30 Sept 2012
The Swiss have, as Paul Bilton puts it in his tongue-in-cheek Xenophobe's guide to the Swiss, a long-standing love affair with America:
It does not stop there. Donning their cowboy hats, a good number of Swiss stick the Confederate flag to the rear-view mirror and drive their custom-imported Corvettes to the shooting range on the outskirts of Zurich for the annual Albisgüetli Country Festival. They dream of riding a chopper down Route 66. It always felt rather silly to me.This is because the USA is everything that Switzerland is not. (...) The Swiss imagine Americans to be freewheeling extrovert cowboys roaming unhindered over immense tracts of unspoilt land, whilst they labor under a strict bureaucratic system and social codes that place heavy burdens of responsibility on every citizen's shoulders. The wildest thing that a Swiss can do is buying an American car, and it is surprising how many do.
But not in Bozeman, Montana. On a recent visit to friends in the Big Sky state, I was treated to a good dose of the real Wild West. There were the railroad towns with big façades fronting wooden shacks. There were diners in which grey-haired women in checkered shirts sold donuts and watery coffee (50cts each, please). There were abandoned ghost towns, which after the gold rush were simply left to decay and tumbleweeds. There were endless prairies, dotted with cattle and the odd wind-water pump. Under the big, blue Montana sky, that clichéed sensation of freedom came lives on.
Just like the Swiss wannabes, the men here wore cowboy hats and leather boots. And just like the Swiss imagine, they do ride their
The all-to-brief visit culminated in a ride in my friend's vintage biplane. And when we were up there, in the Big Sky over Montana, suddenly there was a tune coming to my mind. Yippeh-eye-eh!
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