#FamilyTies

STATS – Day: 70 | Distance: 12,243.6 miles | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland | Money Spent To Date – Transportation: $1,098.81 (includes airfares) | Food: $272.71 | Stay: $307.73 | Play: $189.18

I took a side trip to Lausanne, Switzerland to visit my cousin Bryce and his rockin’ family. They’ve been living in Switzerland for 20+ years and this is my FIRST visit.

A reality that’s so sad on many levels.

They live in a huge house in the country (cows, corn and linseed fields) that serves a unique function as a kind of co-op or compound. The first & second floor are the headquarters for Mercy Ships – Switzerland, a charity that both Bryce and his wife (Sam) are employed. The third floor is their living quarters along with one other family. The top floor contains studio apartments, one of which is occupied by a concert pianists from Romania (I love to hear him practice), a shared kitchen, and a laundry room used by the entire house.

There are also two levels below the main floor which contains a large banquet kitchen, conference rooms, a billiards room and a DJ dance room which has a reputation of hosting some real crazy parties.

Everyone occupying the house is responsible for its upkeep and they are numerous whiteboards with chores, visitor notices, and important information in addition to quarterly meetings.

Lausanne is on the side of Switzerland that borders France and I received a daily introduction of French cuisine of cheese fondue, fresh crepes, pâtisserie meringues with creme fraîche and berries, stews, roasts, and of course bread and wine.

A feast AND an experience all in one.

As we sat around the table Bryce would engage us all in conversation about our worst Christmas experience, best concert, favorite destination, top of the “must do list” in the next 5-years, or have an impromptu musical quiz of song title and artist. It kept our dinner activity lively and we learned more about each other.

We took a road trip to Saint Jean du Gard, a small Huguenot village near the Cévennes mountains in the south of France where Sam’s family is from.

A 7-hour drive in a van with 6 humans, a pogona (bearded dragon) and a wicker furniture set!

The Huguenots are a French Protestant denomination. Wars and persecution occurred for something like 200 years and in 1685, Louis XIV issued the Edict of Fontainebleau, removing all legal recognition of Protestantism in France. The Huguenots were ordered to convert or die. The Cévennes area became known for its resistance.

Not only are we fighters ourselves, we marry fighters as well. 

Persecution of Protestants eased up some after Louis XIV’s death. In 1787, Louis XVI signed Edict of Versailles (“Edict of Tolerance”). Two years later the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen gave Protestants equal rights as citizens again.

Our time in Saint Jean du Gard centered around family. We accomplished a host of home improvement projects for Sam’s parents and sisters. We worked, laughed and played morning until evening.

And we ate. Whoa! did we EAT!!! Dessert with every meal (I was in heaven) along with all the strong flavorful stinky cheeses, super savory dishes of beef and lamb, fresh fruits and vegetables, bread and wine.

I felt like I would never be hungry again.

My wonderful jelly rolls had given birth to more jelly rolls. Loads of Love!!!

On our last day we had a celebration. It was the 57th wedding anniversary for Sam’s parents.

DSC_4677_20160508090711511.jpg

They laugh and share that they were married the year of “Barbie’s” debut at the American Toy Fair in New York City (1959).

A marriage as old as Barbie. Now THAT’s a milestone. 🙂

“Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

Note: Bryce is the brother of my cousin Cassie who was murdered in 2014 and was a catalyst for my journey. #Gratitude and #LivingForHappiness

Next blog: “#TheOthers”

Previous blog: “#LifeStories”

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