Monday, June 30, 2014

A Wee Walk in Glenelg

Glenelg, Scotland
We had the pleasure this past week of staying in the highlands and beautiful Glenelg. We met some of the nicest, most hospitable people. We went on some breathtaking “wee walks” with Eddie, our host. We also began rehearsals for our show and hosted a Ceilidh (pronounced like my name).

The highlight of the week, for me at least, was the “wee walks” Eddie took us on and all of the Scottish legends and stories that accompanied them. But understand this: when Eddie says a “walk” what he really means is a hike. And when Eddie says “wee,” its just not true. He told us our last walk was 1 mile in and 1 mile back out. We checked that. It was 5 five miles total instead of 2. But I really can’t complain because even if he’d told us it was 10 miles both ways the incredible views would have been worth it! We got to see ruins of Scottish military forts and castles while hearing stories of myths or facts of things that took place there. My favorite story was probably one of the first ones that Eddie told us. It took about two days to get all the way through and he started it not long after we got off the plane. It’s too long for me to recap here but it was the story of CĂșchulainn. Just walking along the path is breathtaking before you add in all of the awesome ruins though. There are sheep and cows everywhere, which is awesome!

On the first hike we stopped at a little wagon and coffee cart that was really neat and I know was a favorite place of a few. One of the things that makes the highlands so beautiful are the green mountains. They are literally everywhere, and on one side of the road that we had to walk everyday to get to Eddie and Donna’s house for meals, mountain starts pretty much immediately where the road ends. We hiked to the top of this mountain. And when I say the top I am not exaggerating. We hiked through overgrown plants on unseeable uneven surfaces all the way to the top. The views, again, were stunning! When we started heading back down Eddie showed us a stream that flows out of a well that as legend has it is the fountain of youth. A lot of people were excited about that and drank from it...I was a little too put off by all of the sheep around and then Eddie’s dog Bess, jumping into the river to actually drink from it. But it was really neat! My favorite day by far though was Friday, our last day in the highlands. We went to the beach, but in order to reach the beach the way Eddie took us in we had to walk a rope bridge across a river. But this wasn’t the normal rope bridge one would usually think of. It was literally a thick piece of rope strung from a tree on one side of the river to a tree on the other side, and then another rope above it that you could hang on to. I am happy to report that we all successfully made it across! Then we walked down stream to a waterfall.
Waterfall near Sandaig, West of Glenelg
This is definitely my single favorite part of the week. Caleb and Matt San Jose decided to climb to the top of the waterfall, so naturally I decided I should join and climb up an actual waterfall when I had the chance. I am so glad that I did! The waterfall was beautiful from the bottom but it was incredible being on top! There was another, much smaller waterfall up there that couldn’t be seen from the bottom. I can’t describe it nearly well enough and pictures will not do this place justice. The beach was amazing as well! With sailboats out in the harbor, Paul searching for clams, Ramine building a bonfire, Matt San Jose swimming in the freezing water, and the rest of us exploring before all coming together to eat a picnic lunch around the fire, it felt like something out of a movie or a novel more than real life.

Eddie told us, just kind of in passing, on the first or second day we were there that we were going to host a Ceilidh on Friday night. We all got pretty nervous because he was inviting people before we even knew we were doing it and none of us even knew what it was. It is a Scottish tradition of getting together and visiting and “performing” for each other. There is a host or hostess that acts kind of like an MC, but it is a very relaxed and informal event. Some people bring their instruments and just play a quick song, others will tell a story or a few jokes. It's really just a time for people to get together and visit and share their talents. Once we kind of got a handle on it everyone started getting into small groups and making preparations for what they were going to do. I was actually very nervous about it because up until literally 24 hours before I had no clue what I would do. Chandler had the idea to rewrite Twinkle Twinkle Little Star into a song about midgies. Midgies are, if you aren’t familiar with Scottish pests, these horrible tiny bugs that are actually everywhere and are not deterred by much of anything. They are the Scottish equivalent to mosquitoes, basically. The difference is they are much much smaller and they swarm and make it impossible to get away from unless you constantly move and swat. We all looked like idiots running in circles and waving our arms around all week, so needless to say everyone has a pretty passionate dislike for midgies, even the locals. Anyway, Chandler and I sang our song about midgies and everyone else performed their things, which were all pretty incredible. The night went really well! My favorite part, and I don’t think too many people would argue with me, was when one of the locals got up with his guitar and started playing a song, then another local with a guitar started playing with him, then Eddie joined the first guy with singing the song and pretty soon everyone there was singing too. It sounds so simple and not very impressive, but it was actually incredibly moving to be a part of.

I know I have said “this was my favorite part” about a million times now, but the people in Glenelg are most definitely the best thing there. Eddie is absolutely wonderful. He is so full of knowledge and stories and I am so grateful that he took the time to share some of them with us. He is also incredibly funny and fun and he introduced us to quite a few Scottish things and traditions that I enjoyed learning about. His incredible wife Donna cooked all of our meals for us while we were there and transformed her living room into a dining room that she was able to fit over 20 people in twice a day. If you know me very well you know that food is a big issue for me. Donna took all of my restrictions into consideration and made separate dishes for me and anyone else who couldn’t eat something she made for the group. Margaret and Louis were her two incredible helpers that prepared and served the meals with them. We would not have survived this past week without them! We met some of the nicest people in Glenelg too. David, a retired Church of Scotland minister there, was hilarious. He was always up for a good chat or to have us over to his house. We met many other locals at the pub who would sit and talk with us for hours or pull us up onto the dance floor and teach us how to do Scottish dances (which are super fun, by the way.) I really don’t know if you can find nicer or more hospitable people than the people of Glenelg.

I have probably gone on too long about how wonderful this last week was. I just can’t help but get excited when I think back on all of the incredible things that we did. I feel incredibly blessed to have done and seen everything we did. Not a day went by there where I didn’t feel like I had conquered the world, and I can’t think of a better group of people, both the company and locals of Glenelg, that I would have rather conquered with.

Thank you for supporting us and praying for us and keeping up with us on our blog!
-Kailee Rogers

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