32. Last morning in Engadin

There was no rush to leave early, so we had a nice, slow breakfast with Johnny, who loved to talk about anything- sports, politics, the local history, Switzerland (Johnny is a proud Swiss!), etc. but the main thing on his mind was his son. Though his son did come by the house a couple times, he never stayed long enough for us to meet him. In an eyeblink, he was gone and over the hill to see his girl again. Johnny was worried about his only boy, Markus let’s call him. Markus was a strapping 19 yr. old who’s dream was to go to Canada and make it big in hockey.

“Is he that good?”

“Oh, he’s pretty good. He’s a star on the local team, but you know, in Canada everybody plays and the competition is tough.”

“So maybe not NHL level good.”

“Well, I doubt it, but I suppose he will have to go and find out for himself.”

What was heavy on Johnny’s mind was Markus’ apparent indifference to his studies. M was a smart kid who didn’t quite apply himself hard enough, in pop’s mind. His mother wasn’t real worried, figuring Markus would do fine, but Johnny constantly harped on the fact that M didn’t take his recent carpentry apprenticeship entrance exam seriously enough. “I asked him how it went and he just shrugged! I don’t think he passed. He didn’t take it serious enough. There was a written portion and an interview, and the interview included some questions in English. His English is good but I think he was lazy in the interview. He just doesn’t see how important this is! Without the license, you can’t make much money in carpentry, but with the license you can do quite well. (sigh)”

The night before, after dinner we went upstairs to have a beer with Johnny and meet his wife. Sophie was fun to talk to and we talked about her life in South Africa and her times in Holland with relatives. The conversation shifted to Markus and I sort of became the audience as Johnny and Sophie bickered over the future of their son. They both loved their only son but clearly had different ideas about how much to push him. Sophie would sort of shrug and say, “ahh, he’ll do fine, you’ll see.” while Johnny would shake his head, get red in the face and look over at me with a man-to-man pleading look that said, “can you believe this?”

I’d say Sophie had the advantage here because her English was better. She was comfortable while Johnny’s English suffered a bit when he got worked up.

The tension rose to an almost uncomfortable level a couple times but I could tell that Sophie was tough, and Johnny’s haranguing didn’t phase her much. Sophie, who had thick, jet-black hair and piercing blue eyes, would calmly make her case and then listen to Johnny fume, but never get excited herself. Tough ol’ Afrikaner!

After breakfast, Johnny took us for another walk. Workmen were drilling and installing a thermal heating system for a house in town. The concept is simple- drill a hole up to 120m deep and run a hose all the way down and back up. Circulate water through the hose and the water would heat up with the year-around warm rocks below and you’d never have to heat your house with electricity/oil again. It was a very expensive undertaking but over the years the savings in energy costs would pan out.


After watching the drilling operation for about a half hour, Johnny took us around town again, then left us to go for one more hike in the area, before heading out.

Another house of a well-off family. Note the post with devil’s head at top. Johnny didn’t know what that was all about.

We took a hike along the ski run that comes from the top of the lifts in Scuol. This would be the way to ski home from the local area if you were staying in Sent.

We didn’t expect to see Johnny when returned to the house to get our stuff, but as we entered and were walking to our room, I heard a hurried thud, thud, thud of feet on the old, wood stairs and Johnny came bursting into the room.

“The test! The results are in.”

“Your son’s test for the carpentry apprenticeship?”

  • Yes! Oh, it was addressed to him, but I just couldn’t help myself. I opened it and looked.
  • and?
  • He passed! I can not believe it! He really did it!
  • Wow! That’s great!
  • This mean’s he can go to the training and get his carpentry license.!
  • Fantastic!
  • You know, he must have been more serious about it than I thought. He fooled me, you know! He really did it!

Here was one proud, happy father. His joy overwhelmed him, and his worries of the night before vanished. For a moment anyway. After sharing this happy news with us and beaming with delight, he gazed toward the corner of the room and furled his brow and made a small frown. “But you know, it’s not easy. I’ll have to pay for his apprenticeship training and apartment in Zurich. It’s a big step. He’s got to take it seriously, but I just don’t know if he will.”

Johnny shook his head, wondering if his son could hack it. I tried to get the joyful feeling back.

“But he passed! You have to celebrate now!”

Johnny smiled. “Yes, that’s right! We’ll see!”


We said goodbye and promised to come back again some day. The bus to Scuol came in around noon and we got a 1 o’clock train. Our next stay would be in Buchs, just across from Vaduz, capital of Liechtenstein.

on the way

in Buchs In Buchs our hosts let us use the bicycles in the shed and ride down to the local supermaket, a German chain called Lidl. Everything was about 1/2 the price or less what we paid in Sent at the Swiss stores eatin like kings again!

this next Friends of the Bicycle place was dee-luxe, with a little pool in back

Next: Bad Ragaz

One thought on “32. Last morning in Engadin

  1. satwai November 6, 2015 / 11:53 pm

    Hmmm. I wonder how much a good carpenter makes here in the States? By the way, Danny, the pictures of course are great, but I think I like these little side stories are just as much fun. (*Especially* the true ones, whichever they might be!)

    Liked by 1 person

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