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Sugar Man, Burning Man and Japan

As a birthday present, you went to see Sixto 'Sugarman' Rodriguez in concert in Zürich. He did pretty well for a 72 year old. After that a fondue exploded, landing your mate in hospital, and you scanned some photos from Japan. Normal stuff.

Rodriguez Sugarman Concert

Rodriguez was a musician from the 1970's from Detriot who's music never made it big. Unbeknownst to him, his music had an immense following in South Africa where everyone thought he was long dead after committing suicide during a concert — or so went the rumor. In 1990 someone found he was alive, leading to a documentary about his rediscovery.

Now at 72 years old and still performing live, he visited Zürich for the second time. His alternative rock style is really appealing. There was no autotuning, no pointless effects — just an old bloke with a guitar on a stage with some backup musicians.

Rodriguez concert in Zürich
Rodriguez concert in Zürich

He was escorted on stage by two assistants and basically stayed in one spot the whole time. He was dressed way too warm for the level of air conditioning running in the hall, and by the end of the show he was down to a pair or leather pants and a singlet; he did keep his hat on though.

His voice was noticeably rough for the first two songs. He was utterly overpowered by his backup at first (perhaps intentionally) but they eventually toned it down as his voiced picked up. Beside him he had a bank of small white cups from which he sipped between songs. It wasn't clear what they were — some suggested whiskey.

Half way through a girl ran onto the stage and gave him a big kiss. The security took a really long time to react, not expecting that kind of behaviour in Switzerland. The crowd was shouting we love you! to which he replied "I know it's the drink... but I love you too". It was all very cute.

Creux du Van, Fondue Explosion

Packing boxes and hiking: that was the plan for May's four-day long weekend. The weather wasn't entirely dry, so to escape the rain you jumped over the Röstigraben to Neuchâtel for a hike up Creux du Van and a night in Le Soliat. It seemed like a nice, safe thing to do.

Hiking throught the forest below Creux du Van
Hiking throught the forest below Creux du Van

The hike from Chambrelien started in a deep forest of rich green new growth and fallen old trees. April's storms had downed a lot of trees in the area, closing some hiking trails. Since the warning signs were written in French — and French is so indecisive anyway — you took them as a suggestion only and continued on your merry way.

Some unusually tame Ibex
Some unusually tame Ibex

In one open field along the way you met some Ibex grazing happily. They seemed entirely unperturbed by how close you crept, letting you take portraits photos from close up. Near the top of the crater you met some more fluffy Ibex scratching themselves against trees to rub off some of their winter coat. They were all extraordinary tame.

Creux du Van is an 1400 m round crater with 150 m high vertical walls, probably created by melting glaciers and underground erosion. It's a great view and a top picnic spot providing you don't go too near the edge... which is exactly what the walking path does. By rain, the rocks can get really slippery. Today was fine, however.

Creux du Van panorama
Creux du Van panorama

Past some cows you arrived at the hectic Le Soliat. They employed the right number of people to fill the kitchen and block the way in. Spanish shouting could be heard while waiting outside. Inside was an old kitchen with an open wood fire burning in the corner, and a dining area on the second floor above the cow stall.

Dinner was upstairs, cramped in a corner around a big old wooden table. A family sitting at the side had ordered fondue, which sat bubbling away behind Steffen. The strong flame and fierce bubbling of the fondue bourguignonne was unnerving, and the little girl had already complained several times that boiling fat was spitting on her hands. Everyone was relieved when they finally extinguished the gas burner below...

Moments later — KABOOM!! — the gas canister exploded. The fondue pot jumped, launching a fountain of boiling oil two meters into the air. Steffen sprang aside but still copped a thorough splash. He jumped out of the cramped room, taking off his shirt as he scrambled past the oil-covered tables and chairs. Unsure how bad the burn actually was, he turned asking you to check. It didn't look so good.

The Rega resuce helicopter
The Rega resuce helicopter

You took him to the showers and started with cold water. The small tiled room had three shower heads, all of which had a set water temperature (warm), so it was of little help. He sat on the bench looking pretty roughed up, while you asked at the spectators to bring ice. A helpful lady (who just happened to be a nurse) came in with icecube sheets and kitchen towels. You moistened them and both packed him all over. No one could really help more than call for an ambulance and the rescue helicopter; he wasn't about to walk home and clearly needed a hospital. Sandra brought him her jumper and a blanket since he was cold, and the nurse gave him some dry socks. Poor bastard. The only good thing that everyone agreed on was how luckily the little girl was from the other table — she could have received a face-full, which could have even been fatal.

Three ambulance paramedics arrived and joined in. Now with five people encircling poor patient the shower room was full. They had quite some equipment with them and quickly got to work checking the damage, blood pressure, temperature, pupil dilation, responsiveness to french... Bonjour. Bonjour monsieur! You mentioned speaking German, if possible, may be better. A drip bag was handed to you and a needle jabbed into the back of his hand just as the Rega arrived with a stretcher. Soon enough he was loaded up into the iconically red helicopter with Sandra and off they flew over the Creux du Van. It must have been a nice view.

Early morning on the Creux du Van
Early morning on the Creux du Van

The remaining three of you stayed the night in what Chalres described as the concentration barracks. The bunk beds had mattresses, pillows and Swiss military blankets but that was about it. The floor boards moved and squeaked, the room was freezing and at 2:30am a big group of loud idiots arrived. By 4am the snorring had reached a peak, and by 5am you'd all had enough and left. It was an unexpectedly exciting weekend.

1237 35mm Pictures

Post explosive fondue, your Sunday was spent quietly at home doing paperwork and organising pictures. It was over on year in the making, but now — finally — you have scanned all of your 35mm films from Japan into digital format!

You in Japan in 2001, Summer Mikoshi festival
You in Japan in 2001, Summer Mikoshi festival

You're right proud of yourself... and also a little amused how young you looked back then. Come to think of it, that was almost fourteen years ago — not quite half of your life so far — so it only took 3% of your time on Earth to complete the job. Bloody hell, those are some heavy statistics.