Dear Kentucky Hills,
Here is a little story about my first day in Scotland just for you:
My sleepy eyes followed the taxi signs out of the airport. For about ten minutes I stood at departures instead of pickups. Once I was in the right spot a kind man took my bags and stopped a taxi for me. The driver chattered a bit, but my main focus was to keep my head from bobbing up in down with exhaustion. Luckily, the scenes flickering by the window were new and exciting; enough to keep me awake. When we pulled up to the house the driver said in his Scottish accent, “Have you ever seen a house like this?” I mumbled something and stared at the aged stone and tall windows. It was like I stepped back into time. In the moment, I was waiting for Mr. Darcy to walk out of the door.
I checked in, showered, and settled. At last, I was not moving about, but able to stay in one spot for a while. The purple leafy comforter was quite inviting so I laid my head down. I made it….no, I can’t fall asleep, I thought. I opened my eyes and leapt out of bed. The only thing that would keep me awake is getting lost.
The grumbles in my stomach told me to find some food. I wandered down the streets of Dalkeith, watching the pedestrians and taking note of buildings. There was one building in particular that I noticed with its a-line structure and baby blue paint. It would make a nice little church, or a bed and breakfast I thought.
The café was quaint and hip. I sat at a table next to the window, facing the inside of the restaurant. There was an old man with a cup of tea sitting at the table across from me. Soon came in two school girls with plaid skirts and collared shirts. They ordered one plate of chips.
Bangers and mash. I had that before and liked it quite a lot so I ordered it with a cup of tea. The waitress brought out my cup of tea with a copper spoon and Biscoff biscuit first. A bit of cream and a touch of sugar is how I like it, at least that is how the Scotts like it. Truthfully, I take my tea plain, but when in Scotland, do as the Scotts do. Once the perfect quantities of cream and sugar were in I stirred my tea back and forth, the way I saw on a YouTube video about tea etiquette. I wrapped my fingers round the cup and smelled the earthy, sweet aroma. My first cup of tea in the UK. Then I took a sip and to my surprise was shocked by the saltiness. Oh my, I thought to myself, I put salt in my tea instead of sugar… is it the jet lag or is it me being a foreigner?
My stomach was full but my eyes droopier. I wasn’t quite lost yet, so I hopped on a bus. When I got off, I was in Edinburgh at the Royal mile. Up and down the streets I went gazing at the shop windows and listening to the Scottish street music. I purchased a new Claddagh with a murky green stone from a tent, then sat in a coffee shop, sipping a mocha and eating a crumbly scone. This is just the beginning, I thought to myself.
At this point it was about 6:30 pm. It would take forty minutes to get back. Finally, I would allow myself to sleep, I just had to get back to the Dalkeith house. In the café, I looked up which bus to take back to Dalkeith: the 33 or the 49. One last sip of coffee and I was off again.
There was a cluster of people at the bus stop as we waited for the buses. At this point I did not know how to read the bus signs so I stood and waited, not knowing when the bus would be there. Finally, the 49 to Roswell stopped and I hopped on.
The bus seemed to keep going and going. I began to wonder if I was on the right bus. The passengers were dwindling and soon I was the only one left up top. Then I pulled out my handy-dandy smartphone to track where I was: almost to Mayfield. I had gone too far.
Note quite sure what to do, I went down to the bottom level where a few passengers still remained. I stayed on the bus until it stopped completely. Then I asked the bus driver what to do to get back to Dalkeith. In his thick Scottish accent, he said, “You can get on the bus in front of us but it’ll take yah about forty minutes.” With that I hopped on the bus in front and waited for its engines to start.
I had a peace during the bus ride. I watched the scenery flicker through the windows and knew I would make it back to the Dalkeith house eventually.
A sign for Dalkeith passed the window so I immediately hopped up to get off. The bus rolled away when I realized I didn’t know where I was. Oh no not again, I thought.
The peace left me and I began to wander around aimlessly. My watch said 8:20pm, but my body said 2am. The only buildings around me were houses and none of them looked familiar.
So, to calm my worries about being lost forever in the streets of Scotland, I began listing off the good things I had in the moment: comfortable shoes, a warm jacket, no rain…then I saw it. The house with the a-line structure and the baby blue paint. When I first saw the house it was neatly tucked between two buildings, but on this side it was completely blocked. That was it: I was on the wrong side.
After I walked past the building with the a-line structure and the baby blue paint I began to notice shops that looked familiar. Soon I was on the road to my home in Scotland. A new peaceful feeling came over me. Soon I would be in bed and then I would be on my next excursion.
Kentucky, this is just the beginning.