I live surrounded by mountains, in front of a lake. The location is idyllic, wonderful. It inspires me profound peace and tranquility. Sometimes, at dawn, the day starts with low clouds covering the entire horizon and it resembles the sea, so magnificent and solemn. At last, when the clouds dissipate, I observe the other side of the lake, I see houses on the shore, roads, lights at night ... Movement and in the background the mountains. I wonder how life feels like on that side of the lake, how does this shore look like from there. What if there would also be people staring back at us. After all, it is a different country.
I think we have a better view than they do. On this side of the water, the city is a mantle on bricks laid on a hillside, to the detriment of the viewers from across the lake, whereas on the other hand, they barely have room for their backyards before the steep, rocky mountain walls reach them. Luckily for us, it makes it a beautiful panoramic.
When I lived in the gigantic Mexico City, my horizon narrowed as much as it does and the sky could only be glimpsed through the gaps between the skyscrapers. However, it did not matter wherever you looked beyond those tall constructions because as farther away as you could see, climbing to the tallest buildings, to the most outstanding volcanoes, going to the most remote places; everything was still Mexico. Only delimited, in what seemed an eternal distance, by two great oceans to the East and West, a country to the north; problematic at times, with little desire to get along, and another to the south that remained unperceived. Still, the city was so distant to all of these that it comforted you somehow to know that this vast land was one, sole and united. This landscape psychologically was perceived as liberating, freeing and compelling.
Here it is different, something is not coherent. My horizon is wide and open. My sky is almost 180 degrees. Yet so much amplitude scares me and fascinates me both at the same time, because it is a false vastness until you stumble upon the natural topographic barriers; The Alps. You can descend to the deepest valleys, admire the widest lakes, traverse the most extensive plains, that no matter how much you try, only a portion of the sky corresponds to you. Beyond belongs to others. Do borders reach the sky? If I see beyond my window it's France, if I drive a little over two hours north I'm in Germany, southeast in Italy and east in Austria ... I feel tight, swamped, tiny. The valleys suffocate me, the mountains cloister me, by the lakes I feel watched ... Therefore, this scenery makes me feel more secluded, remote, alienated.
Consequently, I want to give visibility to those who were here before me, an explanation to those who have felt this way for decades, surrounded by conflicts, threats and challenges. How is this landscape not going to affect you? Knowing that I am a few bridges away from the enemy back in the day, a few kilometers from war, under a sky so vast that I am easily accessible to be attacked, a perfect target from those who reached privileged viewpoints up in the mountains. "We must be prepared", they must have thought. And so, they did. This is their story; A complete nation prepared for the worst-case scenario. A guide to understand the paranoia of a psychology rooted for years in a fearful mindset caused by the abrupt and aggressive landscape and a centralized geographical location that has make them feel nothing but forever threatened.