So after being in Paris for 4 nights I took an Euroline bus and headed back to Lyon, as it was easier to go to Switzerland from there, besides that I also had a Regus office right near the train station, which made it easier to work and then hop into the train. Also, I did the trip during the night so it eventually gave me one more day free of the hassle of finding a place to sleep. I arrived quite early in the morning and since I knew my way around from the previous stay at Lyon I just took a walk and then a bus and got into the office.
The trip from Paris to Lyon was 35€ and the train from Lyon to Lausanne was 44€, with 3 changes. I was going to stay at a longtime friend’s house and he was going to pick me up at Lausanne, from where we would go to St. Croix, where he lived.
Switzerland is rainy and most of the time grey, even though I actually caught a few days of shiny sun. I wasn’t counting on staying as much as I did, about 2 weeks, but due to some problems I did. It was great that André was there otherwise I would have been screwed. Besides being with someone I enjoy he made my stay very pleasant and helped a lot. I cooked a few times but mostly it was he who took care of that. He has worked for the past 5 years as a cook and he’s a great one. Besides that, he’s very talented regarding music, not that he has any kind of formal education on it, it’s just something natural I guess. You can check a music he wrote (and he is singing as well) for which I made a small videoclip. It’s dark, but in a way I like it, it’s raw and it certainly convenes the ambience of Switzerland with its rainy and cloudy days. It also reminds me of some of Thom Yorke’s solo work – which is good.
It’s a shame that once again I didn’t photograph what we ate, but in a way that looks kinda instagramish for me and also, it would make you envious and drool over your keyboard, so who would want that.
St. Croix is very small and sits at the top of a mountain. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong but at the same time the weather is a pain in the ass. It’s amazing how many portuguese people live there, both in St. Croix (which is a small village) and in Yverdon. Most of them are emigrants coming from the north of Portugal. So besides getting real drunk for the first time in my trip, we went out sometimes, I’ve met a few swiss people along with some portuguese.
We went to see some beautiful spots near, which are mostly amazing mountain views, really good for long walks on sunny sundays. Below the mountain there is Yverdon, just in the margin of a gigantic lake. There is open countryside with fields of yellow flowers, little forests and woods and steep mountains and hills. If you’re into nature and you’re not that much into beaches and sun, this is a great place to go.
We also went to Montreaux and of course we saw Freddie Mercury’s statue, but that day didn’t go as we had planned. You see, we were supposed to leave St. Croix by 7 am and take the day to visit a list of places and cities in Switzerland, but since we got so wasted the night before we actually went to sleep “just a little bit” at 7 am. Needless to say we went out at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon and that reduced our magnificent trip to almost nothing, due to time constraints, I mean, you get it, we’re so stupid. I guess that happens when you’re with a friend, you do stupid things and it’s funny too.
André is also learning how to drive, after having passed the theoretical exam and the first time I went with him on the car he told me – Look, this is the soundtrack for my driving – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I’ve put a spell on you – and once we started I could completely get it, I mean the rhythm of a sailing boat on a tormented sea with pirates getting drunk in the cabin – that was it. From the second time on, he actually got pretty good at it so it wasn’t that funny anymore.
On the economic side Switzerland is very expensive, from public transportation to grocery goods or even Mcdonalds (a usual menu starts at 12€ – while in Portugal it’s 5.5€) and kebabs (about 10€ – while in Berlin for instance, where I am right now – it’s about 3€). So if you’re there you’ll spend some money for sure. By what André told me it’s quite heavily taxed as well, which in turn allows for a great deal of social welfare services.
Besides the usual things European countries have, they for instance arrange apartments and monthly instalments to drug addicts in order to prevent them from living in the streets and begging. What I found curious was that Switzerland is starting to talk about imposing restrictions on immigration policies. I find it sad and laughable at the same time, for such a country that’s so highly dependent on the external (both labour and goods – it imports around 70% of what it consumes and has a great percentage of foreign people working) to even put that up on the table. People still believe in the foreigners problems, as if it was that that was creating the economic slowdown. I also find it deeply hypocrite to just fill a country’s need for cheap labour and once it’s achieved close back the borders.
It’s like – Ok, so now we have all we need for the construction market, for our high-revenue hotels and restaurants, we have all the slave needs filled so let’s just close it so no more dirty and lazy foreigners come in here to take advantage of our social system – which by the way and no matter how good it is doesn’t even start to payoff the horrible weather you have to endure there. I would actually like to see what would happen to such a country if all foreigners abandoned it and if they were embargoed. Really, they would turn to deer hunting or keep on doing money laundry for the dirty money they held in secrecy. It’s a bit like Europe – we condemn you non-democratic countries, but please, feel free to send your richness to our banks, we’ll keep good care of it.
