08 November 2011

Switzerland by the Sea

Bonjour et Aloha.

Just a few days ago I was looking out the window of our American home on Hawai‘i Island, and beyond the misty rainforest and glowing volcano, I swear I could see the Alps. I heard the jazzy song of our red rainforest bird, the 'apapane, and heard the whistle of the train pulling into Neuchâtel.

It was the first time I'd returned to my home in the U.S. since moving to Switzerland 15 months ago. I loved being back in our sublime little forest cottage, seeing friends, visiting the steaming summit crater, diving beneath the sea, and eating familiar foods -- fresh ocean fish, teriyaki chicken, sushi by the foot.

But it took a few days before I felt at home.

Five weeks later I was totally smitten all over again. It's comforting to have a sweet little home for us back in the States. There in the ocean, on the lava fields, in the rainforest, I thought of Switzerland all the time. Sure, it was largely due to missing Maïf, but also to missing Neuchâtel and our life here now.

I thought I'd be relieved not to have to struggle with French when I returned to the U.S., but I missed it as much as the cobblestones.

I missed "bonjour." Hawai'i really is a land of aloha, but people passing each other during the day don't normally look up and say "aloha" or anything else. Here, people passing on a lane or anywhere it's one-on-one nearly always make eye contact and say "bonjour."That makes me feel at home.

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