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Near and far is an important concept considering my last few months of travel; I always find it interesting to find those places that feel ‘far,’ because although Switzerland is thousands of miles away from home, I never feel far away when I’m there, but there were months during the years that I lived in Boston when I felt lightyears away from home.

Below are a few of the photos that capture near and far for me, personally, taken on some of my favorite days this past summer. Near and far blend over Lake Geneva, Switzerland on a hike from Caux down to Montreux.

Foreground: spiderweb. Background: Bern, Switzerland – home to Einstein, the capital of Switzerland, and the Bern Bears

An abandoned building somewhere between Byblos and Tripoli, Lebanon

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Thinking that half a bar of dark chocolate a day is entirely reasonable.

Staring out your window and realizing that you are, indeed, in a cloud.

Staring out your window and realizing that you are, indeed, above the clouds.

Being assigned the job of interviewing a former Australian prime minister.

Being stood up by said former Australian prime minister.

Feeling exceptionally accomplished when you manage to have dinner… and then NOT go back to work afterwards.

Feeling exceptionally accomplished when you finish putting the daily programme on the screens, before dinner, without directing everyone in the house to an 8 am meeting (which takes place at 9) and 4:30 pm dinner (rather than 6:30) on Sunday when it’s actually Monday.

lovely ladies of Caux

There comes a time when you’ve been working from breakfast until midnight every night for days in a row, when your brain stops functioning, and you realize you need a day off. At this point, the slightest occurrence or slip of the tongue will send you into gales of laughter and conversation becomes unintelligible. Several of us reached that point simultaneously, and decided to officially take our day off, and let loose. I personally felt that it was an occasion to celebrate, as I successfully uploaded articles in English and Arabic, photos, the Annual Report in three languages, AND figured out the layout of the screens. (The daily programme flashes up on computer monitors so we can avoid excess printing. For some reason, the program we use was not working at all, and figuring it out was like discovering penicillin.)

Our celebration began after the evening programme, a play reading about human rights. Six of us retired to the tennis courts, where there is an amazing view of the lake, and we could talk and laugh and sing ’90s music at the top of our lungs without worrying that we were keeping the whole house awake. After exhausting my phone battery and the three ’90s songs that I have, we returned to the house, hungry. In a stroke of excitement, we saw that someone had left the kitchen lights on, and the door was unlocked. As we had recently attempted to get into the kitchen after-hours and failed, this was a miracle. As we ventured further, we found that not only was the kitchen unlocked, but so was the pantry, where all the delicious snacks (you know, yesterday’s bread, granola, yogurt) are. Overjoyed, we hurried in, feasting on fresh milk and yogurt, bread and butter, paying absolutely no attention to how much noise we were making. About two minutes into our feast, we turned around to see the night watchwoman walk in on us, at which point she proclaimed that we were, “thieves!” Thankfully, she had a sense of humor about it, and let us take our bread and honey with us. We immediately realized that the pantry hadn’t been left open by mistake or other clever thieves like ourselves, but was simply in the process of being patrolled by the night watchwoman. (Which really makes us not particularly clever thieves at all, in retrospect.)

Interns 2010

We ended our night with shisha on the terrace of Chalet Repos, a house owned by Caux, where a few of our friends are staying. The boys my intern year had all stayed there, and so the place is rich with wonderful memories and some less-than-subtle artwork.

The day off commenced with a chocolate-seeking venture to Montreux, where we perused the chocolate stocks at Migros and Denner to our hearts content, wandered the street fair of the jazz festival, walked along the waterfront, and sipped espresso in a cafe. We returned in time for lunch, and then I set off for a hike/walk up to Sonchaux with a friend. It was about an hour’s hike through narrow mountain roads, with stunning views of the lake and quaint Swiss valleys below. We reached Sonchaux, snacking on the wild berries that grow on the side of the road along the way, where there is a restaurant and children’s playground. On our return, we passed three boys who were yelling down the mountain. At first, we were worried that one of their friends had fallen, which would mean hours of searching through the narrow ravines, but eventually, between their English and our (lack of) French, we came to understand that they were gathering the goats, and that we were simply to walk over the barrier that they had put up in the road. On the rest of our walk back, we could hear the boys yelling, and the chorus of goat bells, growing steadily louder.

Although today signals a return to reality, we enjoyed a lovely and relaxed day off, taking full advantage of the weather, as the forecast is promising a rainy weekend. At the very least, we have fully replenished our chocolate stash, for the next couple of days, at least.