Engelberg – An Easter to remember

During Easter Vacation we went on trips to Switzerland. A colleague of my dad’s family lived there. Friends of the coworker went as well. All together there were probably 10 or 15 people in the house during these trips. My Family got the downstairs apartment and the rest stayed upstairs with the Grandparents, the owners of the house.

The view from any side of the house was breathtaking. Regardless which direction you looked, you saw the Mountains.

Here is a description I found of Engelberg and the surrounding ski possibilities:

Engelberg is a winter sport resort which delivers on all its promises – guaranteed snow cover, thrilling off-piste skiing, superb snowboard parks and vibrant après ski. It got voted the second most snow secure resort in the Alps– and it’s close to Zürich Airport.

Most Swiss ski resorts are located along the border of France, Italy, or Austria. Engelberg, a village of about 3,500 people hides in a valley right in the middle of Switzerland. While the village is postcard perfect, the mountains don’t look like much of the Alps. Imagine the Grand Canyon, with layers of horizontal rocky ledges and crenellated peaks like Hahnen that look like castle ruins. Frost it with snow. Drop in a few plateaux for the skaters and cross-country skiers, and add a glacier and a lake or two.

Engelberg also has the first revolving gondola—the 1993 Rotair—that takes skiers all the way to the top of Titlis, a 3,020-meter (10,000 feet) peak that faces north to hold its snow. The peak even offers a bar that may be needed before the dive down the black or better challenge of the infamous 1,000-meter/3,289-foot Laub of untracked snow. If that’s not enough there’s a 120-meter/395-foot ski hill and a glacier with year-round skiing.

My dad tried to balance skiing and taking small road trips so that my mom would have a vacation as well, since she didn’t ski. I was a “casual” skier, which means I only skied a few times, whereas the rest of the gang went out daily.

When I didn’t go up the mountain I went exploring within the nearby town of Engelberg or towards the opposite direction into the lesser populated area. There was also a nice, large sized play area with a lake in the middle and floats to use to get to the small island. I never went onto the floats themselves unless someone was with me. We had to use big long sticks to navigate across the water.

There was also a Grocery “Bus” as well as a Library Bus that came twice a week. It parked in a general area for people that weren’t able to get to town, or just needed small last minute things like Milk, or Butter, or Eggs. You could order books through the librarian on the bus and it would deliver it to you the next time it came around if they had it available.

Easter Sunday was always the best in my memory. They would make Fondue the night before and we would all sit around in the small kitchen and dip our breads and meats into the different type of melted cheeses and devour. The ladies were busy preparing breads and cakes and other things for the huge Easter Breakfast while the rest of us were playing board games and chat.

In the morning we all would go for a walk (if you could get me out of bed) while the moms stayed behind to play “Easter bunny” and prepare the HUGE breakfast Buffet.

I was always in a hurry to find my eggs because every Easter, the local TV channel would show a movie that came on only once a year. “The last Unicorn”! To me this was more magical than the Easter bunny hopping around. (My belief of the famous rabbit was destroyed many years prior anyways, but I kept this as a secret since I didn’t want to disappoint everyone, including the adults).

After the Initial Easter Hoopla we’d eat, and eat, and eat more… and then go for a walk, just to come back and have coffee and cake and more food and more board games.

Our Easter loots were always tripled or quadrupled, depending on how many people joined our “clan”. Not only did we get baskets from our parents, each family gave Easter baskets to the other kids as well. Oh yea, we were well taken care of. The “Family Robinson” that owned the house usually gave us big bars of Toblerone and other Swiss Delicatessen.

The trip and our stay always seemed so long, but in all reality I don’t think it lasted more than a week and a half, if even that.

We usually left the day after Easter. My sister and I had to get back to school, and my dad to work.

This is when the “Fatal” thing happened. I don’t remember what time it was, or how old I was, but it was the morning of our departure. We had breakfast with the rest of the house guests and my dad asked me and my sister to go to the playground so that he could pack up the car. This way we would get some energy out of our system for the long ride home.

We strolled to the playground. My sister jumped on one of the floats and together we went across the lake (which was only knee deep water) to the island. We played for a while until my dad came to get us. We got back on the float. When we got to the other side, Andrea, my sister asked me to hold the stake while she jumped off and I would follow while she held onto the float.

It all sounded good, until, out of unknown reasons, the float started drifting back onto the lake. I wasn’t familiar on how to “stake” around with the float so I started yelling. My dad told me to hand him the wooden stick so he could pull me closer to the shore, and I would jump off.

I thought he meant literally “Hand” him the whole thing, so I tossed it and it landed in the water as I drifted further away from their reach. I became scared because for some reason I thought the lake was huge, which it probably isn’t, but back then it seemed like it.

My dad did the only thing he could think of doing, after he scolded me for tossing the stake, and he jumped into the ICE cold water. (Remember, we were in the Alps, in April) He pulled me to shore and I leaped off the wooden raft and ran as fast as I could back to the house and into my bed and pulled the blankets tightly over my head. I KNEW I was in trouble for that one. It seemed like an eternity until I heard my dad and sister come into the entrance, and I heard my dad yelling at my mom because he was drenched, and all the cloths were packed away into the suitcases. I started crying because I was so scared.

My mom got my dad some pants out of the suitcase and he changed. She came into the room and asked me to get out from under the blankets and come and say goodbye to our friends. I didn’t want to because I felt so stupid. They kept trying to convince me to come and asked me how I would get home if I didn’t come out from under my hide away to get in the car, but nothing could move me.

The Grandpa of the house came into the room a while later and I could hear him setting something on the nightstand next to the bed, and he said goodbye to me by patting the top of the bedding. I still didn’t budge until he left the room. I finally peaked out and saw he had left me a couple bars of swiss chocolate. I was still so ashamed, when my mom came back and told me one more time to get going, I finally moved and went straight to the car. I didn’t look up once while everyone stood around saying their last and final goodbyes.

We finally got on the road, and I didn’t say anything to my dad for the longest time. I don’t remember exactly but I do believe he finally started talking to me as if nothing had happened and then later on told me that it was okay and those things happen.

That’s where my memory ends.

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