Settling into Switzerland

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Author: Pete
Location:  Zug, Switzerland

So here we are.  Dry land, no salt water in sight!  We’ve replaced the Caribbean Sea with the Zugersee, white-capped waves for ice-capped peaks, and swim suits for silk suits.  Switzerland!  We’re still reeling from our good fortune of landing here.  It was a good deal of work and planning on our part, but I’m sure luck took a sizable role as well.  We’ll take any help we can get!

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Zug is cute, comfortable and easy.  There’s the quaint altstadt, rolling hills, blue lake, and beckoning Alps in the background.  It’s gorgeous.  People are friendly and patient with my (slowly) developing Swiss German.

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Four duffle bags worth of worldly belongings seems like a lot when packing, but it’s easily swallowed by an empty apartment.  I don’t know if I’m proud or unsettled by how few possessions we deem absolutely necessary.  The building is new; everything is glossy and freshly painted.  I haven’t had to fix anything in months.  Although there has been an IKEA construction project taking place somewhere in the apartment since we arrived.  I knew all those years of playing with Legos would pay off!  I’m sure we’ll miss a little grit eventually, but for now it sure is nice to have things just work.

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There are cows and a dairy farm with fresh milk right outside our window, the Zugerberg range standing guard over Zug, and the Alps on the other side of the lake.  Several festivals in town have whipped into oompah band fueled fetes.  Cows and beer?  Miranda is sold.  Biking, skiing, and paragliding out the backdoor?  Me too!

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Miranda and I have met a warm welcome here.  The other teachers have taken us under wing, inviting us to dinners and on outings, helping us find our way around, and giving us the beta on life in der Schweiz.  Most have been in Switzerland for some years.  Everyone seems happy here.  I’m sure we will be too.

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Boat Update:  Brave Tayrona is still awaiting her new crew.  There’s been some paperwork tangle that has slowed her sale (and sail), but she’s hopeful to be back on the water soon.

Re-Entry to the Midwest

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Author:  Pete
Location: Midwest, USA

Somehow I again find myself writing in the dark hours of the night, mid-ocean, aboard a turbulent vessel. It’s come sooner than expected, too. This time the command of the craft is not mine, but with two hundred airline passengers aboard, I’m happy that someone else is at the helm. We’re flying to Switzerland. The summer has come and gone fleetingly as usual, and now here I am, ruminating through the silence of a night watch once more, looking out across black seas.

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Our dizzying return to civilization felt like an astronaut’s re-entry to the atmosphere.  After rocketing back towards the gravity of the Midwest and debriefing with mission control, we wobbled about a bit on unsteady legs, adjusting to the world’s forgotten fundamental laws.  Like any good produce-impaired cosmonaut, we gorged ourselves on fresh fruits and veggies upon returning to Earth, but retained a strange inclination towards freeze-dried foods.

It was revitalizing to be home, to see family and friends, and to not worry so much about the boat.  I tried to keep a cool demeanor about the whole nautical escapade.  It felt like gloating to hint at our feeling of accomplishment about the Tayrona years and our excitement about moving to Switzerland.  I’d sometimes brush off the upcoming move as a tiresome necessity of our occupation or omit entire portions of my life in casual conversation to avoid sounding like a madman.

Summer was like a good kielbasa though: hot, zesty, and fully packed.  Miranda and I had a whirlwind tour of California to see my gramma and uncle Chuck, my cousin’s wedding, and Miranda’s buddies.  Looking west across the Pacific I swear I could see myself standing on Australia’s shores looking back over the water.  I felt like waving to myself.  

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After So-Cal we zipped back to the midwest for another wedding in Wisconsin and well deserved R&R with friends and family on the lakes.  What we didn’t do much of this summer was document anything.  Throughout the boat trip I had an insatiable urge to chronicle everything new that went on.  At home it was refreshing to fall back into the well-known summertime rhythm of sunshine-filled days, friend-filled evenings, and over-filled stomachs.  We’ve eaten pretty much constantly since we’ve been home.  In acquiescence to my palate’s protests though, I’ve been shunning fish, rice, and coconut like a Mennonite cold-shouldering rumspringant youth.

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Sleeping in a motionless bed and ignoring little noises has been an adjustment. More than once I’ve found myself on my feet in the middle of the night perplexed about how to get on deck to check the anchor.  However, I’m enjoying water that comes cold and hot from the tap any time you want it, and weeks on end free of mechanical troubleshooting!

There are still some lingering boat-related compulsions of which I’m trying to wean myself off.  Sometimes I’ll break down and revert to old weather-monitoring habits, looking for prime kite and windsurfing conditions in Lake Michigan.  Kitesurfing is my methadone and there were several blowout days this summer to wind-binge.  I even got out for a sailboat regatta with some family friends who needed extra crew.  I’m sure they heard about our nautical exploits and were anticipating their new deckhand to be some kind of sailing savant. Jokes on them!  I tacked and gybed more in those three hours of Wednesday night beer-can racing than in an entire month cruising to the Marquesas.  It was palliative to be on deck again though, working the sheets and halyards even if the lines wasted my now un-calloused palms.  It certainly helped my withdrawls.  Who knew that one could be a sailing junkie?  Pirates are often described as having a monkey on their back, but I just thought that was a figure of speech.

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So that’s the ball game!  Back to reality, as much so as moving to Switzerland provides. Too bad our good Tayrona hasn’t sold yet.  Australia’s elections slowed the buying market down in the past two months so things have cooled off there a touch.  Aside from that, I can’t fathom any better outcome of our odyssey.  Now, on to other adventures in Europe!  We’ll keep posting from the other side of the pond.  Tschüss!

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Okay, fine!  So I made up rumspringant!  Big deal!  Rumspringa is a period of time in an adolescent Mennonite’s life where recalcitrant behavior is accepted.  I chose to throw caution to the wind on my own literary rumspringa and adjective-ize the ever-loving snot outta that noun!  Take that!  Grammatical correctness be-damned and long live italics!