Other thing that really pissed me while there was this sense of superiority some of the natives have regarding foreigners. I felt some of it in Paris too. But here I was just pissed. On my last day I had just checked the trains available to go to Turin on the internet but since I couldn’t use my CC I had to go to a selling point to buy it. Once there I waited to get attended and I was directed to the “international” counter. There a very stupid lady almost refused talking in English with me because my friend spoke French. I was polite and educated, actually warm when talking to her, but after explaining her what I wanted to buy she gave me an option alone. To go through train with a ticket that costed about 140€. I then said, well, I had just looked at your website and there was that ticket but also a different one, that went through another route, for about 60€. She said she could only sell me that one and told me if I wanted to get the other one to buy it on the internet and refused to let me use the computer to show her. So to keep myself from punching her in the face I went out. We ended up going to Lausanne where I, obviously, was able to purchase the exact same ticket I wanted and had seen on the internet. I wanted to go to that same desk to write a complain about her but since we had to go almost immediately to catch the train at Lausanne I was unable to. I hope she breaks a leg or something – and no, I’m not wishing her luck. This is not to say I haven’t met friendly and nice people as of course I did, but many of them are unnervingly stupid, looking at you with a certain sense of superiority – it’s like they feel entitled for only speaking one friggin’ language – I would say they should feel stupid but no, they don’t – IT’S AMAZING!
One other thing I’m becoming quite aware of is the way most people treat you depending on how you look. This is a human culture thing though. Most people pay way too much attention to that. It makes sense because the way you dress and look, if you do your beard and all that, sort of gives clues of how you think, but you know, there’s more than meets the eye. As a traveller right now I’m also each day more certain that being treated in a friendly way because you’re buying or paying for a service isn’t really reflect a friendly nature. It’s just business.
Do you need a reason to smile? I’m asking because I don’t think I need one. Smiling is in itself the reason. In Berlin (that’s a few weeks ahead of this timeline) I was at a small open-air party talking with an italian girl who lived there and she mentioned at some point, regarding different cultures, that she liked people who just answered a smile with a smile, instead of questioning “Why are you smiling?”. A smile is a smile is a smile. Smile, you’re doing good to yourself and to whoever receives your smile.
What can I tell you more? Once again staying in a place and how you feel about it is closely related to the people with whom you stay, or with whom you’re travelling or even with whom you meet. My exploration of my own self, along with the study of other people’s thoughts, have been shedding some light into the nature of all this we call life. Did you spend any holidays with someone you like, a loved one, your children, or when you’re starting a change for better? If you have, didn’t it feel great? I bet you have great memories of it and you regard that city/place to have been so special. Have you ever imagined visiting the same place without that which made it so important? Would it live up to your expectations? I guess if you didn’t find something to make it beautiful it wouldn’t, even if all the remaining stuff was there.
What I think I’m finding is amazing but also very scary. Actually, it seems you’re one with the rest of the world – not only in a metaphorical, social and economical way – I mean, the world besides being a fragmentation of consciousness, is also a projection. This is amazing because it’s empowering but it’s also scary because in a way, it renders it meaningless. I’ve always been interested in the question of the void – or emptiness – I actually think it to be quite interesting. Once again it’s empowering, because it means if you’re basically empty (as well as all experiences) you can fill that void. On the other hand, it means that it’s only your mental projection that gives rise to anything at all. The same with memories, they can portray something real or be based on something that actually happened but in the end they’re just projections that we keep alive for many and different reasons. So is there any kind of freedom achievable other than a return to complete nothingness? It seems there is not. That’s not a great solution either as it would mean to just cease to exist and I like to exist, I like to experience things. Is there any way to have a kind of innocence and ingenuity that doesn’t conform to established patterns or that doesn’t force future patterns? These are not light questions, by any measure, but I’m finding it important to ask them to myself now.
Finally, to finish this post I have to talk about the European Union. Once again it’s becoming dark. Righ-wing is rising once again and their demagogic narratives are making their way into the mainstream media. The sad thing is many not so bright people actually believe them and see it as a viable solution to the economic problems that are hitting Europe. I don’t mean it like I’m superior to the people who vote for this guys because I advocate equality. I say it because the arguments they use are completely flawed. It would be great to see some of these right-wing supporters going after big names involved in corruption. It would also be cool to see them talk about how national (in each country) outsourcing companies lower the labour value and rob works from the people who live there. Because you see, it’s quite easy to blame the emigrants who are paid a small part of what the job pays while the outsourcing company keeps most of the salary for themselves. The funny thing is, these companies aren’t run by emigrants, they’re actually run by people native to those countries and it’s them who do this, not the romanian worker who gets hired in his country by them. But since it’s such a powerful field with so many vested interests it gets really hard to bring attention to it. I’m not even against outsourcing, I just think you should NOT be allowed to spew hatred based on lies, specially in mainstream media.
My next post will be about some of the work I do through the internet.
And here you can see how I look when on the move
In the meanwhile I already passed by Turin and I’m currently in Berlin. Keep tuned and … smile!