These are the waning days of my time in Zermatt, and I’ve slacked off a bit from keeping up with… life, it seems. I have a journal in which I barely wrote, quite a few postcards that I left unwritten, and a list of “I wish I had done X” that seems to grow by the day. On the other hand, the days, while short, have felt full. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I wish that my time were more my OWN – that I could have spent a few more days on my own terms and not worrying about all of the items pending on my mental to-do list. But, perhaps that is life?
Back to the theme of skiing – Zermatt is one of the few places that I know of where people can and do ski year round. Mind you, summer skiing here is probably not optimal, but if you are training with a national ski team, then it might not matter. And, by the way, on our very first weekend in Zermatt, we saw several ski teams that were coming down from the glacier where they had been, one would assume, skiing. So, while November is still early for prime skiing, it’s amazing to spend November 1st on the ski slopes! But here we were:
So, the skiing hasn’t been SUPER great because November has actually been, no joke, warmer than most of October. But, again, I was skiing mid-day on a pretty regular basis, so I can’t complain too much. Plus, the warmer weather allowed a final hike, even though we had to cut it short and didn’t quite make it to our destination, “Hidden Valley”.
It was so strange to do this hike in mid-November and discover… no snow. Michael and I hiked around the same area in mid-October, and it was hard work and tough going in some parts with all the snow. However, because of the warmer weather, the entire group was able to enjoy a day of ice-climbing. I’ll admit that I wasn’t as excited about this excursion, for whatever reason, but it was really amazing to take a group of almost 60 people (with guides, definitely 60) and watch us play around on glaciers, in ice caves and on ice walls. I didn’t plan on climbing, but when a Swiss guide points at you and says “Climb!”, well, you might as well pick up the ice axes and go for it. I only climbed one pitch, but it ended up being a LOT of fun. It’s a different experience from rock climbing, and I was worried that I wouldn’t have the physical strength to climb, but it was a really cool experience!
After ice-climbing, really, all we did was ski (for activities, at least). And that was pretty awesome. Some days were definitely better than others, but I often had to pinch myself that I was skiing in the middle of school day in the Alps! How much luckier could I be?
In addition to skiing, we did celebrate Thanksgiving. I’m sure that it was hard for some students to be away from their families, but we had a fun day – playing capture-the-flag in a snow field and later sitting down for a lovely meal, complete with turkey, dressing (sort of), and pumpkin pie!
And then, we went right from Thanksgiving to Christmas – Zermatt, after feeling so sleepy for much of October/November, suddenly woke up and came alive. Stores re-opened or prices rose, bars picked up and there were even a few nights of live music. And Christmas decorations suddenly appeared around town. There was even a town Christmas-tree lighting with some carols and hot cocoa.
It’s funny – at times, it all just seems so fake and almost cheesy because it is SO picturesque and also rather touristy, but then I remind myself that it really IS this beautiful, so just embrace it. While I’ve missed being at home, being with Michael and Gus, the past few weeks – months, really – have been a gift, and I have, as my mother says we should, counted my blessings.
As we pack and get ready to leave, it’s with mixed feelings that I close the Swiss adventure. I’m not sure if I’ll return – there is too much uncertainty in my life at the moment. But one thing that I am sure of – this was a special experience.