Once again my journey has started off with interesting seat companions.
Even the ride in the aeroporter from Olympia to Seatac found me in the company of avid birders heading off for birding in the Florida evergrades; an IT person who also worked ’til 10 pm to finish work before his vacation, now making a leisurely multi-stop flight to LA to see his daughter and meet her new boyfriend – a possible son-in_law?; a businessman originally from India, who lives in Hong Kong, does business with Japan, now returning to Hong Kong after a two week visit with his wife and kids who live in Lacey. Very interesting listening to what about the Olympia area attracted him to settle his family here. And this all before even getting to the airport.
It was another cool, clear and gorgeous day in the Puget Sound area. So as we took off there were great views of the mountains and downtown Seattle before heading North over the Canadian Rockies. At this point I found myself sitting next to a youngish man of a complicated history: family originally from Italy, born in Romania, raised in Ontario, Canada, now living and working as a software engineer in Portland. Something about his practical, unflustered view of life reminded me a great deal of Peter from Slovakia, and our topics of conversations paralleled my discussions with Peter. For some reason I’ve been thinking recently about the discussion with Kai, Fritz, Johannes and Reinhardt over breakfast in San Bol. Reinhardt (german) made the comment that he thought German youth had a more realistic view of the thin and ambiguos nature of the line between good and evil. His children had been exchange students in England and had been shocked by the absolutely black and white, good vs evil presentation of world war two. The corollary was that because the english students identified themselves as the good guys they couldn’t imagine themselves as potentially perpetrating evil. His children felt that because they had had a more nuanced view of the war, they were more aware of how good people could be led to do evil things. For some reason I threw this out as the conversation opening with my seat mate, and with that my plan of sleeping to Geneva was railroaded. We talked about everything from wine and coffee to management strategies and walking, the wide range of our respective families, Croatia, the reasons for Buying Local and more. He is a former hiker now into long distance touring by bike – often in Europe. What was most unusual was that he knew the capital of Congo was Kinshasa, and something of the history of Congo’s Independence, Lumumba, Tshombe. Not something that happens that often. All in all a pleasant, relaxed and rewarding – even inspiring – conversation. At the Amsterdam airport we both commented that it had been an enjoyable flight and as we shook hands wishing each other well we exchanged names almost as an afterthought. His is Alex.
Arrived pretty tired in Geneva at 11:00 am and was met by Yoland who had been waiting, a bit worried, since 8:00. They had read my arrival time in Amsterdam as my arrival time in Geneva. We zipped to the town of Cluses, where Guylène left work to meet us for lunch. We walked to a lovely familial Restaurant – the 8th of Mai – tiny, but much frequented by Guylène. She is obviously well known and was welcomed by the staff of two, the chef and his always cheerful wife. The three of us were allowed to squeeze around a table for two, as otherwise it was completely full. It was wonderful being with the two of them again.
Guylène now is back at work. Yoland off to his real life. Alain is off playing bridge.
I’m at the apartment in Sallaches about to head out for a tour of the town/activity to keep me from falling asleep too soon.
It started to rain lightly as I stepped out the door. I didn’t let that or the thunder and occassional lightning flashes stop me. Climbed the hill behind the town up and up. Past the Chateau des Rubins to the mimiscule Chapelle de Levaud to a panorama d’orientation that identified all of the surrounding mountain peaks, including Mt. Blanc. Most were shrouded by clouds.
Along the way I met a woman in her garden picking strawberries. She said it has been such a hot and dry season so far this year that her strawberry crop is about a month early. Almost all of the houses I passed were fairly new and had small kitchen gardens. It was now about 6:30 pm, young fathers were arriving home from work and I saw several filling their water can from stone fountains on their property and then hand-watering their garden plots.
By the time I got back to Guylène’s, Alain was home and looking very good after his recent illness. He has long since gone to bed. Guylène is in the living room working on projects in preparation for her big birthday party this weekend. I figure it has now been 33 hrs since I last got 2 hrs of sleep and I am past running on empty.