The Box up the Stairs, Part Eight: Geneva and Chamonix
Geneva was my last stop in Switzerland, and once again, I enjoyed the beneficence of generous hospitality in a lavishly beautiful place. I was invited to stay with a family headed by the brother of a friend back home. My host served as the Sri Lankan delegate to the United Nations. His twelve-year-old son knew the bus system well, and he showed me around the city one afternoon. The highlight of the day’s entertainment for me was an American playing a guitar and singing, “Waltz across Texas” on a bus in downtown Geneva.
The next day, I took a tour boat, the jaunty Geneva Star, to spend some time just reading, relaxing, and eating chocolate on Lake Geneva. Afterward, my hostess took me along on some errands, and this was quite exciting, because she drove an English car with the steering wheel on the right, and Swiss roads, like all other European roads except England’s, feature driving on the right side of the road. When we arrived at a drive-up teller at her bank, she reached across the seat and rapped at the drive-up window with her umbrella. I thoroughly enjoyed this resourceful woman.
From Geneva, I dipped into Chamonix to see the French Alps. The scenery is, most literally, breathtaking. I rode a cable car through the mountains, gliding bumpily along, inches from sheer rock faces, clouds, and fields of snow that would never see a human footprint. I clung to the center pole of the cable car, focusing on how very substantial the cables themselves appeared.