Saturday, July 4, 2009

Haggis Tours: Day 2

The next morning it hit me: Scotland is a country where time has very little meaning. During the summer it can be as light at five in the morning, as at noon, as at ten at night. During the winter it's as dark at nine thirty in the morning, and dark one more at three thirty at night. You can judge nothing by the sun. Even its position in the sky is normally covered by clouds. This excuse, thought, I thought would be of little use as I ran to the tour bus to get on in time.

Lunch Time of Hitchcock (or The Birds 2: The Scottish Sequel)
My fish and chips, in their Styrofoam container nearly fall over a retaining wall, into the ocean. This is the story of my lunch. But this, it would seem, is a story best served with context:

“Can we go now?!” I shouted, as the food was knocked out of my hands, only to be re-grasped before the entire motion caused me, as well, to go sailing over the wall. I cursed my luck, and the grease stains that now appeared on my shirt.

No, that wasn't far enough back. Lets try again:

“If ye are going ta be getting lunch, make sure ye watch for the seagulls.” came the warning from our driver. It was hard to know what he meant. Living where I have, I'm used to the pests trying to take food, and waiting for scraps to be tossed out to them. They were annoying, but watch out?

Perhaps that's too far back. We'll try one more time:

I was sitting on the retaining wall, overlooking the ocean, reminising about eastern Canada. A bird landed beside me. But I would not be shaken from my spot, for this truly was a place of beauty. A bird landed behind me. No, I would perservere. This was my spot, not some foolish flying creatures. Three birds circled overhead.

Remembering the words from the driver, I was ready to go. “Alright, lets leave.” I said to my lunch time partner, who had been and chatting along with me throughout the setup of this avian invasion.

“No, I don't want to go. Think of this as a cultural experience.” My demand that anything remotely cultural was to be sucked in had hit home. But what a terrible time for that to happen. The birds were still gathering, and in far greater numbers than I could imagine.

“No.” I insisted, “this is not a cultural experience. Do you see any locals here? This is a stupid tourist experience. We are fools, and the locals know it. That's why they're not here.”

“I want to stay. Look, there's a bird, take a picture of it.” There was another bird. I could see into its obsidian eyes an almost hatred of our kind. I was not about to let down my guard for a moment. I had resented to staying to placate my mealtime partner, far against my better judgment, but I was not fool enough to reach into my bag to grab my camera. As if on cue the bird started to hop, as if that would entice me. But no, I sat strong. And that's when it happened.

The attack came not from the one in front of me, but from the side, for the ones I didn't even know where there. They dived bombed me from above, slamming, with their full weight, into my chips and fish, tearing pieces when they could. Within seconds it had happened, and within seconds I had shoved myself away from the wall, recapturing my falling meal box, and moving away from the edge. The force behind them would be enough to upset anyones balance. And they had beat, on the head, with their wings she who sat beside me.

“There! Can we go now?! I shouted. And we did.

Skye High
The Isle of Skye is a place of beauty beyond expression. Now in my days of travelling, there has only been one time when the beauty of a natural location took my breath, literally away from me. It was not the majestic Lake Louise, or even Moraine Lake (both in Alberta Canada.) It was not the mountains of British Columbia, or even the vast wilderness of Newfoundland. No, it was Dinosaur National Park where, as I crested a hill, I was met with a landscape that seemed as if it shouldn't have existed. Not only was this a great cache for fossil hunters, but the grounds themselves seemed as if they should have only existed sixty five million years ago.

The same feeling came over me, as we toured through Skye Island. Unlike the beautiful desert and shrub lands that Dinosaur Park provided, this was a land before time where trees, and plants grew in abundance. Where great forests would be populated with monsters, and the sides of all mountains were not barren, but rather green covered in moss and vegetation. This was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen.

Hairy Coos
From our many stops around the island, I was able to see roads snaking off into an unending horizon, sheep playing down by the oceans edge, and Hairy Coos (better known, perhaps, as Highland Cattle) wandering roadside with their calves.

This was Scotland as I had not imagined it. And though Bill Bryson once wrote – to paraphrase here – I don't know why people always send you to the most remote locations where no one would ever live when they want you to see the “real country” it becomes obvious when standing out on the lands, taking in everything around you as it really is, void of human interference.

This was Scotland, this was the world – a far as my experience goes – at its best.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All original text and photographs Copyright © 2009 one.year.trip / previously.bitten | Theme Design by previously.bitten | Entries and Comments.Powered by Blogger