“When are you leaving Zermatt?” “Friday evening”, I hear my sister answer two counters to my left. I repeat her words, when I am asked the exact same question a few seconds later. “Where are you traveling to?” “Spain!” My sister quickly corrects herself when she almost automatically wants to answer with ‘The Netherlands’. While the lady from the town hall and I can hear the conversation that is taking place right next to us word for word, I nod in agreement. “Spain”, I answer too. I can see how she rapidly moves her fingers over the keyboard. When she is done entering all the information into the computer, she walks over to the printer and hands the exact same sheet to her colleague. To finalize our leave of town, my sister and I quickly sign the pages they presented us. It is official. Our vacation has started.
After thirteen weeks of hard work, we can finally see where we stand exactly. We came to Switzerland to pay for the renovation of our house in the valley. And even though we can’t wave Zermatt goodbye for good, we can look back on a successful summer.
The swimming pool, where two men have been slogging all week, has been paid for. Both my sisters, who have made such an impression in the past summer and winter seasons, will be in charge of one of Zermatt’s most popular mountain restaurants this coming winter at an altitude of 2,600 meters. Not only a great opportunity to enhance our renovation budget, but also a wonderful chance to further develop their entrepreneurial skills. Sounds good? It is! Especially when you consider that Marc and I are allowed to take on this challenge together with them.
That Switzerland has had some unintended consequences in addition to a nice salary and a wonderful promotion however, becomes clear when we enter Bar Daniel in Pego on Sunday morning again. The owner, whom we regard as a good friend by now, welcomes us not only very warmly, but also a bit disapproving.
“You have worked way too hard this summer. I can see it. On all three of you.” He sighs kindhearted. “Flaca!” (Skinny!) The word, which I recognize from one of my many Spanish lessons in the past, is not a compliment in Spain. While he says it, we pull the waistbands of our pants for a moment. He is right. They are a little bit loose. That is not very surprising when you consider that we have all lost about five to fifteen(!) kilos since our last visit. We sit down on the terrace with a smile. None of us feel offended. It feels like coming home. Like grandma, pinching your cheeks affectionately, while she offers you a big piece of cake. “Can we start with bread with tomato?” I ask famished. Everyone nods vigorously. God, I realise, how I have missed Spain…