It’s the summer of 2013. My husband, eight year old son, ten year old daughter, mother in-law, and I are traveling to the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
My husband is the first driver on the narrow roads driving on the left side of the road. We have never experienced it before.
I am screaming, not because my husband is a bad driver, but because the view from my seat appears that the chances of us colliding with another vehicle seem much more likely than say, driving Interstate 95 in rush-hour traffic.
I say to my husband, “Pull over. I need to drive. I have way too many control issues to be a passenger in this vehicle. I keep thinking we are going to hit a vehicle or run off the road.”
I drive across a bridge onto Isle of Skye. There are pull-offs for vehicles every half mile or so. I guess if you run into trouble between the pull-offs, you are out of luck, and maybe causing a traffic jam.
I drive off the road a bit. We hit something that caused a tire to blow out. Fortunately, it occurred at a pull-off.
So far, I am getting a D-Minus in driving.
We put a spare tire on, and proceed from a rather scary situation to a situation that appears as though we have entered a Lord of the Rings movie set, minus Frodo Baggins.
Lush, lime-green rolling hills, waterfalls, and the most glorious, dramatic mountains I’ve ever seen. We have arrived in paradise.
The B&B host is Morag. Her Gaelic dialect is so strong, I struggle to understand her most of the time.
The name Morag means “great”. Morag is a wonderful host.
My family drives into town for supper. My husband orders a venison burger topped with haggis.
The waitress writes down the order while I proclaim, “That’s disgusting!”
My eight year old son says, “I’m ordering the mussels. I love mussels.”
I say, “Kiddo, I’m 98.7% certain you’ve never consumed mussels.” The waitress is probably thinking it’s a high-maintenance order.
After supper, we arrive to our vehicle and discover another tire is flat.
The following day is Sunday. There are no car repair shops open. We want to explore the island.
After a delicious breakfast spread, this is what I think Morag says:
“My garment is tacky.”
What Morag actually says is that she can call us a taxi.
The taxi driver, Angus arrives at the B&B in a van to give us a tour of Isle of Skye, or as Morag calls it, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. Pronunciation: I have no clue.
A few impressive highland cattle, with their long horns and shaggy coats that hang over their eyes, greet us next to the van. I wish I had some barrettes that I could use to fasten up that hair hanging over their eyes.
Angus tells us that in the past, ferries were the only way to access the island. A bridge was built in 1995, which upset the locals because they did not want the traffic and accessibility.
Angus points out a village that is still abandoned from the Highland Clearances that started in 1750. I’ve never heard of the clearances. All I can think of to say is, “Well, that wasn’t very nice of them.” My son Charles says, “It’s very clear that this village was cleared out.”
We drive by the town Portree, a quaint waterside village lined with pastel homes the colors of a rainbow. Fishing boats line the harbor.
Angus takes us to Faerie Glen. It feels like we’ve entered another planet.
There are small round-topped grassy knolls, next to ponds, and large, spiral circles of stones. A tall rock formation juts above the lush green knolls, reigning supreme over the enchanted scene.
My kids are in heaven. They are frolicking around, running up and down the hills. I’m waiting for Bilbo Baggins to suddenly emerge from a hobbit house.
Angus was a great tour guide.
When it’s time to depart the B&B, my daughter Rose realizes she left her bag in Angus’ van.
Morag calls Angus. He says he will send his brother right over with the bag.
We wait as long as we can. We have a train to catch, so we must leave.
We’re driving down the long driveway. A car pulls up and stops. We think it’s Angus’ brother.
My mother in-law rolls down her window and says, “Are you Angus’ brother?”
A blonde woman with a husky German accent says, “YES” It sounds like “YASE!”
My mother in-law says, without pause that a blonde German woman just said that she’s the brother of Angus from Scotland, “Do you have the bag?”
The gentleman driver pulls off abruptly, turns around, stops and yells, in a German accent,
“There’s been a terrible mistake!” And, they speed away.
I laugh so hard, I could have used Depends for Uncontrollable Laughter right about then.
Morag had the bag hand-delivered to us in the town where we were staying a few hours away.
After that, I referred to her as Morag the Great!