And now what you’ve all been waiting for…

Today would have been my graduation day, if I was in Canada to pick up the diploma. But of course, I’m here! I’ve known for months that I would miss the ceremony and I thought it was no big deal, but now, le jour même, it makes me nostalgic to think of Cam, Alyshah, Jeanne,  Nic, Scott, Allison, Kathleen and the rest of them walking across the stage with me not there. I’m not there, guys, sorry.

But you’ve done it! Congratulations! Celebrate! Go and sit in Patty’s and party for eleven hours, like we did after our last exam. Cadge drinks off random people to celebrate such a momentous event! And at some point, drink a round for me, OK? Preferably Blanche de Chambly, St. Ambroise Abricot, or Moosehead. My favourites.

It’s getting late but I promised to write this post so it will get written. Maybe not in both official languages (yet) but it will get written. I have not written in such a reprehensibly long time that I’ve built up a minor buzz with this post…

Let’s start where we left off. The poutine party went swimmingly. Really, it was about as great as I could have asked for. The gravy flowed, the cheese melted, the potatoes fried (and the bacon too) and I had a nice crowd of Swiss, German, American and Czech Couchsurfers eating poutine in my kitchen. One guy even showed up in a Habs t-shirt. His name was Pascal (although interestingly enough he was German speaking) and he had just come back from Montreal. He said he had eaten his last poutine two weeks ago and was going through withdrawal…despite his being a native German speaker (must have confused a lot of Quebecers with a name like Pascal) and not knowing poutine from putain before his backpacking trip in Quebec. He was the last to leave…wasn’t about to go before the end of Bon Cop Bad Cop. When he left I totally collapsed– I had been soooooooo nervous all day! My roommate was not happy with the mess of grease-coated frying pans I left in the kitchen…but he got his own back when this week I could not make lunch on the counter for two days because it was covered with dirty plates. But I’m going off on one of those one-o-clock-in-the-morning tangents.

One of the guys at the party, a slightly older dude named Adrian (about the same age as my sort-of-boyfriend) invited us all on a road trip the next day. Rather to my surprise, I was the only one who took him up on it.

“Where are we going? I asked at 10:30 the next morning, standing outside his artist’s loft.

“Oh, we’re just going to drive toward the sun,” he said. “It’s an old motorcycle riders’ trick. You can’t exactly read a map on a motorcycle.”

That’s exactly what we did. Adrian is probably one of the most spontaneous people I have ever met. We drove toward the sun, driving simultaneously in the direction of snow-capped mountains. We came to a screeching halt at every little observation point every time he or I said “Oh, that’s pretty.” We went to the next town over, Thun, got coffee, poked our heads into the cathedral and the castle (the latter cost money to go in- no thanks!), ran up and down the stone steps and in and out of the weird pedestrian passageways that all these weird old European towns have, and had coffee in the square. We went to Interlaken, the next-next town over, and, because it was hot, left our jeans on the seawall and went swimming in the blue-blue lake in our T-shirts. The next time we got in the car, we just followed the road as it climbed and climbed. We stopped at a farm and bought alpkase, traditional hard white cheese, not that sharp, made by an old couple  in their home dairy, and sold out of a dank, cool room piled high with wheels and wheels of it. We could see the cows its milk came from…they were everywhere around us. Swiss cheese though it was, it had no holes and did not taste like rubber. In fact, it tasted wonderful, salty and full and fresh. We cut off chunks of it, even without bread.

“This is fantastic, ” I said.

“It’s not industry food, it’s real food,” said Adrian.

I certainly couldn’t have said it any better.

We sunned ourselves on huge rocks in the middle of rushing mountain rapids. We took hundreds of pictures (some of which are coming later this week, I promise). We drove all the way to the foot of a mountain called Grindelwald, took the cable car almost to the top and hiked around up there. We went down with the last cable car, found a meadow and ate our yogurt and most of the cheese, and drank some beer (nothing illegal about grown-ups drinking in public in Switzerland). Then it was time to head back.

I happened to see Adrian today at a Couchsurfing get-together. The weekend coming up is a long one. I asked him it he had any plans.

“Go somewhere warm,” he said. It’s been 20 degrees (C) and drizzling here for a week,


“I dunno. Italy? Provence? Wanna come?”

“I think so.”

Getting back to that first hike with Adrian, it was Sunday. The next day at work I learned Simon’s brother had passed away. That sent chills down my spine; you know my greatest fear is losing someone I love while I’m here!

Fortunately Simon had enough money (on his department head’s salary) to immediately jump on a plane and head home. It was very sad that he lost his brother, of course, but in one small way– having the means and the flexibility to get home in a hurry– he’s exceptionally lucky! There was no way I could get home for Melissa’s funeral. What if something happens to Devan? to Chris? to Cam? I’m not expecting anything to happen to them of course– touch wood, throw salt over my left shoulder and spit– but you never know.

The next week went by at the speed of light, because it was a short week!  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were workdays, Thursday was a holiday and Simon had given me Friday off without much– without any persuading. Not much to say about work except I now have a cubiclemate, a Scottish girl my own age called Iona.  Iona understands French but speaks only English and Laetitia understands English but speaks only French– the two of them were alone in the office on Friday and I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see how they communicated– probably an instructional video for mime school.

Faridah’s complete and total irreverence for anything brightens my days. I’m definitely becoming friends with Laetita, two other interns around our age (Matt and Stéphane) and the gorgeous receptionist, Aimee. There’s movement on all of my projects. The days are passing way, way too fast.

So is the time! It’s two a.m.. I don’t mind staying up another little while– I’m a student (well not anymore I guess) and used to a bit of sleep deprivation, but spilling everything about Geneva would probably take a few more hours, and I can’t afford to do that.

Last Wednesday after work I went out for beers with Adrian and some of his friends, packed a big bag of food, and talked with people on Facebook late into the night. Then I went to bed, slept until I woke up, and caught a train for Geneva.

And I’ll tell you all about Geneva tomorrow.


About msmarguerite

Young Quebec City-based freelance journalist. once and future nomad. I blog about life, about travel, about things I notice and every so often about work. I enjoy language learning, singing, swing dancing, skating and...other stuff, sometimes. My heart is somewhere in East Africa, Haiti or Eastern Europe. English, français, русский, malo slovensko, un poco de espanol, um pouco de português ndiga ikirundi, mwen ap aprann kreyòl...
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