there is something odd and almost ... magical ... about this place. it just grabs some people by the balls and refuses to let them go, so they just keep coming back year after year after year, for reasons they can't explain except to say that they have to go back to gimmelwald. there is a book on summit of one of the mountains that contains twenty years of open letters between these people who cant help coming back. for several, it is their sole means of contact. an episolatry time capsule at the top of the world.
somebody wrote on one of the walls of the hostel:
i fell in love with a girl named eliza in gimmelwald. johnny g, you were right. i'll be back.
and who should show up some two weeks later but johnny g, who has been coming back for twenty years with his guitar. he saw the message and laughted -- that has to be from one of my students, he said.
another person who cant help but come back and back again is a nutty british boy who is also working here right now.after enough time with him, i've figured out that his usual rate of hiking is approximately three units of time to every eight units of time spent by regular -healthy- people. a four hour hike becomes an hour and a half; a one hour detour is done in twenty minutes or so. one of his favorite activities is extreme ironing, and so he straps a heavy-ass bright red ironing board to his backpack and proceeds to sprint with it up the mountain. this is one of my favorite of his photos:
he knows a great deal of the local lore and modes of operation. we passed a small barn at one point and he told me, 'that builing is packed full of dynamite.'
apparently, the owner's husband, the man who complains about people being tired, is the regional expert on explosions and demolitions. at one point, joel met him at a worksite and found him, the stout swiss man that he is, working on all fours with a stick of dynamite in his mouth. as if to prove the point, a couple nights later, walter brought his video camera over to the bar and proceeded to show us a series of things he had blown up. rocks. roads. sides of hills. and then, his voice, which is usually pure testosterone, let out a series of high and girlish giggles that were kind of manic and maybe even a little bit disturbing. he has an electric wood chopper below his house, and we joked for a moment that perhaps he uses it to decapitate stupidtired tourists, giggling like a little girl the whole time. and then the joke became quite scary and our laughter was quickly arrested.
a couple of days ago he wore a t-shirt that said ' i like canadian girls.' somehow i think that helps explain him.
time passes differenly here. i feel like i have been living here since the beginning of time. i will be staying until september, and then going back to arcata for the fall.