When I was eleven years old and didn’t yet know where life would lead me to, I had the following dream: I wanted to live in the Eifel and work there as a veterinarian. I could have known that nothing would come of it. Even then I was afraid of dogs and allergic to horses.
But one thing remained of the dream: I still love being in the Eifel. When I told you that in the morning in the virtual editorial conference, I thought I felt how some of my colleagues looked incredulous. Yes, the Eifel is considered structurally weak and maybe a bit backward. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be worth driving there. Vacation in your own country is very popular in Corona times.
Why not in the Eifel too?
Photo: Wolfgang Zwanzger / imago images
Do you know what a maar is? If you look up this now on Wikipedia, you will see a picture of the Ulmener Maars right above. There I was swimming as a child in the summer. Even back then it was clear to me that it was much cooler to splash around in the cauldron of a volcano than in a pitiful quarry pond.
Everything seems particularly far away
The Eifel is also a good destination if you want to switch off. When I was two years old, my parents built a Scandinavian prefabricated house outside of Meiserich. At first we ran over the hill into the village to call my grandparents from the phone booth. The cell is now gone and the path has been shortened: we only have to walk a few steps up the slope to get cell phone reception.
Otherwise, little has changed since then. Kites are still circling the treetops. In the evening mice scurry across the terrace and the fox roams across the grass across the garden. The neighboring children built new dams, probably with the same stones that we carried in rubber boots through the brook.
Globalization? Donald Trump? Pandemic and famine? In the Eifel, what moves the world seems particularly far away.
When I was in ninth grade, we moved to Singapore. My father got a job there and I got a whole new future. Two years in Singapore were followed by three years in Japan. I graduated from high school in Tokyo, studied in England, traveled through Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia.
I found that exciting and immensely enriching. And at the same time it was beneficial to come back to the Eifel and find out: Spiders had spun their webs next to the windows. A frog had fallen down the basement stairs and dried up. Otherwise everything was as usual.
I want to build dams with the grandchildren
We didn’t do much in the past, we were only sometimes on the summer toboggan run in Daun and in the wildlife park there. We were satisfied with climbing on hay bales in summer and roaming through the forest and hurtling down the slope next to the sheep pasture in winter.
I now know that Eltz Castle, perched on a rock between Koblenz and Cochem, has survived all wars unscathed for 850 years. I know that there is a slate mine in Mayen because there was a sea there 400 million years ago. And I know that once wealthy people lived in the half-timbered village of Monreal, who weaved fine cloths from the wool of the Eifel sheep.
I don’t know how the Eifel does in Germany-wide tourism rankings. It probably doesn’t occupy top positions there. This may be a shame for vacation home owners and restaurant operators. I’m fine with that. Then maybe I can still build dams undisturbed there with my grandchildren and walk between hay bales.