My walking trips are getting longer and longer. It just feels good to be out there. So on Sunday, it was no exception. I hit the road. I had no plan and that is so me..no plan..just go. Sometimes when we start our journeys it is good to know where we are going and sometimes not. Sunday was a sometimes not kind of day. An hour into my walk I realized that I didn´t know where I was. Since being lost is a normal state for me, I didn´t panic. I thought Google will fix this. It didn´t. No reception. So what do you do when you don´t know? You ask! ..and that is just what I did.
The first person I approached was an older woman coming up the hill towards me and I think I startled her a little with my “Gruezi”. I have a good or bad habit of greeting everyone I see. That´s just me.
She looked at me, hesitated a little and greeted me back. My accent tends to make people stop and think before they answer. “Sorry… aber ich habe mich verloren.”, I said. Now I know that my attempts at German can be been quite exhausting for some listeners but she must have understood and didn´t hesitate for a minute. She asked me where I was from and where I wanted to go, took me practically by the hand and said…” Komm mit” and I did. The way was full of stories..hers and mine. I walked with her and by the time we said “Tschüss” I had learned about her lost husband, the family she adored, her childhood on a farm and her thoughts on the Coronavirus. She pointed ahead and said “Waldrand folge und dann rechts abbiege” or at least that is what I thought she said and I am sure she also said you can´t miss it.
I started walking and I kept on walking. At some point, I realized this isn´t right. I couldn´t miss it…but I did. There I was lost but not lost. It was Sunday morning in Switzerland and Coronavirus or not there are always people in the forest or the mountains. It wasn´t long until I found the next person to help. It was a swimming acquaintance. Acquaintance is a wonderful world that I teach all of my students. It is a person you see week in and week out at the pool or the bakery or the grocery store who says hi and bye and that´s it. It is a familiar face without a name. We made some small talk about the pool and the virus that is keeping us out of the water and somewhere in all of that I told him I was lost. He tried to help but he only knew the way back to his car. His only advice…” du muss abe”..or at least that is what I thought he said and I am sure he also said you can´t miss it.
So following this friendly advice I started off again. Soon it was past lunch and I had the funny feeling that going down was not enough to get me home. I was cool about it but getting hungrier and thirstier by the minute. I kept imaging myself like a Canadian Ötzi..lost in the Swiss mountains starved and frozen for future generations to find. I was just about to lose all hope when I heard voices and footsteps. It was a husband and wife out for a walk after lunch. “Komm mit” they said. I had heard that hours before and was still no closer to home but I went anyway. Canadians have a hard time saying no. I walked and we talked about a friend of theirs who went to live in Canada and their visits and their children and their farm and their last English course. We were so busy talking that I didn´t even notice that the hill we were walking on was familiar. Suddenly I realized I knew where I was.
I thanked them and rushed down to the house. 5 hours later I was at home telling everyone about my adventures and it was then that it became clear. I had been walking around in circles never more than 30 minutes from my house. It was a wonderful day to be lost and found and it was made even better by the people who helped save the Canadian. I guess that is what makes me feel so welcome here in Switzerland. I guess I am home.