I can understand raclette being one of only two dishes available on Switzerland’s National Day but chicken curry? That makes no sense at all.
Unfortunately, neither option is appealing. Curry does very little for me and I’m not keen on eating a lump of grilled cheese.
But I’m starving and this is the only restaurant open in the vicinity.
A cursory glance around me confirms that all the other diners have opted for the traditional raclette; which explains the unappetising aroma of smelly feet.
I decide to risk the curry. The rice is bland and the chicken is rubbery. Bad food really upsets me.
I’m even more upset when the bill arrives; that boil in the bag excuse for a curry cost me twenty pounds! I’m tempted to refuse. Then I realise I should have asked how much it was before I ordered it.
I also realise that having a curry and sleeping in a small tent with your (relatively new) boyfriend probably isn’t a very good idea.
Luckily I’m too tired to care. I desperately want to sleep. But it feels odd being fully clothed. And the level of effort required to toss and turn until I find a comfortable position is ridiculous.
I really don’t like the sensation of being restricted by the sleeping bag. How am I supposed to move quickly in the event of an emergency? What’s to stop some lunatic from setting our tent on fire? We wouldn’t stand a chance; we’d be frazzled.
I lean into my bag and pull out Mia’s Little Teddy. She gave him to me before I left “just in case you need hugs mummy”.
I close my eyes and try really hard to sleep. I’m finally about to drift off. Then I realise that my breathing is becoming quite laboured. I shake Jake awake, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”.
He unzips the tent – then points out that the tent has a ventilation panel. I’m still not convinced that I won’t suffocate.
I lie with my head outside the tent. At least this way I have a higher chance of survival in the event of an arson attack. Unless they set my hair on fire. Or stamp on my head.
I exhaust myself with one horrific thought after another until I eventually fall asleep.
My hair is damp from condensation when I wake up. I’m cold, wet and smelly. I sleepily make my way over to the shower block.
I make the mistake of looking in the mirror. I have incredibly puffy eyes. And my skin is blotchy. I rummage through my bag. Shit. I’ve forgotten my Talika eye therapy patches. It’ll take hours for the puffiness to subside without them.
Then I remember that I have sunglasses. And that they’re big enough to obscure half my face. Panic over.
Thankfully the shower is hot. And it stays that way for almost a whole minute. Then it’s ice cold. Cold water is supposed to be great for toning. I keep reminding myself of that as I shiver my sore arse off.
The woman in the cubicle next to me is making the whole experience even more unpleasant with her rasping cough.
And she makes the most awful noise when she gathers up the flem in her throat before spitting it out.
This means I have to stand on my tip-toes and watch the floor for any signs of floating flem; which makes washing my hair more difficult than it needs to be. And in turn makes me colder for longer.
I decide I really don't like this woman. Then she starts singing (loudly and off-key). This is possibly the worst shower experience of my entire life.
Thank god it’s over. I wrap myself in a towel and try to get dressed as quickly as possible.
The other cubicle door opens. I turn around, curious to see what this tone-deaf-gruff-sounding-flem-spitting-50-fags-a-day-woman looks like.
‘She’ is a man. A large naked man. We stare at each other for an uncomfortably long time.
I must say something to break the awkward silence “Brrr...it’s so cold isn’t it?” Shit. I involuntarily looked at his (very) small willy when I said that.
He quickly covers himself with a towel and disappears back into the cubicle.
I do feel a little (no pun intended) bad. But what exactly was he doing in the women’s shower room? And why did he come out stark bollock naked? Is he some kind of pervert?
Then another man walks in. And I realise I’m in the men’s shower room. Oh. I hurry back to the tent.
Jake drains my blisters and wraps up my toes. I strap the backpack across my bruised hips and we set off.
The pain really kicks in around the half-way mark. But I am determined to walk through it. And I’m doing quite well. Then last night’s curry starts making strange noises in my tummy.
I ask Jake how close we are to a bathroom. He checks the map. There isn’t one until we get to the refuge (which is at least two hours away).
There’s no way I can wait that long. He suggests I use my She-wee. I tell him I can’t. He asks me why. I tell him the clue is in the name. He looks confused.
I lose my patience (and my decorum) “I don’t need to wee Jake! I need to poo and I need to do it soon!”
He finds a relatively secluded area and digs a small hole. Then he keeps a look-out as I crouch over it. Oh the indignity of it all.
We’re still in the honeymoon period of our relationship. So I’ve been very careful not to fart, burp or do anything remotely unladylike in his presence. Now I’m (loudly) pooping into a hole with my trousers around my ankles.
I’m very subdued as we continue our ascent. We stop for a break and Jake pushes my hat back to kiss me. I pull it back down.
“No! I don’t want you to see my puffy eyes and my blotchy skin. It’s bad enough that you had to drain my ugly blisters, not to mention listen to me doing something in the woods that only bears should do. And I’m not a bear!”
He has a smile playing on his lips. I can tell he’s trying really hard not to laugh at me “No you’re not.”
He pulls off my hat, removes my sunglasses and plants gentle kisses all over my face “You’re beautiful and your blisters are cute”. I tell him he’s a liar “Ok. Your blisters aren’t cute but your feet are”.
I ask him if the bear in the woods incident has made me less sexy. “No..... but you did fart a lot in your sleep last night and that was kind of off-putting”.
Then he bursts out laughing. “I’m only joking!” His laughter is contagious. He pulls me towards him “Now stop being so silly and kiss me”. I do exactly as I’m told.
Then I eat lots of chocolate and the sugar rush lasts long enough to get me to the 2,500 metre Grand Col de Ferret. I feel a real sense of achievement as I happily pose for a photo with Little Teddy.
We’re about to enter my favourite country, Italy. And we’re going to spend the night in a dry refuge instead of a damp tent. Surely things couldn’t get any better?
No but as it turned out, they could certainly get a lot worse...