|Photo by Urip Dunker on Unsplash|
Welcome back to another instalment of my Swiss themed A - Z challenge. The letter U talks about Uniformity.
What do I mean by that?
I feel one of the doubtful values my fellow Swiss people and I grew up with is not to stick out at any costs. Blend in, go with the flow, be good and modest.
Average is good, middle class is good, black, gray and dark blue cars and suits are good.
|Photo by José Martín Ramírez C on Unsplash|
After a while you don't even think about what you do and why you do it. You're in your
rut, and you keep going, day after day.
Let me take you on a journey, and I will probably digress hugely. I will make a point, though. I think.
We'll leave Switzerland and fly to...
Before we depart, though, we need to talk about a couple of things that contribute to my comfort zone: My people, my own four walls, my stuff, wifi, electricity, the specific food that I like, you get the picture.
While I don't consider myself an adventurous person, as in the outdoorsy, bungee jumping kind, I do like to go out there and explore. I have been doing my decent share of traveling, too.
Even on the road, though, I don't do camping, and I don't do backpacking.
Certain people call me Miss Holiday Inn because I want a room (preferably within a building, not motel-style with a gap of about an inch giving access to ants and dust) with a bed and a warm, private shower. And I am probably not going to taste grilled guinea pigs or crickets. Are we good? OK.
|Photo by Esteban Venegas on Unsplash|
Yes, on a scale from extremely easy going and laid-back to super high maintenance I I got 58%.
Moving on. Costa Rica, New Year's Eve 2000/2001 plus a couple extra days into January.
|Photo by Nika Akin on Unsplash|
We stayed at a bungalow In the middle of the jungle with no door or windows the way we know it. There were some heavy "mosquito net curtains" you may close in order to make you feel like you don't completely sleep in the rain forest.
I was certainly on the far edge of my comfort zone and beyond, but I don't think I was scared.
|Photo by Tj Kolesnik on Unsplash|
The sounds at night, though!
Capuchine, spider and howler monkeys, crickets, owls, raccoons, frogs... There was a constant howling, chirping, screeching, barking, grunting and growling going on, and it can get ear-piercing. It's also fascinating, though. Unforgettable, in any case.
I did prefer to encounter these animals during the day, though. So many pretty creatures!
|Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash|
So I was talking about the accommodation that lacked proper door and windows. Most restaurants are the same way.
Their rainy season is pretty long (between May and mid-November), but it's not the kind of rain you may know if you live in the Northern hemisphere. It will rain on and off and clear up for a couple of hours. Even if there's a downpour like you've never experienced before (and you didn't bring your jacket or anything) chances are an hour later your clothes are dry, and you'll actually sweat like a sob because of the tropical humidity.
What I'm trying to say: you may run to a coffee shop for shelter and some caffeine, but chances are the sheltering effect is limited. Floors and wooden furniture will be wet, and you'll have to shoo away some cheeky monkeys hanging out, trying to grab some fruit off the table next to you.
On your way back, always watch for iguana crossing the roads!
|Photo by Serge B on Unsplash|
Too bad I can't find my photos from back then. They were real ones, developed from film rolls. Remember those? Therefore I'm super grateful I found so many great ones on Unsplash that perfectly represent my memories.
This is the only restaurant we dined at that looks familiar upon googling, it's called La Cantina BBQ in Manuel Antonio. I remember having liked the experience, but it looks like reviews are not great. It must have become a tourist trap.
|Photo Credit: Tripadvisor|
You can't see it well, but it's open on all four sides as to give the guest the full jungle impression. It was magical. The plants, the animals, the people, the smells, the music, I was really getting the hang of this life. But it was also our last night in the rain forest.
The next day we rode the bus for hours and hours to San José, the capital, where we stayed at your typical American Howard Johnson close to the airport. It was a room like I described initially. A proper door, a bed, a private warm shower - oh, and even pizza delivery!
I won't say I didn't appreciate it, I did!
But already I was missing the monkeys and the sounds of the jungle!
Coming home after a wonderful trip is always hard. Add to that the jet-lag and the overflowing inbox at work and you're like nooooo!
This time it was especially hard. Partly because my then boyfriend continued his trip alone and flew to Ecuador, so I was home alone in Switzerland. We had a beautiful, spacious apartment that I loved, but it felt so closed.
So many walls! I know it sounds ironic! Whatever side I looked out of the window - I facing the next building. Concrete, glass, bleak, depressing!
Where are the luscious trees, the gorgeous strelitzia, the friendly mariposas (butterflies)? Where is the coffee shop that serves pancakes with fresh pineapple? Where are the cheerful people? Where's the calming rushing sound of the Pacific?
Well, let me tell you: not in Switzerland. Everything is earnest, neat and orderly here. Keep your voice down, do what you're asked to, follow he rules, don't look into peoples' faces as you pass them on the street, and don't even think about smiling at them!
|Photo by Andy Grizzell on Unsplash|
As I'm reading this, I have to admit, It sounds terrible. I'm not usually that way, but I distinctly remember that this was how it painfully felt for a couple of days.
Of course I got over it, and we do have cheerful and friendly people in Switzerland, and your day feels much brighter once the fog is gone and the sun comes out. The contrast was just so very palpable.
I had the same experience when we came home from Australia.
Can you relate? Let me know in the comments below.
Tomorrow we're back in Switzerland, and for the letter V we'll talk more about our values, and I promise there are some good ones worth mentioning.