Motorcycle for a tent
To be honest, this is somewhere else

What happens when you loose your only set of motorcycle keys in Switzerland?

It happened to me, on a camping site. I hope it will never happen again!

My place to sleep when the hiking trip near the Matterhorn took place, was my tent, pitched on a camping ground in Fiesch. I had planned a very nice motorcycle Alps tour for the next day.

After having breakfast, and after having noticed to my astonishment that my legs, though rather stiff, did not hurt, I began to pack my stuff.

At that moment I realized that my keys were not where they should have been: in the pocket of my motorcycle jacket. Five minutes later I knew that they were neither in the pockets of my jeans, or in any of the pockets of any of the clothes I had brought.

Because I kept checking pockets, I decided to start a more structured approach to the problem: I went on to pack, and every item that was examined at least three times was laid next to my bike. Unfortunately, I ended up with an empty tent.


In the meantime, I had thought about the previous day, and the nagging feeling that I had felt from the beginning became more pronounced.

What had taken place was probably the following:

The previous day, on our hike, I had borrowed a small rucksack from my brother Nico. My keys had been in there, and my jacket had been sometimes in and sometimes out. During one of those rucksack-fillings I had noticed that the zipper of the rucksack was broken. At this point, my memory as to what I had done with the keys was not very clear. Had I checked whether they were still there? Had I put them into a safer place? It was obvious what had happened: I had been very stupid, and the keys had fallen out.

My crazy brother volonteered to do the hike again, but I did not believe in that plan.

One very cruel detail was that I did have a spare key with me -locked in one of the hardbags on my motorcycle, to be opened (because of BMW's attention for details) with the very same key. On the other hand, one spare key would not have been enough: the disc-lock was locked, and according to every test I have read this particular disc-lock was very hard to break.


Time to go to the police (neighbours on the camping site were already starting to search for my keys now).

Swiss people are not friendly, and this police-officer was no exception. I had given him my story in several parts, interrupted by unclear, probably very urgent, actions on his side. I tried my very best smiles, and tried to be funny about my stupidities (and all that in German!) (this may seem rather characterless, but on the other hand, it is my character, and sometimes it works very well), but he never smiled, and seemed hardly to listen to me. After a while he said that no keys were found (so he must have heard something).

This time I tried the "help me please, I'm helpless" approach, which was very easy because that was exactly how I felt. Again, he did not seem to listen but after a while he mentioned that some car with flashing lights would approach the camping site within 15 minutes.

The loss of the possibility to bring my motorcycle to life was so overwhelming for me that I really thought that some other police officer had found my keys and was now driving like mad, with flashing lights and wailing sirens, to bring me my keys. I thanked the police officer extensively, in my best German, and looked very happy. The Swiss police must have a very strange idea about Dutch women by now.


Nico and Lisa brought me back to earth by making clear that the car was an AAA car (the Swiss help for cars organisation), and that I would have to pay 100 Swiss franks (Swiss franks are very expensive) for this help (to be followed by the purchase of a new disclock and probably new locks for the hardbags). By now, I was constantly cursing myself for my stupidity, and than saying sorry to Nico and Lisa about not being very entertaining company and keeping them from doing their planned hike, etc etc.

Feeling very miserable, I decided to do something constructive, and the only thing I could come up with was packing my tent.

Now here is the lesson of this story: if you ever loose your keys when camping, look under your tent before asking for a Swiss AAA car.

But by now, my luck had turned. The AAA car was driven by the only existing friendly Swiss person. He did not laugh at me, but told me this happened at least 5 out of 10 times, and that he was always very glad because he did not like having to break things (yes, this Swiss man actually talked!).

And above that, he found out that I did not need to pay the 100 expensive franks because I am a member of the Dutch sister-organisation of the AAA.

I even had time that day to do my trip (just a little faster than I had planned).


© Copyright - Author: Sylvia Stuurman , Pictures: Ernst Anepool .
Copyright 1993-now.
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