"We don't see things as they are,
we see them as we are."
~ Anais Nin
"Spirit says you will take peyote tonight." This was the message from the medicine cards to a Tarahumara friend of mine many years ago. She was an adult and I was a kid in high school. Our unplanned afternoon conversation carried us through the evening and into the early hours of the morning, baring our souls and covering topics even the most inspired artist could not have predicted. The meaning of the card was clear. Although we had indulged in no mind-altering substances, we might as well have. We had gone on a journey together.
People have always been central to my travel experiences. I had dreamt of traveling to Egypt for ages. When I finally experienced the pyramids, the Temple of Hatshepsut, King Tut's tomb, and Abu Simbel, it was satisfying on a soul level to have accomplished a goal. What made it touching and memorable, though, were the individuals with whom I connected, however briefly, while there. The same thing happened recently in Nottingham. It's so fresh that it's still resonating when I wake up in the morning, sip tea, or sit in front of my computer.
(Click on any photo for a larger and clearer version.)
Working together with strangers comes naturally on the canals.
Of all the senses, it's said that scent is the one most closely connected with memory. Other than a lovely whisky liqueur and a few agriculturally based wafts (*cough* cows *cough*), I don't remember too many distinctive odors on my trip through the Highlands. Photos, especially of the small details, are the things that most accurately evoke the feelings I had at the time. But before I get into that, we need a soundtrack!
Music became a huge part of my experience in the Highlands. Interspersed between stories, Eddie included a wide variety of music to complement our travels. One band, in particular, stands out: Runrig.
Formed in 1973 on Skye and named after a style of croft holdings ("running ridge"), their music is described as "Celtic rock". The first time I heard them was the morning of our day on Skye, heading out to Uig Bay and the Faerie Glen. The context had a profound influence on how I now perceive the music, so it may not have the same effect on you. The scenery plus the melody – including the fact that the song mentioned autumn leaves falling while, in fact, they were! – really made it magical.
The Highlands are filled with bens (mountains), glens (valleys), and lochs (lakes), most of which have several hundreds of years of stories to go with them. Clans and kings, religious leaders and Viking conquests, faeries, heroic acts, betrayals, and lots of cattle thieving make for great storytelling. Many of the tales are true, but a great deal of them are not. Even so, they are a lot of fun.
In Glencoe (also spelled "Glen Coe") there are three peaks known as the "Three Sisters". Elsewhere in the Highlands are the Five Sisters, another set of peaks, who were once known as the Seven Sisters – the youngest two were swept off their feet by two handsome Irishmen – but that is a tale for a different day. We stopped to take some photos. Just prior to our arrival, we had been told some of the more dramatic history of the region.
The Isle of Skye, with its sweeping, dramatic views, is peppered with hidden corners of delicate beauty. Many of these places, whether reflecting the actual beliefs of locals or just fancifcully named for tourists, carry the word "faerie" (or fairy) in the title. There are the Faerie Pools, the Faeries' Bathhouse, and the Faerie Bridge, to name a few.
Some of these places – the Faerie Bridge, for example – would not likely stand out to the casual visitor. Others, however, are so unique and distinct that one would be hard pressed not to believe in the fair folk. The Faerie Glen is one such place.
After a smashing time in London at the World Travel Market, I am up in Scotland. I'm visiting for the first time, so naturally a trip to the Highlands was in order. I'm taking a 3 day tour that passes through the Highlands and heads up to the Isle of Skye.
Because "Inverlochy" is easier to say than "Inverriver-y".
One of my more triumphant pictures of the day was from Inverlochy Castle. It's free to visit because there's not much there, but I do love old stoneworks! …and trees. And rivers. And fun framing.
Despite the cold, the weather here in London has been surprisingly cooperative – and dry! I've been exploring the surroundings with Linda from IslandMomma. We've already been to one pre-World Travel Market blogging event and have more planned. And we are sharing a cute apartment in Hackney, courtesy of HomeAway.co.uk.
"Keep Calm and Relax"
I have brought the big camera with me, but am avoiding carrying it around on the underground. Planning to use it more once I get to Scotland (can't wait!). In the meantime, here are a few peeks at some things around London, as seen via smartphone. :)
1. a. A set of principles of right conduct. 1. b. A theory or a system of moral values: "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain"(Gregg Easterbrook).
2. ethics (used with a sing. verb) The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.
3. ethics (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics.
There is not much in there about law; it seems to focus on that vague and ever wobbly idea of "morals." Since morals, customs, and philosophy are so subjective, how do you decide when to take a questionable picture or not? And once taken, do you share it, or just keep it for yourself?
As a Capricorn, I am meant to love and adore rules.
Let me tell you why I'm asking this. Y'see, over the years, I've gotten to be less tolerant of blindly following rules, but more sensitive to the rights of individuals. While I understand that there are some rules legitimately in place for reasons I might actually support if I knew what they were, usually it's… well, pretty darned dumb.