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18/02/2008Warming up to mountain life
Editor Anna Tuson discovers the high-life in a small town.
It's usually when I'm preoccupied with everyday things – doing the shopping, going to the bank, getting to work on time, that I will be suddenly and completely blown away by the spectaluar beauty of my current home town.
I've been living in Anzere, Valais tucked away up in the mountains above the canton's capital, Sion for almost two months. It is a charming little village offering a lifestyle intimately close to nature in a visually magnificent region.
My breath is still taken away when I step outside and I'm hit by the extraordinary view of the imposing mountains on all sides.
And it is not just the landscape that makes Anzere so special – the people, as always, are what makes the place. Anything the village lacks in metropolitan sophistication it makes up for in small-town hospitality and friendliness.
The Coop staff now greet me like an old friend, the baker knows which bread I want before I order it (but lets me practice my carefully prepared lines anyway, straight from the BBC French phrase book), the ski lift workers invite me for coffee in their little hut, and the bus drivers always act overjoyed when they pick me up.
And they all have an amazing capacity to just talk and talk. This usually goes hand in hand with the tendency to drink and drink - at ANY time of day. I'm not sure the latter is a habit I could develop personally, but I have to admire to some extent the unrestricted freedom with which such desires are catered to.
Of course gossip also goes naturally with such a small-town lifestyle. And it sure seems to be the most popular past-time here - closely rivaled by the regular appreciation of the region's rose, blanc and rouge specialties of course.
Hours are devoted every day over morning coffees (or wine), luxuriously long lunch-breaks (more wine), and after-work drinks (wine, beer, liqueurs) to spending time together and chatting the days away.
After living in Zurich for some time, adjusting to the French-Swiss lifestyle has certainly been another experience for me. Although I was warned by many of my Swiss-German mates that things are not quite the same in this part of the country, I was still a little taken aback by the change.
I guess when you take that huge step to leave your home country for another part of the world you expect everything to be completely different and are prepared for it to some extent. But when you just jump on a train for a couple of hours it's a little more disconcerting to find yourself suddenly dealing with a different language, people and culture.
But as I'm settling into my new home I am constantly finding all sorts of delightful novelties.
And as much as I find life here a curiosity, I know that equally the locals wonder about me. They have all had the same puzzled look cross their faces as they try to figure out just what this non-French speaking kiwi girl is doing in their little village.
It's quite simple – I came to experience something a little different, and my wish has certainly been well satisfied. I could not ask for more - every day brings something new. Small-town life definitely does not equate to boredom in Valais.
Anna Tuson / Expatica
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