Maloja?? Pronounce it "mah-low-yah". You could say, we got hooked on Maloja, the “alderwoods” of the Swiss Engadin. First, there was only this picture of a snowboarder on the internet, but for some odd reason the image refused to let us sleep. Then came a deep feeling of curiosity and the unresistable urge to find out what it was all about.
We were fed up with the uninspiring organizedness of mass tourism in the posh alpine towns, bored from all the empty chitchat at party after party, weary of the fight to be seen among and belong to the "in crowd", those people, nurtured by understatement or vanity, and beautiful by law. We set out for the mountain village of Maloja , only a few kilometers away from all the buzz. We were determined to find something different. We reached the end of the steep curvy pass and came upon the most inviting, beautiful powder snow you can imagine. An untouched winter landscape, framed by pine woods and rocks.
Not a human being in sight. But where are the lifts? Finally, at a distance, we spot one - an immobile, ancient t-bar lift that only adds to the impression of this enchanted place being locked in a strange but tranquil Sleeping Beauty trance.
Not an easy walk over there, several hundred meters away. But are we going to give up now? Turn around, disillusioned and disappointed? No, not on a sparkling day like this - the sun shining, beckoning us on. Suddenly the lift operator emerges from his tiny wooden hut and lifts his arm in a warm greeting.
Seconds later he has started the motor with a rumble and is joyfully ready to attend to his task of reaching up and conveniently handing his customers the t-bars as they swoosh down from above. For us, the following hours have become legend. Whether it was the awe and respect we felt for the pure beauty of nature, or the honesty and simplicity of this enchanting place that filled us to the brim and inspired us, is hard to say.
Maybe it was the intensity of being yourself, of sharing this experience with your best friends. Maybe it was the immediateness of feeling alive in the here and now, just riding the moment.
We cherish the memory of Maloja, and, in retrospect, find it difficult to explain in its uniqueness - for us it's simply "Maloja"! More than worth the search.