All in a year

Phew, it was tough coming back to this blog. It certainly has been in the back of mind for a few weeks now, and tickling my interest for a few days now, and suddenly in these hours after a very successful yoga class (7 people, new record) I feel it is time to dive back in.

The last months have been a whirlwind, as is the usual forecast for Zurich – partly inspiring, with a slight chance of spontaneity, but the evening looks clear for opportunity. I have been spending my time in about 4 locations (geez I should really get out more):

1. ETH (aka school) part-time with only a few classes, but enough to keep me busy and engaged in student life

2. Poyry (aka work)

3. ETH (oh yah, again) this time as a research assistant helping with this year’s case study (see the school page for last year’s details)

4. The ‘ new room’ which is the wonderful new shared space I am renting with a handful of other people. On a weekly basis it sees 2 yoga practices (by yours truly), 2 band practices (post rock chill: http://www.myspace.com/artistsasyoungmen), dozens of garden sessions as we try to tame some wild blackberries and ravaging invasive species and some pet chickens may be next on the list, and finally a wonderful veggie barbecue or two.

Between it all, I try to sleep.

Oh and look for a new apartment.

Which I just found!

So the scenery will be changing, thank goodness, but it is still right in between all my 4 hangouts, ideal. This is what I have been looking at through my window for the last year, with more or less clarity.

my clock tower

I am happy to move on from this, though I have conquered the task of sleeping through the quarterly bells.

But moving always brings back memories of the journey, which is deeply important to me. And nostalgia hit me this week as I began to pack up what has only been 2 year’s accumulation of Swiss-ness. But I thought to bring you along for the ride and share a few of the picture moments over the last year.

Engadine

To start, some typical Swiss landscapes and villages. This is the village of Scuol, in the beautiful Engadine valley in South East Switzerland. Famous for its fountains with naturally occurring minerals (I think they are high in iron), with an almost carbonated flavour! If anything, being in Switzerland makes you feel healthy- whether it be the fresh air or sparkling waters.

River crossing

Got good use of that backpack in the last year (Thanks, Lisa!). A few camping trips after Scotland, involving some painfully cold mountain water but all worth it for the best camp and cook site. I spent some great time in the mountains before heading to Burkina, which possibly made the transition even more extreme. More on that later…

The valleys are deep and long here, straighter than what I know from Canada and much more inhabited. You can never really get lost in the mountains here, which is certainly an advantage, but it also means that you have to make the extra effort (i.e. freezing foot spa therapy) to get away from it all.

Gourmet

Certainly can’t beat the flavour of warm food after a long hike, or that tingle on the skin as you crawl into a tent and you are finally out of the elements. The sensation is addictive as it is one of those rare moments when I feel totally free and capable of surviving on my own… at least for one night!

My maple heritage

An outstanding Maple, alone in a mountain meadow, standing strong as the moss creeps up. I found this tree on a hike that went awry when I lost my way and ended up going straight up to find the path again. As I dragged myself up the steep ascent, I came across some friendly cows, a few goats, a hidden waterfall, and finally the path again. This was a few days before I left for Ouagadougou, I like that this adventure was somewhat foretelling of what I would experience in Africa.

The sun beats on

Less than 3 months in Burkina Faso, but a world of experiences. I took this picture, above, on one of my trips into the country side where we were visiting the project villages. It was just after a brief but pounding rain storm in the afternoon, and as the sun set the air was crisp, a rare smell down there as everything is seeped in the tradition of heat. I distinctly remember sighing with this thought and thinking that this place has a soul that reaches so much further than I knew.

Snow search

Back from Burkina and into the winter… well almost. A lack of snow made for a lot of walking in the dry hills.

Maja

On that same ski trip we did eventually get some snow. My lovely friend Maja from Croatia with her youthful energy and openness. One of the many smiles that I know so well now.

Sun bathing

Another important character in my circle, Andrea from Canada. She is all-trusting and always in when I want to go on an adventure. She was brave enough this time to venture off the trail when we were going snow-shoeing. I’m no expert by far (memories of Troll Falls with Ellen and Jess come to mind) and we had to cross 2 ravines under my command… oops… not so easy when your feet are 3 times as big. But we survived and even found some sun in the end.

Mountain art

Nature creates some surprising forms. Here the old stumps get snow damps as the wind whisks around the trunk.

tea pause

I thought I should mention that I drank a lot of tea in the past year. Current favourites are Bengal Spice and Sage leaf.

sunlit curls

Family, one of the deciding factors why I came to Switzerland. Not only do they provide the laughs, the hugs, and the support that we all need, but they are ridiculously photogenic ūüôā

Monkey Mia
mirrored concentration
Mother and daughter

One of my favourites of the year, capturing the goofy humour these two share. Sadly with moving, Caylin and I move apart, but we promise to have some girls dinners every once in a while too!

summer in the city

I currently live, that is before I move, in a particularly diverse neighbourhood of Zurich. That is saying a lot considering the political swing with regards to foreigners. Since I have been at this address, I have gotten to know a few of my Eastern European neighbours, heard hilarious stories about the Persian hairstylist and got tips from the¬†Philippine¬†grocery store owner on how to make a good wok. The street behind my building is the legal prostitution zone (don’t worry mom!) and there are several designated¬†graffiti¬†spaces along the river path. This is just like Zurich, fun yet still in order and under control. In the end, for the foreigners, we get to have a lot of fun as we carve out our own place in the city.

Beautiful Bea

Another smiling face from the very first days in Switzerland. Bea, from Holland and working in Zurich, is my go-to for everything, literally. One of the strongest and most independent young women I know, we have spent many long nights with a glass of wine trying to understand…

Laughing Lore

Another great smile in Zurich. My friend Lorena from Mexico and her sister with great humour and identical laughs. The international crowd is ever pushing the buttons of the Swiss, hehe. Lore lives at the edge of the forest and we have begun the barbecue season amongst the trees up there. And to end this post, one of the recent barbecues in the forest included the fire show below.

Fire dance

What a great year! Better get packing and start off the next one knowing where my socks are!