A government that lacks friendship has no chance of reaching its goal

As I write this, with pencil and paper, I am looking up at the Großer Trögler, an alpine giant of just over three thousand metres in South Tyrol, Austria. Walking – or hiking, as it is called – with seven friends is a great experience. Rocky sand, old snow – turned light brown. Turquoise-blue lakes, sometimes with a green sheen, depending on the cloud cover, filled with fresh water from the glacier melt, which begins to flow wildly now that summer is approaching, and crashes in branching waterfalls in the valley, where it babbles silently onwards.

Through overconfidence and naivety we choose a difficult journey and on the third day we find ourselves in torrential rain on narrow paths along steep cliffs. The fog hides the mountains, but the snow-capped peaks show us their unattainable grandeur. It is so surreal that even the friend who is afraid of heights leaves his fear behind at the top of the Maierspitze.

Our group of friends has been around for about twenty years. I don’t even see most of them very often, but when we’re together, it usually doesn’t take long before the laughter starts, whether or not it’s accompanied by a bad or indirect joke.

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