It is a common sentiment among au pairs that we find ourselves in situations that in our “real life” would not normally present themselves. My host family must know this and think of exciting things to keep me busy late at night as they are falling asleep. Then before I wake up they all swap ideas on what would be the most cumbersome/boring/potentially humiliating adventure to occupy my time that day. Maybe I’m exaggerating slightly. In any event, the parents frequently suggest attractions for me to see. I made the mistake of not going on one of these adventures when I first arrived and had to face trading glances between all of them and an uncomfortable silence. From then on, I made a mental promise to commit to what they suggest. I know that if they offer an idea for me to go to the local museum here in Laax I better come home with a program in hand ready to fill them in with all the details of the forming of this tiny town (They did in fact ask me first thing at dinner to regal them with tales of this quaint village and I was ready with artifacts and stories of townspeople thankyouverymuch).
This morning, as I’m cleaning up breakfast and the kids are running around like no one should at 8:00 AM, the Dad suggested I take a walk. I could visit the generously named “Grand Canyon of Switzerland.” I proudly knew what he was referring to as I had learned at the museum last week that Flims, Laax, and Falera were all formed by the world’s largest rockslide and this would be the result of said rockslide. He proceeded to pull out a map and mark it up, not unlike an English professor with a first year’s essay. The Dad showed me all the routes I could take and then wished me good luck. Knowing he would later quiz me on the sights I saw along the way I decided to hike for a few hours before a planned Skype date with Courtney. Little did I know the Grandma would help me out with this one.
When coming to relieve me of my morning shift, the Grandma told me about a walk she took this morning that she thought I might enjoy. Whew! This was my saving grace. If an 80 year-old woman was suggesting a nature walk, sure as heck, I am on it. I mean, how hard could it be? She told me not to bother with my heavy coat, and that it was “hot” so I should just take my skiing zip-up. I found upon returning that it was a cool 26 degrees F, which is a temperature I always consider a bit balmy. Either way, I had a map, my monster snow boots, and I was off.
I set off down the path and was cruising along when I came to a trail off to my right. It didn’t look exactly like where I was supposed to turn according to the map, but I figured it was good enough. Turns out I was way early and was technically off-roading it through the woods, despite other people’s foot prints I saw. I was hiking what can only be thought of as a 75 degree incline, seriously. By the time I managed to huff and puff my way to the top I realized I made a happy mistake. The view was out-of-bounds. Give me a pair of tennis shoes and some asphalt and I’m yours, but hiking is a different story. Apparently I will be working a little more on my fitness level. The rest of the walk was peaceful and serene. Only a few moderate inclines, nothing to complain about. I also managed to find my way back onto charted land. I kept taking random trails in the hope that I would find myself back where I started… eventually. After an hour and a half of walking I stumbled upon the pathway home and made it back all in one piece. I took off my ski hat and noticed a generous amount of hair plastered to the side of my face. So much so that I thought, “So this is what I would like with a beard.” I am honestly impressed with the Grandma’s stamina. I spent the rest of the afternoon thawing out and watching a movie–very taxing. Sure enough, when the family walked in from their day of skiing, the first question was, “So, did you go on a walk?” I was able to answer them with a definitive yes! and share with them (and now with you) some pictures of my explorations.