Switzlerand is wasted on those who do not visit the mountains. With this in mind, this weekend eight fairly incompetent teenagers embarked on a five hour hikefrom Glarus Bahnhof to a campsite on the idyllic Klöntalersee. The journey was beautiful, serene and at times somewhat surreal, but it was also somewhat ineffable, no matter which words I use, none will be able to describe the beauty of being amongst friends in the valleys of Alpine Switzerland. So I won’t. I’ll let the pictures tell the story as best they can, and instead, I’ll talk about generosity.
Despite all experience, whenever people are kind to me, I am always a little surprised. When we reached the campsite, the clouds were rolling in. I’ve camped before, but I lack the ability to assemble a tent without swearing profusely. When it comes to tent assemblage, I tend to sound like this,
“Where’s the bloody – no, not that you twonk. Does it look like it goes there? No stop being an eejit! That doesn’t go like that! Oh wait…yes it does. Sorry.”
Nonetheless, the most difficult part was securing our shelter to the earth. Switzerland’s soft, fertile loam, normally lends itself to tent pegs, but on this particular evening we seemed to have pitched tents on a patch of rock. We attempted to use the flats of our knives to hammer the tent pegs into the unrelenting earth without much luck when a shout caught our attention. Walking towards us was a jolly Swiss man, offering us a hammer in his outstretched arm.
We thanked him and finished setting up the tents just as the rain began to fall. We returned the borrowed hammer and took shelter around an unlit fire pit, a sheet of corrugated iron making a valiant effort at keeping us dry. We started to heat chili over our camping stoves when a woman came up to us. She had seen us hiding from the rain and said we were more than welcome to sit under the small portico on the side of her caravan to keep the rain off our heads. We smiled and politely declined.
Before long the man who lent us the hammer called to us again, his face still lit up with a smile. We went to him wondering what he wanted. What he wanted was to help us. From the back of his own camper van, he loaded us up with wood which kept us toasty warm and roasted our marshmallows.
The kindness of strangers kept us saved us from a premature soaking, and when the heavens inevitably did open up, warmed our weary bones. It may seem a small kindess, but it was touching. Don’t underestimate small kindesses and don’t abuse them. As we all learned before we can read, when someone is kind like this, always smile and always say thank you. It costs nothing yet its worth so much.