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Switzerland: Travels with Andreas

October 27, 2010

Descending the Cairo Side a novel of the traveling life

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I made a good friend in Central America during one of my first trips through the region.  His name was Andreas and he was Swiss.  He had reckless streak – once in Costa Rica he ate a mushroom because it looked “pretty” and spent four days convulsed, but he was a kind and spiritual person.

In 1980, after leaving Africa, I spent a few months in  Europe looking up old travel companions.  And sure enough Andreas, who lived in Bern, welcomed into his home for a few days. He lived in a tiny apartment with artifacts from his journeys in Latin America.  Andreas was especially proud of the flask of Ayahuasca he’d brought back from Peru.  “I’m saving it for a special occasion,” he told me.

His job in Bern was to drive a beer truck into the mountains and deliver the life-giving foam to rural customers, mostly farmers.  I would accompany him as he ponderously drove his rig through the narrow winding mountain roads.  At every stop the customer/farmer, anxiously awaiting delivery, would welcome us into  his home and insist that we join him a in a round of schnapps and coffee. By the end of the day the fog along the roadways always seemed to increase.

One enjoyable story I heard concerned the Swiss government’s desire to implement Daylight Savings Time in the country.  The proposal met with stiff resistance from the farmers, who insisted that their cows would not appreciate the time change, and so milk production was sure to dwindle as the bovines protested in the only way they could manage.

I believe a referendum was held on the subject and the idea soundly defeated.  So the cows of Switzerland continued their routine in peace, able to ignore the workings of their masters’ timepieces.

1) Out on a beer run

2) restaurant balcony – Swiss chalet-style

3) Higher mountains looking wintry

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