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Best Country in the World to Live

March 11, 2024 | McAvoy Lane

What Would Mark Twain Say?

Yet again, Switzerland is rated as the best country in the world to live. You might want to challenge that ranking, and ask, “Why? In all her years of neutrality all she has given us is a coocoo clock.”

I’ve only been there once myself, and only briefly to ski in the shadow of the Matterhorn at Zermatt, where I fell in love with the top of Europe, the Virgin, the Jungfrau.

Mark Twain had a similar love affair upon his 1891 encounter with the Jungfrau…

“The stranger’s first feeling, when suddenly confronted by that towering and awful apparition, is breath-taking astonishment. It is as if heaven’s gates had swung open and exposed the throne.”

As good fortune would have it, I broke a binding on one of my ski boots, and was sitting in the snow trying to fix it, when a pretty lady stopped by to offer a hand…

“Do you speak French?” she asked.

“No, I don’t speak French, I’m sorry.” I confessed, somewhat deflated.

“Well then, do you speak Italian?”

“No, I don’t speak Italian either, I’m so sorry. 

“Well then, what are you doing in Switzerland?” 

She was so nice and helpful, and I was ready to shoot myself. As it turned out, she spoke just enough English to help me get my binding fixed, whereupon we skied together, shared fondue in the lodge together, and soaked in her hot tub together at the end of a perfect Zermatt day.

Having now lived in the High Sierra for several decades, I can attest to the fact that mountain people are some of the best people on the planet. They love to ski, skate, hike, and are quickest in the world to stop and inquire when someone needs a helping hand. Even I, the Grinch who stole Christmas, has been heard to ask, “Hey, can I help you with those chains?” On the hottest day of one summer, I found myself first in line at a road construction stop, and I asked the lady with the stop sign if I could offer her a cold beer. She smiled and informed me that she was not allowed to drink on the job, but…she just happened to be on break.

I smiled, cracked a cold one for her, and she downed it in one draught. We both had to laugh and regale in the gregarious atmosphere of living in the mountains.

As is our custom, we shall leave the last word to Mr. Twain…

“This is a good atmosphere to be in, morally as well as physically. After trying the political atmosphere of the neighboring monarchies, it is healing and refreshing to breathe air that has known no taint of slavery for six hundred years, and to come among a people whose political history is great and fine, and worthy to be taught in all schools and studied by all races and peoples.”

Audio: https://open.spotify.com/show/7Fhv4PrH1UuwlhbnTT23zO

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