Of course, from Switzerland, most people first think of mountains, cows, cheese, Swiss watches, Swiss pocket knife, Swiss hats and heavenly chocolate.
The reality is a little wider than that, but the fact is that these are typical of Swiss life.
I was no longer a cranky, young girl when fate flew to Switzerland with a double twist. Even though I had geography my favourite subject in high school too, we have learned very little about this country. Or could it be, that I didn’t remember it or forget it? I never intended to work, live in this country. I knew broadly, that – including – Switzerland is also a country out of reach for me. So I put my head in the sand like an ostrich, and I thought, if I ignore the news of the country, I would protect myself from the disappointment that I would never see, never know, the pearls of Switzerland.
And behold – behold! I had already passed the delta of my life, when fate offered me a chance on the silver tray. I had exactly 3 days to decide if I accept the OPPORTUNITY offered and I will start to work within a week in this wonderfully wild, stunning country surrounded by mountains.
In high school I had a favourite teacher, who I still remember with a warm heart, his name was Andor Kövesdi. He was always able to give such super advice on life that it would have been a sin not to remember it. In this historic situation, he appeared before my spiritual eyes and said, “Don’t hesitate! What do you have to lose? If it doesn’t work out, you still have room to come back home! If you don’t try it, you will never know, that if you would find your place! And then, as Hungarians say: I closed my eyes, I closed my ears and jumped right in the middle with the calm of the odds. It’s been more than 7 years now, and since then I have seen so many beautiful things, that I think, If I will be retired I will write them down on my memoirs. It is my intention that what I have experienced and seen in my work will be published in a separate book before they are eternally forgotten.
The castle of Tarpasi. In Graubün.If anyone thinks, that during this time of rabbit tail time I have had the opportunity to look at just a little bit of basic information about the country, then I have to disappoint them.
Dear readers think of me as irresponsible, stupid, etc.! I accept! I arrived without knowing anything about Switzerland. And if I knew everything back then what I know now, maybe, I never dare to get in to a great adventure. But I can’t thank for the fate that it took me here.
I think I’m correct if I mention my first employer (already moved to the eternal peaks) who asked me if I had been to Switzerland before. And when I confessed that I didn’t, and I know almost nothing about his country, he just said that if we can work well together, he will show me the most beautiful parts of his country. He kept his words – thanks to him and God!
It is a mistake to think that everything went like a charm. Switzerland is a very closed society. While many migrant workers and the presence of many nations contradict this, foreigners are rarely welcomed. Whatever we do, we are always foreigners, strangers in their eyes. They accept our presence because they know our work is needed, but only rarely do they open up, and they still allow only a small amount to be seen. Well, in the absence of such basic information, I arrived and started my daily routine.
The biggest problem was the lack of language skills. It is known that Switzerland has 4 different languages, all of which are official. These are German, Franche, Italian, and Romance in Graubünden Cantonese.
If someone says, German, everyone thinks of the “hohdajcs”. Now, the sound of the “sviccerdücs” is quite different. I was just blinking when I had to fill out official papers in German. I thought I was somewhere in the other corner of the world because I didn’t understand a word. Then I asked the people in a nice way to talk to me in “hohdajcs”. This went on for 5 words, but then they switched back to their own language. Today I just smile on these cases. I already use many local words myself. Such as mendig, zístik, dunstig, frittig, zamstig, szundig, well don’t forget my favourite the túzig!! And for all to understand what it is, six day in a week except Wednesday, because Mittwoch is Mittwoch. Túzig means 1000. But if a person makes a call here, that’s the álütte, if getting dressed that’s allége, when I go up that’s the obedure.
Well, after my first week of work, my favourite ex-boss saw that we could work together, no matter what, so he started the show. His wife and he were cool – elves all their lives, hiking a lot on foot and on horseback. Then we went everywhere in a threesome, and that was fine.
I started working in May and it was September, like now, when I was given an unforgettable experience. I am grateful for it!
Where there are such highlands, the animals are taken to the highlands in the Alps in the spring. Above 1500 m, the air is so fresh that the lungs are saying thank you for it.
Animals like to graze on the hillsides and provide nutritious milk, which is then used by the Senner people to make finer and more special cheeses. With lots of exercises, the animals’ flesh does not become greasy and even gets a special flavour. From spring to early autumn, the animals are in the open air. But the winter is arriving earlier in the mountains. Before the snowfall, a big celebration, like Thanksgiving, will bring the animals down to the village. It is a touching tribute to the animals that provide food for them in the winter. In this time the animals play the main role. This is the so-called. Alpabfahrt.
In many cases, cows are decorated with a beautiful flower crown and their columbine is decorated too. Although not everywhere.
It takes a lot of preparation to get them down because the crown has to cover many kilometres. On the day of celebration, the animals are beautifully decorated, often walking more than 10 km before reaching the village. It’s not just the animals dressing up. Both Bauers and Senners wear traditional festive dress and group their animals down the mountain. They “sing” as they go. But the song has no lyrics, and in a higher voice, they sound wonderfully humming in several voices.
On marching down first comes the children with smaller animals, eg. goats, foals born up there during the summer.
This is an extraordinary spectacle of the beginning of autumn. Where it is held for the general public, there are many buses from distant locations. In many cases, more than 10,000 people are wondering about such an event.
The people and animals arriving beautifully in line are greeted by orchestral music on the main square of the village.
When all people and all animals arrive, they have a big party, thanking them for the summer reproduction, milk, cheese, and the food for the winter.
This is a touching tradition in Switzerland. Being a sensitive person, I always have my throat tightened when I see a group arriving. It includes respect for, appreciation for, and thanksgiving to nature.
Nurturing, preserving and passing on traditions is to be commended everywhere, as it is extremely important for the future because there is neither present nor future without the past.