For the three weeks before I went back to NI, I did a huge amount of driving around and exploring in Switzerland with Riho. So much so, that I had time to write up only maybe about one in three of our excursions, which means that there are lots of places and incidents that I have yet to share with you. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure that I remember some of them myself. Maybe I need to start keeping a journal, since my memory is decaying at an alarming rate.
Anyway, it turns out that for my remaining fortnight in this blissful place, I do not have access to a car. Just as I’d gotten the hang of driving on the right, too! But it’s fine, because I’ve done all my exploring, and I’ve got a pool to lounge beside in the sun as I write up all the outstanding blog posts. Am I going to complain?
So, using my photographs as a memory jogger, I have gone way back to the beginning. Not of time, of course, but of my adventures in the land of cheese and chocolate. ‘Twas Easter weekend, and all the sleepy little villages round these parts seemed to have practically shut down for the occasion. Fortunately, Riho stumbled upon an article about La Procession des Pleureuses, a rather unique and slightly disturbing parade (“Of Mourners”) through the streets of the small but extremely picturesque town of Romont.
Off we went in the beautiful sunshine, with a picnic lunch prepared and cameras in hand, to watch what was basically, well, a funeral procession, as you may have worked out from the name.
Romont is a beautiful, fairytale sort of place. Pastel coloured buildings, a majestic chateau, jaw-dropping views over the tranquil countryside, and an old church, which was the setting for the most unusual Good Friday service I’ve ever been to. All the local townsfolk seemed to be there, along with an impressive number of tourists for what is quite an out-of-the-way place, and a few camera crews. Clearly this annual parade attracts spectators from all over.
And really, if you were to suddenly turn around upon seeing everyone looking over your shoulder, as I did, and were greeted by the sight of a dozen or so figures cloaked in black and gliding noiselessly towards you, you too would be somewhat startled.
They went into the church, with the spectators following to make up the congregation, and after a service which seemed more like a roleplay than anything else, with different people reading out different parts of the Easter story, off they all went. Crowds lined the streets outside the church as the mourners walked slowly down the hill, each one carrying a scarlet cushion bearing a symbol of the Passion of Christ: a thorny crown, a hammer, nails, a whip…
… and led by another black-cloaked figure carrying a large cross. It was definitely interesting, but for some reason I can’t quite determine, I was oddly freaked out by the slow-moving figures veiled in black from head to toe. It was like watching the Grim Reaper coming towards you, flanked by several of his buddies, and knowing that there was nothing you could do to stop them. And it was something of a relief to leave them behind and enjoy a picnic lunch at the top of the hill, overlooking the much more cheerful-looking fields and hills and mountains and vineyards.
I don’t think it’s the sort of place you’d go to roll your Easter egg – and I certainly wouldn’t mention the Easter Bunny.