The Mystery Of The Anti-Personnel Mine In Geneva

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I was surprised when, on the way to the grocery store (it’s in the street between Migros and the Co-op at Eaux-Vives 2000 across the street), I saw this in the road.  It reads “Here laid an anti-personnel landmine.”  It stopped me dead in my tracks.  A land mine?  In Geneva?  Has anyone else noticed this?  Does anyone know anything about this?  I’d love to know who placed it there and why.

During the second world war, Geneva was virtually surrounded by nazi-occupied France.   Switzerland developed the National Redoubt plan to defend the country from the Nazis, but everyone knew that Geneva would have been left to occupying forces as it was not easily defended.  Landmines as we know them were developed during World War II (1939 – 1945).  They were widely used as anti-tank devices.  Smaller anti-personnel mines prevented the removal of anti-tank mines.   Even today, some land in France is not useable because of the mines on it.  Could it be from that period?

Since World War II the proliferation, production, sale and trade in landmines grew. Today, there an estimated 110 million anti-personnel mines in the ground around the world, another 100 million in stockpiles and 5-10 million more mines produced each year.   The Swiss Confederation signed and ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  It took effect on the 1st of January 2013.

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Grocery Shopping In France

 

I went grocery shopping in France.  It was a little bit different than in Switzerland.  The store was larger than I have become used to.  I confess, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I have gotten to know the Swiss grocery stores, but there were so many crazy French foods that I was overwhelmed trying to make sense of them all.  When I saw the butter… well, I froze.

 
There was a wall of it.  I have never seen that much butter (buerre in French).  Heck, over the course of my existence I have probably not consumed than much butter.  Actually, now that I think about it, Luciano Pavarotti probably never consumed that much butter.
 
 
I counted over 100 different types!  In actuality, I stopped counting at a hundred with more to go (including margarines).  
 
When faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of choosing the correct type of butter, I immediately started laughing at myself and whipped out my phone to surreptitiously take pictures for you. There were so many different types.  Each of the 27 regions of France must have had several of their own. Butter was salted, half salted, soft and types I can’t even remember. 
 
 
 
I ended up just picking one and hoping that our inexperience palates wouldn’t pick out the nuances of the my poor butter choice.  
 
 
 
While shopping, I saw a few familiar faces.
 
 
Your French lesson for the day géant = giant, vert = green.  Yep, it’s your old friend, the jolly green giant.
 
 
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out propre = clean and Mr. Propre is Mr. Clean.  I didn’t end up buying him.  He was more expensive than an organic herb scented cleaner.  Desole Monsieur Propre.*
 
* Desole means sorry.







 

The Case of the Exploding Banana

No room for Costco products here
The Swiss have grocery stores everywhere, neighborhoods have markets multiple times a week and there are tons of corner stores. Why?  They have small fridges.* Even when they have larger ones, they buy only their food for a day or two at a time. In the US, I shopped in bulk. I tried to grocery shop once a week, but if I still had milk and bananas I would push it.
When we arrived, I went grocery shopping for the first time. I bought the largest bunch of bananas they had because that’s what I did in the states. When we arrived home the next day, things smelled funny. I had left my new bananas near the window in the kitchen.  Several of them exploded.** When you food is picked for taste and isn’t crammed full of preservatives, it just doesn’t last as long. Go figure.

*Swiss appliances are very small. I believe the standard width is 55 cm (don’t quote me on this, I haven’t gotten out the measuring tape). Here is a link to apartment differences, including the small appliances.

**We now keep our fruit in a bowl in our entry hall because it is the darkest room in our apartment. I’d put some of it in the fridge, but it is too small.

 

 

Les Incompetents Vol. 4 – Five Hours of Grocery Shopping!

When I returned from Belgium, we had no food.  I had to go grocery shopping and stock up.  What does this mean for normal Swiss?  A trip to France. What did it mean for me? Five hours of driving around traffic circles lost and searching for a specific grocery store. D’Oh.

“Hey look kids, there’s Big Ben and there’s parliament!” I didn’t take photos as I was driving, so enjoy Clark Griswold. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAgX6qlJEMc

 

 

 

Glad We Aren’t Lactose Intolerant

I am so glad that we are not lactose intolerant.  This is a country of dairy where the cow is practically a national symbol (not to discount the goat and sheep’s milk products you see everywhere).  The Swiss do dairy.  They do it a lot.  They do it very, very well.  As a result, we find ourselves constantly trying new, wonderful dairy products.  Delightful (and tasty).  If you are lactose intolerant, you can still easily enjoy the good food here. It is of high quality and very fresh. You will just miss out on some of the abundant dairy yumminess.

To prove my point that the Swiss do a lot of dairy, I took photos of just some of the dairy in one grocery store.  Mind you there is another one across the street.  Enjoy!

P.S. I pounded not one, but two delicious youghrts for breakfast this morning and having mountian milk in my coffee. Excessive? No, just a delightful, darylicious way to start your day.
 

 

Crossing Things Off The To Do List

Moving to another country is not like moving across town.  We aren’t familiar with the lay of the land, they don’t speak English, there are different norms and everything just looks different.  We were prepared for everything to take a long time and for many problems. Fortunately the gods have been smiling on us.

Here is what we have managed to accomplish thus far:

  • got keys to apartment
  • purchased washer and dryer
  • toured gyms
  • got a tour of our neighborhood, to learn where the post office is located, met with a doctor (to have one if necessary), went to grocery stores and lots of little things like that
  • Went to the bank
  • got our phone, cable and internet set up
  • bought a special Swiss phone
  • visited the office office
  • got our yearly public transport passes

Needless to say, we are going to bed early.