Sunday, September 19


I almost got stranded in downtown Geneva last night. I went to club, L'Usine (The Factory), for drum'n'bass and was dancing ecstatically but then ran out of energy and started getting foot and leg cramps as soon as I stopped jumping around. So I left, thinking it must be 2 or 2:30. I rehearsed in my mind a couple times how to ask for the time and then walked up to a guy at the bus stop and asked him "quelle huere est?" Despite my practicing, it still came out mangled. He pointed up at a huge clock, which must be at least 200 years old, on a building right next to us. It was 3:25 and so that meant only 10 minutes until the last bus to my little French village. I was just lucky I left the club when I did. I could've stayed longer.

I sat for a few minutes waiting for the bus, then thought I'd check the schedule again just to make sure I had things straight. Then I realized there were little asterisks on the times for the last two buses on my route. I looked down at the footnote and it said something like seulement vendredi--only Friday. The bus would come, but it only get me about two-thirds of the way home, leaving me about 5 km away at 4 am. I thought maybe I could go to the Paquis district, where I'd read that the boulangeries open at about 5 am for breakfast for workers. Would they open that early on Sunday morning? Or I could get a taxi, except that I'd read they're hard to find and people normally call to request a taxi. But I had no idea what number to call.

I'd already been downtown for about, oh, 16 hours that day. I went around noon to see a BMX show in the skate and bike park built on reclaimed swamplands. I'd sat in the sun all day watching the riders, who were all amateurs but were pretty good. It was all pretty low key. The riders were trying hard. It seemed like the classic male display kind of thing: do something skillful and dangerous and girls will love you. But they weren't trying too hard to put together a coherent run of moves, like what I'd seen in competitions. They'd try to do a certain move, and if they didn't get it, they'd go around and do it again, maximum three tries. A commentator would describe all the noteworthy moves. It was weird how much of it was in English. The moves--grind, nose tap, etc.--I wasn't surprised to hear in English. I'm guessing this stuff all started in the U.S. and is still way stronger over there. But then the announcer would say "one more time," "let's go," and all these other little phrases in English. And most of the music was American hip hop (Beastie Boys), dance (Prince), and metal (I'm proud I don't know who these bands were, 'cause they sucked).

After the competition I wandered around trying to find a good place to eat and hang out. I'd seen Central Perk, a cafe-bar-restaurant, right near the swamplands but thought I'd see what else was around. I'd seen the place in a list of places in Geneva to eat late night. Geneva has a weird combination of small-town sleepiness and southern European late night partying. On the weekends, at least, the restaurants and lounges are hopping until eleven at night (that's 23:00), and then the clubs open up. The club I went to, which as far as I can tell is the most popular and best in Geneva, stays open until at least 4 am and was still packed when I left at 3:30. The door charge there is actually more after 2:00. I'm used to, if anything, places lowering it late in the night to entice people to come in, but here they didn't seem to have any problem.

The place was so packed still at 3:30, it threw me off. I thought it must have been earlier. Anyway, so I was at the bus stop, I'd just realized the bus wouldn't go where I thought it would and I wasn't sure what to do. I was really tired, and I just wanted to go home. I decided to just take the bus anyway and then I'd figure it out from there. Before I got on, I asked the bus driver, "a Meyrin?" to make sure I had the right bus. He said, "Oui, a CERN," or at least that's the part I understood of what he said. I said, "Oui, merci."

I got on and thought, how'd he know I'd want to go to CERN? Maybe it was my accent, and the fact that I was going in that direction? It was big of him to offer to go there, a bit farther along the normal route than this late night bus normally goes on Saturday. When we about half way to CERN, I realized that I had just misunderstood where the bus stops. The main CERN site isn't in downtown Meyrin, but it's the closest town, and CERN calls that the Meyrin site. So, I think, the bus normally goes to CERN. But everyone around here knows CERN so it's surprising they wouldn't just say on their schedule they go to CERN... so I'm still not sure whether the guy did me a favor or not.

Either way, my walk was about half what I'd been expecting. It's about a 2 km walk from CERN to my village in France, which is totally doable. I'd walked it Friday night, when on my way home I tried adjusting my bike light and ended up breaking it. Most of the route has no lights, no sidewalk, the bike lane is all torn up for construction, and the cars drive like lightning.

So after clubbing, I made it home about 5:00, only about an hour and half earlier than if I'd just waited around for the morning buses to start again. I was hungry and I walked into the kitchen and chugged the last of my Yop, the drinkable yogurt, and then looked over and realized someone was sleeping on the futon in the living room ten feet from me. The kitchen lights were bright on her head, but she seemed oblivious. I went to bed, but then couldn't sleep so I read for a while. I probably should've just gone to a boulangerie in the Paquis. I'll do that next time, or I'll go out on a Friday instead when the bus will take me to my doorstep without having to rely on an especially friendly bus driver.


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