09/15 Zermatt, Switzerland

15 Sep 1985, Posted by Scott An Chora in Travelogue, No Comments.

09/15 Zermatt, Switzerland


A trip to Zermatt was next on my agenda, so the next day was nothing but train travel.  When I finally reached Visp I hit a fork in the road and needed to make a decision on whether to fork out an extra nineteen dollars for a round trip train ticket or to thumb my way into Zermatt.  The rail to Zermatt was a private railroad and not covered under my rail pass.  I looked around and since there was not a single car heading in that direction my decision was made easily.  Both windows provided a spectacular view of the countryside.  The houses looked strong with their slate roofs illustrating the hard winters they were built to endure.  Everything seemed so permanent.  When I reached the hostel’s door it was apparent that they were going to be closed until early evening.  Adjacent to the entry was a storage room that contained a lot expensive ski gear so I wasn’t too concerned leaving my bag of clothes behind.

I wandered about and came up behind an older gentleman putting the Matterhorn on canvas.  It made an interesting picture.  We talked for a bit about art.  He had told me that the face of the Matterhorn is never the same and that’s why he paints it every day.  I walked among and read the many gravestones that gathered around the church.  Many unfortunate people had failed while touching its face.  As I made a circle and wandered back to the hostel I met a young lady sitting out in front.  She said that its door wouldn’t be opened for another three hours or so.  I mentioned that I had enough to put together a few sandwiches and perhaps she would be interested in joining me on a trek up the river.  We picnicked along the river’s edge and took the opportunity to do a little exploring.  Surprisingly she was willing to go off-road and held her own.  Still I had to be careful that she didn’t take a misstep.  The water was very cold and if one unfortunately fell in, it wouldn’t be good.

Then oh my God!  As I was standing in front of the hostel just after I had checked in and claimed myself a bed I looked up and there stood an absolutely beautiful woman.  When she smiled the world lit up around her.  She stood there with another young man and it appeared as if they were deciding whether or not to stay at that hostel.  I couldn’t help myself from persuading them to stay.  It turned out they were boyfriend and girlfriend, on vacation from the States.  She was originally from Iceland but had been living in the States for some time.  We struck up conversations that lead to a dinner invitation.  The young lady I had met earlier also joined us making it a foursome.  After dinner we ended up at a local bar called the “Brown Cow”.  The stories got better after each drink.  About half way through the evening when her boyfriend went to pick up another round and my young lady friend wandered off to the ladies room, the goddess inquired why I carried that small bag everywhere I went.  I explained that I was writing a journal, used film, my identification and currencies.  Those things I couldn’t bear losing.  That opened up a flood gate of new topics.

A line from a forgotten movie entered my head: “I’m just a man walking through the deserts of life, searching for water and I’m only finding sand” then he paused and waits to see if it hooked.  If she says anything close to “I didn’t know you were lost in a desert” then deliver the line “I didn’t either until I met you”.  I think it was Paul Newman.  Hitting on a young lady at the table of her boyfriend is in bad taste but I enjoyed the thought and probably smiled at something she said.  I came to realize that beauty, true beauty, requires many defenses.  It seems as if every guy crawled out from under a rock to tried their luck.  They planned to go skiing the next day and I had earmarked a trek up the north side of the mountain.  We ended up continuing the conversation in the darkness on a hill just within yelling distance of our hostel.

I woke up about three or four in the morning.  There through my window stood the Matterhorn under a bright full moon.  The painter I met yesterday was right.  It did look completely different and now seem larger than life as it towered over this tiny village.  It beaconed me to climb and to listen to the stories it had to tell.  I got the impression that it did not know the meaning of words such as war, violence, or bigotry but was well aware of words like, exhaustion, fear and cold.

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    Usually behind a cup of coffee waiting for the world around me to wake up I entered today’s thoughts about yesterday’s activities into my travel journal. I’m not a writer, so I’ll apologize in advance if I jump around or seem confused. These are just the thoughts of a young man who left his possessions behind and who believes that getting lost is how one finds oneself.

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