The other side of the tracks

All this wandering is wreaking havoc with my brain. I’m starting to forget things. Like important things. Like credit card pins, which is highly inconvenient when you live far, far away and accidentally disable your credit card. Perhaps it was an action of self preservation considering our unemployed state…(But Manolo has his first interview Monday so fingers crossed. I won’t say anything more about it as we’re a superstitious lot…) 

I hope the fact that I’m trying to squeeze a new language into my brain is the cause for everything else falling out. I’m also constantly trying to find things I’ve packed that I distinctly recall packing. Trouble is, I packed to live in our RV for a month, I packed our boxes to be shipped to Switzerland, I packed our suitcases for Switzerland and I packed up our house. So, remembering that I packed something actually gets me no closer to finding it. I packed EVERYTHING!

And now that we’re here I would have packed so differently. I’d have packed less clothing and more stuff! 


If I could have been here this month and THEN packed, that would have been brilliant. I’d have packed more dresses & skirts, obviously, but also more paper, markers, zip lock bags, scotch tape, Tupperware containers…all the things you take for granted having easy access to. I’m so embarrassed to admit this because I’m pretty sure it makes me a failure as a world traveler but I was really wishing for a Walmart the other day. 

I have become everything that is wrong with the world. 

And so instead of having these things, I need to be okay with buying some of them or doing without. The kids wanted paper for drawings. That is far from a frivolous ask. So of course the answer was yes. But I cringe at the +$13 we just spent for blank sheets of paper. And the fight the kids had over the markers because we have only 1 set of markers and sharing sucks because having your sibling become your only friend in the world is hard. 
And, because I know it is so incredibly hard, and I want so badly to make it easier, wouldn’t buying another set of markers just make it easier? 

No, it really wouldn’t. Partly because the paper blew the budget and partly because in life you need to learn how to share the bloody markers! I digress…

And then this happens and it feels okay and you think maybe, just maybe, they will turn out alright.

On a bright note today was one of my most exciting days while here. Right up there with my epic journey to the Tour de France. I finally did laundry here!! The laundry had been just out of my grasp since we arrived. Having succeeded at this task at just over the 4 week mark feels pretty darn great. It took me having to accost one of my neighbours with my terribly broken German to explain “Ich bin neu hier.” (I’m new here.) “And I just want to do laundry!” 

With their complete lack of English but a willingness to help, a team of 4 people eventually gathered and with gesturing and the random Spanish word thrown in for good measure (my go-to response when completely flustered by the lack of fluency) we finally had success. Oh the delight over these hard won battles.

Today’s most significant exploration was to see Helena’s school. It’s on the other side of the tracks – literally and figuritavely. When D announced “Ooooh, Helena, your school is scary too!” I kind of had to agree with him. The building looks pretty much the same but the setting lacks the charm D’s had. His school is in a trendy part of town (there’s an H&M about 2 blocks away) where hers would be described as industrial.  But while his was in a happier neighbourhood, there wasn’t a soul around. Nearly a dozen kids appeared in the playground while we were exploring at Helena’s, so that’s good right? Even though the play structure was covered in caution tape…? Gulp.

Helena’s school – very similar building to D’s. Formidable…
When in the industrial part of town you can often find a hockey arena. Bingo! perhaps hockey doesn’t have quite the same budget as back home…arena could use a little tlc.

I would say that the good still far outweighs the bad. I still am awestruck by the beauty around me. And I am still completely astounded by the collision of new and old, antiquated and modern.

Every wee town, or neighbourhood for that matter, has its own church. This one even had a pretty cool sun dial too.
Another old home with perfect modern renos.
They have an amazing ability to combine colour and decorative touches. Everywhere you look is another pretty front door.
A robot lawn mower! Do we have these back home? I was aware of the robot vacuum but not the mower. That’s its recharge station to the right. And just one block away it’s nothing but goats & sheep to mow the lawn.

When out and about riding through the forest trails from town to town I half expect Robinhood and his band of merry men to jump out of the bushes. It’s so storybook-like. And to answer Yogi’s question about my yodelling progress, I’ve not had any formal training yet but I do find that I’m singing the string-puppet scene from Sound of Music in my head almost always while biking. “High on a hill of a lonely goat herd, layee-o-de-layee-o-de-lay-heee-who…” (You’re welcome for putting that song in your head now. It really is the most delightful background music for your brain. Perhaps that explains why my credit card pins have escaped me.)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Julie says:

    I can’t tell you how much I LOVE reading your blog Anna! I confess to catching up on it the other day when I should have been working!! And trust me, you are not a bad traveller – I tried to have my Mom ship us zip lock bags to Jordan and we spent a great deal of time wandering around the IKEA we were lucky enough to have (not always actually shopping as it was way more expensive than at home but because it was open on Friday morning when everything else was closed, we would practice Arabic numbers looking at the price tags and they had cheap food!) And be careful what you wish for because I have already started scheming how to get to Switzerland for a visit while you are there and also before Morgan turns 2 and we have to pay for a seat for her 🙂


    1. Will cross my fingers and toes for news of a visit this way. I can only imagine your world travel challenges considering the countries you’ve spent some extended time in. I never knew a ziplock bag could be such a coveted item. It’s all about the little things!
      Thank you for reading!


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