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8 January 2019   

DS: Last country where you were based before coming to South Africa

HE: Before being appointed Ambassador to South Africa, I was for many years based at our Headquarters in the Swiss capital city, Berne. Before that I served in Bogota, Lima, Strasbourg, San Francisco, Havana and Lagos as my very first post.

DS: Most interesting place in South Africa

HE: In August I visited Clarens in the Free State, a charming rural town surrounded by beautiful nature, with lovely shops and restaurants, ideal for a country retreat. Moreover, it has a close link to a town of the name of Clarens in Switzerland which today is a part of Montreux, hosting place of the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival. For the very first time, the inhabitants of Clarens/South Africa remembered their Swiss roots and I was invited to celebrate the Swiss National Day with them. There was a lot of dancing and singing of both South African and Swiss songs involved. A truly memorable stay for me.

DS: Your impression about South Africa

HE: A fascinating country with a rich history, breathtaking scenery and very welcoming people that every diplomat is happy to be assigned to. It is the country where milk and honey should flow once the tremendous social disparity has been successfully addressed.

DS: One place you would like to be posted to or visit

HE: We are enjoying South Africa very much and do not think of next posts yet. I have not been to all of the countries in the region. On top of my bucket list is a train ride from Pretoria to the Victoria Waterfalls.

DS: Most memorable appointment thus far

HE: I would spontaneously say Peru. It is where I met my husband 24 years ago and where part of my extended family lives.

DS: Most challenging situation that you had to handle thus far

HE: As former Director General for Corporate Resources of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I would say whenever human beings are going through a personal or professional crisis it becomes very challenging to be a decision maker. I had to listen to quite a few sad stories and then as an employer sometimes make very tough calls.

DS: My inspiration is/comes from.

HE: The positive impact that I can make with my work gives me the energy to go the extra mile.

DS: Place in your country that you love to visit.

HE: I travel extensively on a professional basis, so when I am at home I love going on excursions in my closer surroundings in the Canton of Lucerne in central Switzerland where I live. Mount Rigi is an all-time favorite for day trips also known as the Queen of Mountains. In the town of Lucerne itself, the Swiss Museum of Transport, one of the most popular museums of Switzerland, offers an exhilarating journey through the history of human mobility.    


 

DSMost interesting place to visit elsewhere

HE: I love to visit Peru. It is after Switzerland my second home and has some of the most scenic places in the world. I can recommend to anyone to go to Cuzco and visit the Inca ruins Machu Picchu. While in Peru, you should enjoy the fantastic Peruvian cooking. 

DS: Favourite dish of your country

HE:  The Swiss culinary landscape is as varied as the geographical one and I have got many favorites. But as you make me choose one I would say the Swiss Cheese Fondue. It sounds stereotypical but it is indeed my favourite Swiss dish.  

   

DSTastiest dish of another country.

HE: Peru has one of the top world cuisines. My favourite Peruvian dish is a tuna tartar which my husband and I discovered while on beach vacation in Mancora, north of Peru. In South Africa you have the best avocado and mango I have ever tasted in my life. Lawrence our Executive Chef at the Swiss residence prepares an avocado and mango salad and a Swiss chocolate mousse which are to die for.

DS: My favourite book is...

HE: Léon and Louise from Swiss contemporary author Alex Capus. It is a gripping love story during war time in Europe. Capus typically takes a historically carefully researched backdrop and then places fictitious figures in that environment.  

DS: At the moment I am reading

HE: Right now I enjoy reading “Die Launen des Tages” (The Moods of the Day) by Swiss author Arno Camenisch. We had the privilege to host Arno on his South Africa reading tour which was hugely successful. 

   

DSI enjoy listening to……   

HE: Any music with a good beat. The South African staff of the Embassy has introduced me to some amazing South African music. It has become tradition that we finish our holiday season staff party with some serious dancing to African beats.

DS: I spend my leisure time

HE: With long distance hiking in summer and downhill skiing in winter. My husband and I have walked both the Camino from Switzerland to Santiago de Compostela and the Via Francigena from Switzerland to Rome. Our next project is the Camino portugues from Lisbon to again Santiago de Compostela. In South Africa, I dedicate my very few free evenings and weekends to spending time with my husband and our three dogs Pisco, Zimba and Nazca.

DS: One sentence describing a lesson that you have learnt from being a diplomat

HE: We can get very far by talking about our differences and trying to reach common ground and constructive compromises. The culture of the compromise is one of the basic ideas Switzerland is built upon.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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September/October 2019

 
 
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