This is the start of a new adventure.. I've spent two years living in Doha, Qatar and working as an engineer but that time is almost up and I am negotiating the beginnings of my next big challenge. I have applied and been preliminarily accepted for work with an humanitarian aid organisation. As the first step towards heading off to a project we had two weeks of training and development in Cartigny, a village just outside Genéve.
As far as training goes, this is easily the best experience I've ever had. In fact it was one of the best experiences period. The village is small. Very small. So we had a group of 19 people, from Mexico, Canada, USA, Australia, France, Swuitzerland, Germany, Austria and Czech Republic in the same hotel for 4 days in a row before we had any respite. You know what we got along great! No arguments, no disagreements or trouble... Just good humour, banter and understanding. We learnt about culture, sanitation, water supply, hygiene, neglected disease, humanitarian principles.... but I think what we each got out of it was good learning about ourselves and working as a varied and close knit group.
Personally, I arrived in Switzerland a couple of days early and went to visit a friend in Lucerne (Luzern) in the mid-north of the country. Lucerne is a beautiful city on a lake (so many are in Switzerland) and has some fantastic murals on the old houses around the town. Arriving in Lucerne after a 4.5 hour train (3 trains and a bus) journey from Genéve, I stood around in the cold waiting for Werner to arrive.. Arrive he eventually did and we went for a wander around the town, stopping off for some hand warming and stomach warming cheesey/pie type snack before climbing into a Gondola just out of town and heading above the clouds to Mt Pilatus. Here we were treated to amazing views of rocky peaks poking out through the clouds before heading back down to the city for an early dinner - more cheese and Swiss beer! - and then another 4.5 hour journey back to Cartigny.
The theme of cheese and food continued over the next 2 weeks, with croissants for breakfast then 3 courses lunch and dinner every day. The food was amazing, loads of butter, loads of cheese and loads of goodness. I think I gained 3kg in 2 weeks! Merci monsieur chef!
The fun side out of the way, I'm now on the countdown from Qatar... once I leave here there's a brief(ish) stop in Aus and then time for the next big step....