Friday, August 17, 2007

meanwhile, up north

Off to Inverness, and on a sunny day. Mark worried that the weather would change once we got all the way up there, and that we would be leaving Edinburgh on the only sunny day it would get. Ultimately, he was kind of right to worry. But we made the trip anyway. Mark, Rick, Wes, Cara, Jaclyn, Ashley, and myself.

We took the bus up which was, for me, sort of a novelty. Last year I took the train. It goes much faster and costs a lot more, and now I know why. The bus is kind of a trial of my patience. It stops in every little village along the way, and you have to sit by odd people. I sat by this old man while we waited for some passengers to alight in some little burgh. He hadn’t responded much to my conversation until this point.

“Looks like someone’s lost a dummy.” He said. I wondered if he meant me. I looked at him, and said “Sorry?”

He pointed out the window. There was a pacifier on the ground. Pacifiers are called “dummies” here. I thought it was strange that this was the big conversation ice-breaker for him. Sadly, that was our last exciting interchange.

Inverness is a beautiful city. We walked along the river, which is black as ink, and watched men fishing for salmon right in the middle of the city. We walked down to a little island I found last year, which you get to by crossing a series of bouncy suspension bridges. We took pictures, and there was a lot of talking about hair and hairstyles, if I remember correctly. We also found the old log carved like a snake.

We had dinner at Hootenanny’s, the most Scottish restaurant in town serving the best Thai food. I always love Hootenanny’s because I remember our hoe-down last year. This year the music was more sedate, but the food and conversation were superior. We told funny stories.

After dinner we had a craving for ice-cream, so you know we went to McDonald’s for some soft serve. I had a hot-fudge sundae. So we sat and talked more. I realized that it’s fun sometimes to do nothing. To sit in random places and enjoy each other’s stories. We also saw a creepy picture of a man with bunny rabbit face-paint on. Why was he wearing that face paint, and why would he take a picture of it and post it upstairs at McDonald’s?

Mark took us to his favorite graveyard, where we saw some teenagers chasing a homeless crack dealer. What a charming sight! Like a postcard. I talked to the teenagers for a while. They were super funny. When I told them we were from the US they asked me all sorts of questions about the ghetto and Tupac. They told me how awesome they were the whole time, and bragged about how they had been chucked out of school and for what. I told them to not do drugs, and they told me about the “Glasgow smile” which is a kind of torture. Ah, the innocence of youth.

We headed home. The air was brisk. We shared a room at the hostel with two Spaniards.