Oh my goodness lord Edinburgh rocks the socks right off my hocks.

Now that I'm well rested, well fed, and stuffed to the brim with adventures, you get an update with some substance. :)



Okay, so, the flying. First flight was kind of fun. Everyone at the airport just looooved Sentinel, my plush tiger. He got comments wherever I went. Chicago OHare airport is like freakin' Mardi Gras, I swear. There's a (replica? probably) DINOSAUR SKELETON, I mean full-on brontosaurus standing next to a souvenir stand with stuff from the Field Museum, and I had to make myself walk away because there were some wonderful plush animals and the last thing in the world I need is another plush animal (and yet I seem to always be acquiring new ones...). There's a tunnel lit with neon stringy lights that flash in colors. Another kiosk sells Native jewelry. I bought some chocolate covered raisins in a third and a Chicago-style dog in a fourth. On the holy crap long flight to London Heathrow I got seated by a window and next to a delightful woman with a touring group. The flight was fun and exciting for about three hours, and by hour four I was pretty well done with the whole plane experience but there was another three and a half hours of flight left. Was glad I had the window. Some great views. The night was especially pretty. Looking down over a city at night was like... strands of copper laid over velvet, dotted with silver and gold and twinkling diamonds. During the day, the nature aerial views are more impressive, but at night there is nothing to be seen except blackness and the richness of those magic lights.

Every person in customs made quips about needing a special tiger permit, which was funny. By the time I got on the third plane I didn't care if I never saw another airport again in my life, slept for most of the fifty minute trip, and couldn't wait to get my stupid bags so I could just get the hell away from anything having to do with a plane. My cousin recognized me right off which was great because I had only one not-very-clear photo of her to go by. I of course tried to get in on the driver's side, hey sweetie, you're in Europe now! XD

I was cautious with them at first but it wasn't long before I felt totally comfortable. They're a delight. Dinner was incredible, and I drank a little wine and we got really cozy with each other and had a conversation that was so refreshing and lovely. I've been here two days and already feel I might just stay forever. I know a lot can happen over a year so we'll see how things go of course, maybe with time I'll be happy enough to get back to Michigan, but no matter what I don't regret this at all. It's going to be a helluva ride. I love Edinburgh. I love Scotland. Any country that has Edinburgh in it has to be pretty great. I cannot wait to see Dumfries.

Ah me, the sights to be seen, the streets to be walked, the architecture, the views, the plants, the people! This is a place, my friends. I don't even know what to say. I could write books about the past two days. If I stayed long enough to learn more, I could write libraries. I will be back to Edinburgh at some point. Seeing Glasgow is of course also a must. And Loch Ness will be something of a pilgrimage for me, as I fell in deep love with monster stories from learning of Nessie, long long ago when I was a wee one. Coming to Scotland for a degree in folklore (with a hoped-for emphasis on stories of the macabre) is like a trip full circle in a way.

Mary King's Close was incredible. Ever hear of it? If you've heard whisper of old and possibly haunted tunnels underneath Edinburgh they were talking about Mary King's Close. History, theater, and a touch of the macabre, that's the guided tour. Our guide was amazing. The tour was fascinating. The other people on the tour didn't seem very enthused, which bit for both myself and the guide. I could gladly have just gone down there with him for a couple of hours and poked about and asked a million questions. I was the only one with questions. I wish I could have been more reactive (I know it would have pleased the guide, who was profoundly disappointed with each silence in response to his quips and startle-shouts and things) but the killjoy vibe coming off the others was kind of stifling and I didn't feel comfy with my usual oohs and ahhs and screams and "no, how cold was it?" and other customary responses. I didn't even know they HAD plaster back then, let alone plaster made with horsehair and human ash. I'd seen drawings of those raven masks worn by the plague doctors but seeing the wax man in the huge dark coat and with that deliciously eerie mask (bending over the piteously afflicted wax boy with the boils) was indescribably nifty.

I also learned more about the actual condition than I ever knew from previous historical accounts I've come across. Did you know they used to jam a red hot poker into the armpit of someone suffering from bubonic plague? That's how they cauterized the wound after lancing the boils. If you survived this treatment, your chance of overall survival (while the sickness ran its course) was roughly fifty-fifty. The boils formed over the armpit, groin, and neck... all sites of important lymph glands so I'm guessing these boils must have something to do with the lymphatic system. Many who died of plague actually died of poisoning of the blood from the wound going septic if these boils burst before the plague doctor could come. With so many others dying of shock from the burns (this was of course before anesthetic), I'm left to wonder how deadly the disease itself would have actually been if there'd been things like hygienic wound care and painkillers and reliable hydration. Probably still a lot of death but perhaps not such a scourge as it turned out to be.

The place didn't feel quite so spooky as I thought it might, but I think that was because the tour was so RUSHED! They do them every twenty minutes and they're always full so there's not really time to just take it all in, you kind of duck into a room, hear a fascinating spiel, take one last peek and then are shooed into the next bit. Certain areas feel... "heavier" than others I guess.

Edinburgh smells like history and cooking. The very streets seem to vibrate with the energy of thousands of years of civilization.

You can just walk your little self right in to Greyfriar's Kirkyard at any time of the day or night. Which I think is awesome. It's beautiful. I got photos of the statue of Bobby and the little headstone commemorating him, and also of the many offerings laid in front of the stone (everything from sticks and stones to little plush dogs). His story of loyalty beyond the grave is, of course, legendary worldwide, and I guess little Bobby has a lot of admirers. But then, Edinburgh must be full of dog lovers, because so many folks were out walking dogs!

There is a museum for everything. The one we spent the most time in was really neat and I could probably spend a day each wandering in the museums there. I learned about the Year of Homecoming and the fact that it's been something of a failure (which is entirely too bad). Why the hell would you LEAVE Scotland to begin with?! Well, I suppose I can't say that really, since the US is nice enough and here I am, people like to get out and about. But really.

I think if I'd been raised here I might've scrapped the folklore concentration and just become a full-on historian. I'd give my eyeteeth to spend a couple months doing the tour guide's job. If I'd like to become a storyteller professionally after getting this folklore degree, I'm wagering this is the place to do it. I almost think I could make a living at it... during the times when there is an influx of tourists, I most certainly could.

Well it's time for me to be off to bed! There's more wonderfulness to come on the morrow, so I've got to get rested up.

A special note to those close to me: if you are at all worried about my welfare, stop that nonsense posthaste. I have never, ever been better. Ever. This is the epitome of my life's experiences to date. Be happy for me. Be elated for me.
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