off I spent some time in Vevey and Montreux, snow-shoeing and hitching to Villars to get my weekly supplies of Swiss “study” chocolate 🙂
Hitching was SO MUCH FUN! Except the time I got forced into a 2-seater black BMW convertible with a “power” button, and the 17-year-old male driver who didn’t speak English had no issue with speed hurling up the icing roads. Needless to say, I was prepared to make a hasty exit if required, but thankfully, it didn’t come to that! The Swiss are such lovely people. I just wish I spoke French!
It was incredibly difficult to leave as I made so many wonderful friends, and I felt so utterly content. But after a month, I took my final bus and train trip back along Lake Geneva, and spent a couple of days in Geneva, visiting the Red Cross Museum, the United Nations and walking around the Lake. (Feeling rather impowered, as this was my first real traveling solo).
Oh, and I forgot to tell you the most exciting part of the adventure… we were only allowed for 2 SHOWERS A WEEK! However, there was a black-market operating with some of the cash-strapped workers, and I managed to ‘buy’ one worker’s shower at the discounted rate of 4-Swiss Francs, so that she had one a week, and I had 3!! (Her Aussie roommate was then paying her to HAVE a shower, so either way, the dirty Canadian worker won!)
I went up to Manchester, Macclesfield and Buxton on my final weekend, before heading back to Australia, where I am now, for the next couple of months, working, hopefully! I head back over in May to travel some more, and maybe head back to L’Abri to experience the Alps in Summer.