Happy New Year 2015 – Year-in-Review 2014: Letter to family & friends

Nevis W.I., December 12th, 2014

Dear Friends,

We again started the New Year of 2014 in our house in Nevis and as usual, we old folk stayed in there till mid-March when we took a speed boat over to Reggae Beach and a taxi to Bradshaw International in St. Kitts. This time, however, we boarded a BA flight to Gatwick from where there was an easy connection to Geneva. We even got bumped into First as they sent a 3 class plane. We for once did not complain…

In May, Willi made his usual pilgrimage to Japan to his friends and Sumo whilst Uschi drove to Kempten via the home of grand kids in Dättlikon, near Zurich, to see her relatives and friends.

It was like a homecoming of sorts although it was by Swiss International and alas not by the former so much admired Swissair with whom I landed 50 years earlier also in Haneda airport, and which at that time looked more like a shack… The past 30 years, we had to use Narita for international travel but nowadays many top airlines have returned to Haneda, just 30 minutes away from downtown Tokyo.
On a weekend, I took the Shinkansen to Kobe where Andy Müller had invited me to a Swiss BBQ on the mountain, like we had arranged so many on Mt. Futatabi in the 70’s. Their’s was a magnificent affair under a proper set up made by the authorities with good quality installed banks and fix grill equipment and most importantly, excellent grilling supplies like sausages, meat loaf, breads, salads, just absolutely professional. Unfortunately I had a little accident in going there, trying to protect some Dezaley wine on the escalator at the Crowne Plaza Hotel but all turned out well in the end though it looked terrible.

On Monday after the BBQ, I was most grateful to be allowed to visit Akihiko Otsuka who has been hospitalized in Osaka for quite a long time already; it was very important for me to make that visit. We met in the late 80’s through a business relationship which over the years developed into a friendship. When in Tokyo late in October, I tried hard to visit him again but was unfortunately not able to do so and when in LA in late November, I received the sad information that he had passed away on the 28th, I could realize why I could not visit. May “the owner”, as he was referred to, rest in peace – I will miss him.

In Tokyo, right after my arrival in May, I had lunch with my old friend Osamu Okura who had asked for an early get together as he had to undergo an eye operation the next day. I was very relieved to have his 2nd call two days before my return flight, asking me to see him once again the next day because on my day of departure, he would have to return to have the right eye done as well, the left having been successful. Later he emailed me to say that he was seeing again (actually, he had stopped using the computer ca 6 months before) and was very happy. So we were all extremely shocked when his nephew Hideki Nagano informed us on July 24, Sam’s very 84th birthday that he had quietly passed away at his desk…

Sam’s company, Nichibo Shoji, was a good client of Nestlé – especially Sam himself was the very first Nespresso distributor in late 1985 letting do us a soft start to deliver machines and capsules to the Tokyo foreign community for the Christmas season. But Nichibo is also the sole Agent for Patek Philippe so they had many mourners attending his funeral and I was asked not to come as they could not give the proper attention to me. Therefore, Uschi and I made a visit late October to attend a sort of memorial visit to Sam’s beautiful century old gravesite in the wonderful Sosanji temple in Shinjuku Ward, with his nephew and his mother. Sam, rest in peace together with Hiroko – we are missing you dearly.

Before arriving in Tokyo in late October, we were in Thailand, first in Chiang Mai where we visited Hans Bauman, formerly Kobe’s QC manager. He is now on the upswing but had been quite sick, having stayed nearly 3 months in hospital for prostate cancer treatment. Due to the strong medicine, he has lost a lot of calcium and now walks bent and with a limp – he is doing everything he can to improve as fast as possible. He even bought Nordic walking sticks, of course he eats right and takes a lot of calcium. He has a strong will and therefore is very likely to succeed.

We then flew over to Phuket where we stayed with Fabrizio Colombo whose house at the end of Patong Beach was destroyed by the tsunami in 2008 but he rebuilt it successfully. He had made contact with Max Kägi who I could no longer contact as he was in hospital with water in the lungs and also mouth so even in front of him it is very difficult to understand him. Fortunately he has a very kind middle age Thai lady mothering him and taking excellent care of him, meaning even feeding etc.

From Tokyo, we proceeded to Tahiti to make the tour of the major islands of Moorea, Raiatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora and Huahine on the 4 mast Wind Spirit. It was as we wished and got, a totally different experience than last year’s Marquesas trip on the Aranui3.
In Papeete, we were again staying at the Manava Tahiti Beach Resort introduced last year already by none other than long time and frequent visitor Andy Muller who this time was even in residence. We had a chat, and he took us downtown in his car for me to get a nano SIM card for my iPhone.

On Friday night, 21.11. Air Tahiti Nui took us to LAX from where we went to Jürg Mattman in Oceanside to pick up a Raclette oven. From Papeete we carried 2kg of Raclette cheese for Charlie and Lynn Simants in Yuma AZ, friends we made on the Wind Spirit, and also for Ed Marteka in Palm Springs who, I just found out, also suffers from prostate cancer and others and was very depressed, so we went there to cheer him up a bit. Of course we saw Pat Wanner for dinner and paid a visit to the LACMA to see our Otoman tiger there. Then on it went to Miami from where we visited Martha Murphy in her beautiful Longboatkey home, as well as Peter & Nora Hüppi, and others. Departure for Nevis is on December 12.

This year again, son Nicolas and his wife Alexandra and the 3 grandkids Leonie, Keana & Matteo will arrive on December 19th and stay for over 2 weeks when they flew over to St. Martin for 2 days on their own in a fine Beach Resort before flying home for business and school. It should become a great holiday for all of us.
In closing, Uschi joins me in wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a most wonderful, happy, successful and healthy New Year of the Goat 2015!

Willi & Uschi

*The Zurich number +41 44 586 5060 is in Switzerland and reaches us in Nevis over the Internet, if no answer, just leave a message and your number and we will call you back within 24 hours. The numbers here in Nevis are Land line +1 869 469 8818 cell Uschi +1 869 665 8322 and Cell Willi +1 869 660 2000.

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