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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Seeing Switzerland, the first hours

Switzerland makes an impression even before we land, dipping below the thick cloud cover on our final descent:   orderly, neat rows of roofs, a winding river punctuated by isolated patches of trees.  The airport feels monstrously large after Entebbe, miles of corridor, spotless bathrooms, punctual buses deliver us to a nearby hotel where we are to wait for Scott’s family to arrive tomorrow.  We venture out for breakfast, disrupting traffic as we wait on the road side and yet cars magically stop for us as soon as our toes touch the yellow striped crosswalk.  Heady with the power to stop traffic (this after days in Kampala, dodging death, running and weaving to cross streets . . . .) we briefly consider just spending the day crossing streets for entertainment, but the bakery across the street lures us on with a human-size croissant statue out front.  Inside dozens of people are taking a morning break, confidently pointing to pastries and counting out their francs.  The clerk addresses us in German—oh, we are invisible immigrants at last, not obvious bajungu!  We choose rolls with crusty crackling crusts, flaky buttery croissants, and a pastry that is covered with berries (black, straw, and ras) so vivid and luscious that it does not look real.  Cappuccino please!  Ahhhhh.  The price is a bit concerning, more than we’d spend for DAYS of food in Bundibugyo.  Yet luxuries like chocolate bars are by contrast cheap.  We stroll up and down the street to such foreign and memorable sights as fresh grapes in the market (!), neat cafes, shiny little two-seater Europe-sized cars.  Back to the hotel for HOT WATER showers with INCREDIBLE FLOW, I feel like I’m being pressure washed like the side of a dusty house.  Quietness.  Forget the Alps, we could probably be very entertained within these two blocks of normal Swiss life.  

I wonder how African immigrants adjust, do they miss the life of bustle, color, noise, the richness of smells and human contact pushing and jostling?  I think even I would eventually.  But for today the contrast is refreshing.

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