puppies and monks

After spending three days in a catholic hospice nestled in the snow-covered alps of Switzerland, I have decided to NEVER become a nun.

Patrick and I made it to Switzerland after a painfully long day of traveling. There are 42 of us on a study abroad with the art department of Utah State…

Three days ago we all set out for the St. Bernard Pass. Hundreds of people have crossed the pass on pilgrimage expeditions. It’s a dangerous venture…avalanches have killed many people during their treks over the pass. The weather is relentlessly brutal. So…St. Bernard built a hospice at the peak of the pass to help travelers.

We snowshoed up the pass, (which is called the Valley of Death,) and spentย three days in the hospice, living amongst the “monks.” The BBC came with us…Simon Reeve was filming a documentary on pilgrimage, so I got to have a nice conversation with him. It was inspiring and somewhat intimidating to talk to such a successful journalist…



As a service project, we spent the majority of the second day cleaning the chapel, polishing Catholic relics that were hundreds of years old. Of course Patrick got the fun job…

St. Bernard dogs used to be kept at the hospice to locate and dig out lost travelers. To keep tradition alive, the dogs are still bred and kept at the hospice in the summer. His tongue alone was about the size of my head…

When I first saw the dogs, I wanted to take one home with me. That was before I realized what he would do to my carpet, my clothes, my face…FURRRย everywhere.ย And the fact that the dog wouldn’t ever recognize me because his eye sockets drooped over his eyeballs. By the end of our visit with Bernard, I decided the monks could keep him.

We were in the little town of Martigny, just below the St. Bernard Pass. We hiked to the top of a hill to explore an ancient castle. Their were 125 steps to the top of the tower, but the view was worth the thigh-master workout to get to the top.

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After spending a few days in the hospice, I was relieved to get some fresh air and head back to our cozy cabin in Leysin. It was an incredible experience, and I enjoyed it for the most part. I learned a valuable lesson as well.


I’m just not cut out for the hospice life…


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