Swiss fall

Before we knew it, it was autumn. Glorious summer was over, and the shorter, cooler days began. But we still made the most of it! We spent weekends enjoying the area, with all-season farmers’ markets and sunny afternoons.

The skating rink opened in town – a cute little covered arena that is free to the public (plus the cost of skate rental, if needed). We took the kids several times. And I enjoyed the attached “buvette” – pop-up refreshment stand that serves hot chocolate and vin chaud (mulled wine). Basically vin chaud is my favourite drink of all time. I spent most of the season looking for opportunities to visit markets and events to “sample” the various vins chauds, you know, for science.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, it was Halloween! But it’s not such a big deal here, so we kept it small. We spent an evening with our friends, which mostly turned into a vodka sampling party. You know, for science.

On Halloween proper, we did some trick-or-treating in a nearby expat neighbourhood with some other friends, and that was insanity. There were a limited number of houses actually giving out candy, and more than 100 kids running wild down the streets trying to figure out who was offering candy and who wasn’t. It was like Lord of the Flies: Candy edition. At one point, we saw a group of kids (not ours) just open up someone’s door and walk into their house… they didn’t have any candy. We wrapped up early and headed home to enjoy the spoils.

Another weekend, we made the trip into Geneva to watch a lightshow on the University buildings. It was a narrated digital projection of – basically – the journey of evolution, told from the perspective of amino acids. Sounds really fun, huh? Actually, it was very well done, with a lot of amazing images, and even audience members who couldn’t follow the French narrator enjoyed the show…

…With one caveat: from the start, there was a single, random lady at the front of the building who was dancing a sort of modern ballet routine in time with the show. She was so tiny compared to the scale of the building and the projections, it was hard to even see her. We weren’t even sure she was actually part of the event – was she just an audience member who was feeling really inspired by the role of amino acids in the formation of life?? Eventually one other tiny dancer appeared and they spent the whole show doing their interpretation of the narrative. The jury is still out about their legitimate involvement.

Other times we played football with friends, went to a hockey game, and hiked around the area. One weekend, there was a festival in Geneva – l’Escalade – which is a celebration around mid-December each year, commemorating one night in 1602 when the Genevois defeated invaders from Savoy by dumping boiling soup on them while they tried to scale the city walls. Hence, l’Escalade, which means “the climb” in French.

Nowadays, it involves getting little vegetable soup-shaped chocolates, which you smash with your fist and yell “Thus perish the enemies of the republic!” and then eat the pieces. We did that. Also, you go into the old town, eat vegetable soup on the street and watch super old army reservists shoot super old muskets in a demonstration of the Genevois prowess. Anyway, we got to see an old canon go off, so that was neat. But the mulled wine wasn’t very good – I know these things because I am a sampling expert now.

Overdue holidays

I’m trapped at work this weekend to cap off a very busy few weeks (which is why I haven’t updated in a while). Also, we had a bunch of awesome photos from our last couple of weeks on the camera, but we accidentally got it wet and now it is sitting in a bag of rice to (hopefully) be resurrected. So I don’t have anything to share except a few late photos from Halloween!

The Dread Pirate J
The Dread Pirate J
Tin Tin and Snowy
Tin Tin and Snowy
Trick or Treating at our house!
Trick or Treating at our house!
Time for some goodies!
Time for some goodies!
Wrong season at the Halloween potluck dinner...
Wrong season at the Halloween potluck dinner…

Anyway, I’m seriously due for a holiday. Luckily, my parents are coming to visit this December and we’ll be heading to Australia and New Zealand for a few weeks!

We rented a lovely little cottage in the Blue Mountains for Christmas, then we spend the week over New Years in Sydney to enjoy food, wine, fireworks. Then we fly to New Zealand and tour around the North Island for ten days, visiting beaches, hot springs, gannets, wineries and even Hobbiton!

Here’s a map to make you jealous.

Mission: drive myself to work

Completed!

Today is Saturday, which means we don’t usually have our driver and are thus trapped in the neighbourhood. But, we very much wanted to go swimming at my work. What to do? I drove!

This is a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. Everyone is nervous about the traffic when they move here. It is a weaving, confusing dance of motorcycles and angkots, plus the roads run opposite to what we’re used to. Many of our expat friends here have never driven, but many have, and do so on a regular basis. I would much rather be the latter. I’ve been chafing a bit at our dependence on a driver, and certainly it would be nice to make a quick trip to the store on our own should we need to, for example.

So today was the day! Luckily we had some friends going too, so I was able to follow behind them. I was more concerned about the directions than the driving. And actually, I didn’t find the traffic too bad. It’s busy and complex, but relatively slow and low tension. No one is in a rush here, and despite the congestion, everyone is patient. This is not to say I’m ready to drive for hours into Jakarta – we’ll be bringing our driver with us for that tomorrow!

Weekly roundup:

We haven’t posted since Halloween, mostly because nothing very exciting has happened. We did have a second round of Halloween celebrations with the school, where the kids got to “trick or treat” a bit at neighbourhood houses, followed by a dinner and dance at the school. Then last weekend, one of J’s classmates (the daughter of one of my colleagues) had a birthday party. All that partying really took it out of us!

Since then, B’s been under the weather this week with some sort of tropical stomach bug. Someone had amoebic dysentery last week, so hopefully that’s not what he has! Don’t worry, moms, it’s not. But we have heard about a few cases of dengue already starting, which is making me a little nervous. Hopefully we can make it through this season without getting it. In other news, we’re heading into Jakarta tomorrow, mostly just to buy some $10 cheerios at the import grocery store. But we might find something exciting to do while we’re there. Stay tuned!

Here are some b-roll pics from the past few posts for your viewing pleasure:

 

Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween! Which, unfortunately, in Indonesia, is not a big deal. In fact, it’s not celebrated at all. Luckily there are enough expats that we still had a little celebration of our own, complete with costumes, candies, and a haunted house!

The kids have been excited for Halloween for weeks. Ever since we moved here, LittleB has been going on and on about dressing up as a Ghostbuster, and J wanted to be the Stay Puft Marshmallow man. It seemed like a good idea until we discovered how difficult it is to find costumes here. B spent the last few weeks scouring the stores, trying to come up with things to wear. We eventually found and made enough pieces of LittleB’s costume – he went as Ray Stantz – but J’s was impossible. Instead, we found her a little dress that looked just like Tinkerbell.

Ray and Tinkerbell from the front.
Ray and Tinkerbell from the back.

B and I were another story. All he managed to find for us was a pair of capes. With a bit of face paint and creative beard shaving, I went as a sort of day of the dead creature and he went as an evil magician. I think it turned out pretty well! I know mine was good because I made a kid cry.

Evil magician.
Day of the dead.

Now, for the entertainment: one of our new friends down the street put on a very elaborate party. There were games for the kids: bobbing for apples, a very complicated string maze through the bedrooms, guess the body parts (you know, brains, intestines etc), and a whole spread of disgusting food.

A tray of poop and cups full of boogers on a stick.
Cockroaches, kitty litter, and worms in dirt
Dirty diaper dip. B couldn’t even eat it.
Tinkerbell and her friend Merida from Brave.
For this game, you had to balance an eyeball on a spoon and get it into a bucket on the other side of the room.
Decorations – I don’t know where they got the pumpkin!
Back at home, checking out the loot. Good times!

All in all, it was a great night. The kids had a great time with their friends and we filled up on poop and cockroaches.

I hope your Halloween will be just as fun!!