Side. Bright. Looking for it.
The tea cup-sized Maltese terrier on the counter next to us was a cute - albeit brief - distraction from looking at the crowd of people waiting impatiently for their turn to be buzzed in through the glass doors.
The dog's owner was busy with an issue of her own, her orange leather jacket matching both her skin and the long, diamante-studded cowboy boots she wore.
Once let inside, the room everyone wanted to get into was dim and plain; a river of tangled electrical cords and double adaptors on the scarred vinyl floor between the high counter and the computers.
LC and I stood there uncertainly. "Parles vous Anglais?"
"A leetle beet," he smiled.
My eyes filled up with tears - not for the first time that day. This time however it was with gratitude, so I guess it was a first.
My husband started again. "My wife had her wallet stolen about an hour ago....."
It's been a hell of a week. Culture shock, exhaustion and uncaring bureaucratic restrictions have all kicked in, reminding me very clearly what an ungainly and quite literally foreign person I am in such a place, just as I thought it would. What I didn't take into account was my real - not theoretically imagined - reaction to it.
Or Sapphire's. The past few days have seen a stranger inhabit the body of the child that I thought I knew. This person is furiously angry and uncooperative and has said hateful things. On paper we all know that this is classic lashing out due to a lack of power and an understandable build-up of resentment and fear. And yet to be part of it shreds me inside and LC is just as stricken.
Saying 'sorry' a few hours later seems to be her modus operandi and it is hard for me to accept this when I'm still hurting and raw. "I feel frightened," I whispered to LC, "because I feel that my daughter is gone." What is happening to us?
At lunch when I'm too fatigued to be the grown up and let things slide and she is sulking angrily, I announce that I'm going for a walk and will meet them at the hotel later. My handbag is slung over my chest with the zips close to my body and under my hands. I can't help the way I look but I can try to not make things too easy.
The walk soothes me a bit. The sun is shining on my burnt neck and both locals and tourists are in abundance. Eating, shopping, strolling and posing for photos. The tourist centre is in the enormous post office but contains about three brochures. I give in to the thoughts that I'm ashamed of: For the so-called Home of the UN, why is nothing in English?!
With a brochure in hand but not likely to be deciphered I cross the lake and admire a medieval clock tower. Several people are also taking photos of it and I join them. The cobbled alley is bursting with people and outdoor restaurants - how do they afford the prices? what sort of jobs do these people have? where the hell do they all live? - and note with amusement that one of the busiest shops is Uggs Australia.
I take a deep breath and slow down. I know we'll get through this. I know that Sapphire is struggling with many more worries than me. How could she not be afraid of starting high school, let alone one in a new country? How can she not feel anxious as she joins us in our search for accommodation when we get frequently disoriented in the streets? How can she not feel lonely, stuck with just her parents when her friends are on facebook eight hours and half a world away?
Things'll get better with every day that passes. First a home; then a school place. Then French lessons.
Now though, a hat or my nose will burst open like an overripe tomato and make me the first skin cancer candidate of Switzerland.
H&M is across the road so I'll pop in there for a look around and....
Oh no. My bag is wide open. My wallet is gone.