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a few more thoughts from experiences abroad

well, this is one of the last days from my trip that i wrote on...:)

Jan 4. (Wednesday)
Left the house ON TIME> at 8:45am. It was great!! Then we had to return to get cheese and a knife…but we were out the door on time. Haha

So, today was our day to go to see stirling castle. And I’ll be honest. It was amazing. We could actually walk around and inside buildings and grounds that were have been used and reused by royalty since the 1100s. trying to understand and experience the significance of that is mindboggling. Never have I even set my eyes on anything that really has come from that long ago. And only bible stories and history books can compare. But they mean nothing compared to actually standing on coble stone stairways that were walked on centuries ago. Even before William Wallace of braveheart. And this castle was magnificent. A castle, which was used more often as a safety fortress (as opposed to a palace that was normally lived in) was usually set either atop a hill/mountain or on an island. This castle, stirling castle, is set atop a mountain, on the highest mountain for miles around. Along most walls of the fortress a view of land can be seen for which seems to be forever. Unfortunately, it was unusually foggy this morning, and we weren’t able to see near the view that is there…however, even what we could see was phenomenal. Architecturally, the structure had been changed many times, which was obvious by differences in stone structures, additions and some rubble (and the tour guide helped point out and explain inconsistencies in building structures). But even the most recent changes (other than a main hall that had been re made to look just like it would have in the 1200’s), in some of the structures, were made by kings in the 13 and 14 centuries. Also, even in this century, the fortress was used by military, until 1964, during which time a whole protective front was added. 1964, the military finally left, and renovations and excavations have been carried out to find the true dates and stories behind all of the statues, structures, and changes. It was truly fascinating.
Now…for some, seeing a castle is cool, and then it’s over. However, when I was young…with my bro, we’d pretend to be in the ‘old days’ which was defined as nothing more than we read about or saw in movies. However, to stand in a cubby where soldiers centuries ago stood, or where women years ago stood baking bread was humbling, and even though I’m not Scottish at all, I felt a part of history…that there is a connection to this crazy thing we call life on this earth. Even more strange, then, I suppose is coming back down the hill, getting back into our little Nissan, and driving home to a house with heat, electricity, indoor plumbing, ipods and laptops. later tonight, i held a pin worn on a kilt and sporran that is older than the united states of America. Seriously, it’s older than the country I live in. It’s beyond crazy. The kilt the man had, in his house, was made of the tartan of his family line, a kilt for ‘hunting’ from back in the day…that he still owns, and wears for special occasions with pride. We as Americans (or Canadians) don’t understand what that is about. And I have a new appreciation for people from the ‘old country’ who are trying desperately to hold on to the country and culture they came from, finding themselves in the middle of a giant ‘melting pot’. Americans these days don’t have that kind of loyalty or pride or pull to their families or to their lines of heritage. Yes, I’m proud that I’m Dutch…I guess, but what does that really mean for me? Not much.
On the flip side of that…when there is so much loyalty, anyone else who isn’t part of that line is always considered ‘outside’. And while I have been treated with nothing but genuine hospitality and care while I’ve been here, I’m not Scottish and no matter how many years I’d live here, I’d always be an outsider. The US does have a sense of acceptance and validity for other cultures (even though it continues to struggle). However, I can’t imagine that any African American, Japanese or Brazilian could come here to live and feel a part of the culture here. Just as my blond hair and ‘accent’ stand out like sore thumbs, so would any difference from the Scottish culture…in small town Scotland anyways. It seemed that Glasgow and Edinburgh were much more diverse and perhaps would be more welcoming and accepting of other cultures, however with such a strong tie to one’s heritage and history…not sure how that works. Even in speaking with a couple scots tonight, it was clear that there is a ‘rival’ between Scotland and England still after all these years. They have an amazing and dramatic history and those differences are not forgotten easily.
That is not to say that I think that the people here are snobby or rude, or close minded even. Like I stated, we have been treated with nothing but warmth and kindness…however, we are visitors, and we will be returning to ‘our’ countries in time.
To get back to the day and off the tangent…after stirling castle, we went to Loch Lomond (lake lomond) to see it’s scenery. After a short stop for coffee in Lomond, and a slight ‘tour’ of the area (as we were slightly lost) we made it to the water…a beautiful sight, however foggy and cold!! We then headed to Tesco (a scottish version of Target) and bought some great alcohol…for the bottles..hehe. we then headed home to clean up and get ready for dinner with andy and marion Hamilton…where we ate spaghetti, drank lots of wine and ate a delicious chocolate cheese cake. We were able to catch up on /learn lots of Scottish history…and andy brought down his kilt and sparron, Charlie and bow tie to share!! What a treat. They were seriously such generous hosts and we had a delightful time. (yes I just said delightful…it’s so European!!) now we are back at Julie’s house to sleep, and I’m getting very sleepy.
But before I go to bed, I’m trying to remember all of the things that they say here in Scotland that is different than the states…so I’ll be adding and refining as it all comes back to me…it’s always slow I know!!
‘off in the head’ – crazy
Beany- hat/tuuk/ toboggan
Dodger – bad
Wee-little (use it all the time)
10 stone (as measurement of 14 pounds) so if someone is 10 stones, they are 140 lbs.
I’m so bad…there were tons and I don’t’ remember. Boo
k…time to sleep. One day left.. I’m sooooooo sad. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for helping with the memories. Wow, we did alot in a day when you were here:)
It was great to talk with you today-thanks for the encouragement. As things continue to unfold I pray for you. Strength in your "second" week of Internship:) You'll do great! Get some sleep to stay on top of all the craziness.

I love you always and forever,


2:56 PM  

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