Alex had become very interested in the possibility of electricity being produced in other than the traditional methods. Having seen a Nikola Tesla demonstration by Al Smith, at Fraser Lake Camp, when he was a teenager might have had something to do with it. So when the internet opened up the world to him, he came across a Christian community in Switzerland called Methernitha, who were allegedly powering their community with a machine called Testakia. Now, with the plan to go to Europe, he decided he wanted to look them up in Linden Switzerland, which happened to be in the Emmental Valley where my ancestors were from.
On September 9, 2005 we flew from Alberta on a flight to Amstersdam with our Euro Rail tickets and passports safely stowed. I had told our Janine several years earlier that I wanted Dad and I to backpack in Europe before we were 65, and it looked like we made it with 2 years to spare. We actually didn’t have two years, because in 2007 Alex was already using a walker and was not his usual self.
How thankful I am we got to do this. He was already losing some balance and strength, Earlier that summer when he had ridden his bike out of town over to his work site, he was riding home and David his younger brother came up behind and saw Alex pushing his bike up a hill on the country road. Dave stopped and offered to give him a ride and as Alex went to throw his bike into the back, he struggled. This hit Dave hard, and he said to Alex “is the guy who only a few years ago threw huge truck tires on top of loaded trucks.?” It was such a gradual decline and painful to watch.
Back to the excitement of our descent through layers of clouds, pink from the sunset over the North Sea. We made our way out of the muggy Schiphol Airport, and meandered, sometimes in the way of cyclists, to the very busy streets, apparently in the midst of a convention that filled every hotel. In my defense, I had attempted to book a room on line for that night, but no success. So off we went walking, taking in the sights of a very busy and vibrant and orderly crowd, eating outdoors and generally having a great time. Everyone we spoke to, was so helpful, but finally, it became clear that we would find no rooms in Amsterdam. So back to the local train and we headed to Rotterdam. A group of young people, returning from a soccer game or something, were friendly, and am sure were wondering what are these people doing out at this time of night, obviously tourists and a little on the old side. Again, our lack of planning turned out without disaster, as long as you can get your attitude adjusted, which I must say my hubby was good at. “how bad could it really be?” As we got off the train in Rotterdam our young friends pointed to a Westin Hotel in view, and that is where we rolled our packs into and after having to ring the late bell, they checked us into one of the best rooms, I had ever stayed in. After a soak in their deep tub, it was a delicious sleep, might I say.
Next morning we validated our first class train tickets and picked a track heading to Barr Switzerland to see one of Janine’s friends from Victoria (from grade 7 on) who now was married to a Swiss.. We traveled in great comfort through flat watery land in Holland, seeing farms and Holstein cattle. Having passed into Germany we saw villages nestled into the folds of the rolling hills.
We got off in Frankfurt and enjoyed train station food, the most impressive, remarkably fresh vegetables and meats and cheese for a sandwich on a freshly baked bun. We got back on the ICE heading to Basel, sitting facing each other over a table with reclining chairs. . As the dusk came we saw a town called Karlsruhe, and thought this looks like a place to stay for the night and of course the hotel across the road had room for us. A room with high ceilings and best of all high windows that let fresh air flow over us. Of course the breakfast was another winner for me, every delicious thing you might desire for your breakfast.
Next night was at Joanna and Dave’s place. They lived on the second floor of his wood working shop, and I am sure those of you having visited, you know the Swiss have a penchant for neatness, even to how everyone stacks their large amounts of fire wood. Not a blade of grass out of place, and yes, every establishment seemed to have the red geranium flower boxes.
The next morning, Joanna took us to the train with specific instructions to get off in a small town and board a bus to Linden. That was a spectacular short bus ride through green well manicured hills. We got off in a tiny place and went to the hotel and asked if they had rooms in case we wanted to stay. They said yes, and let us leave our bags there, as we had a short walk to the Trigonorum, the wood factory that is supposedly powered by the Testatika, which only this group seems to know the secret. Alex boldly walked in and asked to speak to Paul Bauman, who is the man in charge. I stayed outside and took a picture of the goat, but I wish you could have heard the “silence” of the surrounding countryside, with the very very soothing tinkle of cow bells in the distance, coming from all directions. Talk about surround sound.
Meanwhile inside, Mr Bauman , appeared nervous that Alex had found him on the internet. “I thought we got it all removed ” he said. He was adamant that he would not share the secret of their technology,even though to this day there is a drawing on the internet . He said he would be happy to share about their faith and their community, but not about the machine. He said they had so much attention from world powers, and they began, I read somewhere on the site, to worry that it would get into the hands of the military.
Alex was disappointed, because his hope would be free power for the world, and what a massive step forward to eliminate poverty and aid the poor. When we walked back to the hotel, they said that they had forgotten about a booking they had made previously, and “no” we would not be able to stay.
Alex smelled a little paranoia from our brother, but we will never know for sure of course. He went home and continued to study about the possibilities, as many are today. Tesla proposed that the electricity in the atmosphere can be collected (and I see on the studies on the Testatika there seems to be that element in their secret.
I would like to believe that Alex will now have eyes and mind freed from the limitations of his physical life and many questions he had, will be answered, and one thing I know, he will enjoy the process.