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The Russian was hungry. "Ach," the Russian had said at dinner the previous night, "More green salad do we not get more meat?" It was one of the four sentences I had heard Pavel utter in the approximately 60 hours I had known him. He had uttered the words in the manner the especially devout murmur prayers, with conviction, before meals, with the apparent belief that they might actually make a difference. He had uttered them as we sat down to three lunches and two dinners. Another thing he had uttered first phrase I had heard from him "Ach, surrounded by the despotic ones." He said this when we met, when he learned he would be spending a few days cycling with three Americans. In our little group were also a German, an Austrian and an Italian, and it vexed me that Pavel's historical hatred didn't seem to extend to the Axis powers that had killed millions of his countrymen not all that many years ago. It vexed me deeply.
perfect hands and call out in their native tongues, and the American, while not knowing the exact meaning of each syllable (Switzerland has four official languages, and the American speaks none of them), nevertheless would understand exactly the language of love, and the American would be so far ahead of his fellow adventurers that yes, why not stop for a cup of midmorning Swiss coffee and a little nibble of chocolate and then he would mention sign language, if he had to perhaps Heidi would enjoy a ride in the support van, where she and the American could relax and stretch out and discuss international relations and24.
I am pondering Pavel's selective xenophobia and his longing for meat because at the moment I would rather ponder anything other than my own situation, which is, I'm pedaling a bulky hybrid with a tinkly bell on its handlebar through a freezing downpour, being buffeted by gale force winds, sucking the filthy, diesel scented gusts from large trucks speeding by me on a superhighway. Also, I'm in Switzerland, which I didn't think had freezing downpours and gale force winds and superhighways. The guidebooks hadn't mentioned them. Neither had our Swiss tour guide, Robert, who, I had learned in the course of the past few days, could fib convincingly in five languages.
Another gale force wind rips through me. I am sure that my nutrient starved body is going to plunge into hypothermic shock at any second. Another truck. I ponder the impressive grouchiness of meat seeking Pavel some more and feel a kind of sympathy for him. Aren't we all, centuries old differences and blood soaked Nike Tracksuits Images
A Cycling Trip To Switzerland
The invitation to take a guided bicycle trip through Switzerland mentioned jagged, snow dusted peaks and shimmering mountain lakes. It talked about cycling through river valleys, along charming little bicycle dedicated paths, through what I was sure would be caf cobblestoned villages where chubby, white haired, lederhosen wearing burghers sat outside and stuffed their bulging guts with chocolate and cheese fondue while their daughters, apple cheeked blondes named Heidi, lined the curved and narrow village paths, gazing in misty eyed admiration at the handsome American as he knifed through the mountain air, his legs pumping like pistons, Nike Tech Fleece Windrunner White his skin radiating a kind of pantherish vitality the women had spent their dewy adolescences dreaming about but had never actually seen up close. And now it was in front of them! "Sacre bleu!" the Heidis would exclaim into their pink, perfectly formed palms, which had already milked a few cows and kneaded a bunch of loaves of nutritious Swiss bread that morning and were consequently redolent with the fumes of honest work and artisanal nourishment and clean, pure animal longing. (Or "Mein Gott," if they lived in the German speaking parts of the country.) Then the Heidis would wave those soft, Nike Hoodie Royal Blue
I had dealt with lying tour guides before, on other press trips. Any seasoned citizen of the world worth his collection of stolen hotel body lotion quickly learns that "Join us as we explore the wonders of Hawaii" really means "On Tuesday we're going Nike Running Jacket Blue
wars notwithstanding, brothers under the skin? The rain is so cold, the wind so relentless. Is my brain shutting down? I imagine Richard, already walking the streets of Lake Geneva, plunging into the exciting and expansive world of gay Swiss nightlife. My world, on the other hand, is wet, and frigid, and very, very small. I wonder how many people will come to my funeral, if the former girlfriend whose last e mail had said, "I don't know you anymore, please lose my address," will weep copious tears of regret and longing as she collapses, keening, over my casket, and if Robert or the Swiss bureau of tourism might be found criminally negligent in the matter of my death.
Robert had promised lots of things, such as bike friendly roads and easy to follow routes and good weather. I grimly tote up his lies as another supertanker hurtles by me then melts into the swirling mists of the Swiss typhoon. If the world were a just and merciful place, Robert would be the one dodging trucks and breathing exhaust and sooty rainwater on this Swiss superhighway, while I, after knocking back bar after bar of free hotel chocolate, would be stretching between edelweiss scented sheets, readying myself for a nice long afternoon nap in the capacious hotel room on the shores of Lake Geneva, where the air was clean and sparkly and the receptionists were blonde and blue eyed and friendly and preternaturally fond of Americans and where the chocolate bars were replaced many times a day.
to take an hour long jeep ride to visit a mango farm because the Maui chamber of commerce is footing the bill that allows me, your lying tour guide, to pay the airfare and food bills for you freeloading slugs and the chamber wants some publicity for mango farms, so shut up and take notes." A seasoned citizen of the world learns to hoard his energy for the free five course dinners and the beachside naps. the past couple of days, forcing us to cycle way past the civilized napping hour, and meals often involved little besides green salads, fondue and french fries.
I wasn't the only one who had learned some hard, sad truths. "I'm sick of the lies," one of my fellow Americans, Richard, had hissed to me at midday, after we had been forced to climb a mountain and to visit our fourth castle before Robert would allow us to eat lunch. Richard was based in Los Angeles and was on the trip primarily to investigate gay nightlife for a magazine back home. He put up with the cycling, but was by no means an enthusiast. Richard sounded like he was to cry as he said, "Robert promised today would be flat!"
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