By Sharma Krauskopf
This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.
In the last Lighthouse Letter, I left you as I was arriving "Over the Sea" at the Port of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. As I came off of our magnificent ship, a small town with few people lay in front of me. My next step on this journey was to catch a bus to Stornoway. I saw a couple of buses sitting in a deserted lot a short distance down the road. Not knowing what else to do I headed that direction. Reaching the buses I found the doors wide-open but no signs on either bus, posted schedules or even a driver. What do you do when there is no one to ask and no indicators of which bus was going where? After a great deal of thought I just set down hoping someone would show up. Finally, a friendly looking older lady arrived and said something to me in Gaelic. Not being a Gaelic speaker I asked in English (praying she understood) "Which bus goes to Stornoway?"
Where Eagles Fly
With a warm broad smile she answered, "The one I am getting on. Why don't you join me." And I did. People began arriving one by one. The conversation was mostly in Gaelic so I was still not sure whether I was on the right bus. The one person who had not arrived was the driver. Finally, a man came in and took the driver's seat. I rushed up to him to make sure I was on the Stornoway bus and to pay. The man assured me he was going to Stornoway and directed me to relax and enjoy the ride. (The picture of Tarbert "Transport Hub" is by Richard Webb, via Wikimedia).
I could tell by the condition of the bus it had made this trip many times before. In fact I had some reservations about whether it would make it over the mountains in front of us. Ignoring my uneasiness, I started listening to the conversations of the people surrounding me. A few of the conversations were in English so I could understand. The young man directly in front of me had just completed his schooling and exam to become a boat captain and a fisherman. I was fascinated. I never thought you went to school to captain a boat or to fish. The conversation was somewhat sad as it centred mostly on the decline of the fish and the frustration the fishermen felt.
The man across from me was carrying a huge piece of metal pipe. I listened as he told another passenger how his car had broken down on the road and he had taken the ferry to Skye to get the part for his car. It wasn't too long until the driver stopped and left him beside his stranded car.
Ahead of us were signs for a construction zone. The driver pulled the bus onto the side of the road. I wondered if there was a problem with the bus getting through the construction. He got out and began to chat with the men digging a sewer to the house near the road. They chatted away in Gaelic for about fifteen minutes. I kept wondering how we were going to keep our schedule and arrive on time. I was glad I did not have an exact time to meet someone. It was obvious catching up on the latest news was more important than when the bus got to Stornoway. It was a unique feeling for an American but I found it marvellous.
When we reached one of the more isolated areas I saw off in the distance a bird which looked gigantic. I watched it as it flew toward us. As it got closer I realized this was not a sea gull but a huge bird with a immeasurable wing span. I asked the fellow in front of me "What is that bird?" He looked out the window and said "Why it is just a golden eagle." and turned back to his conversation with the bus driver. "Just a golden eagle!!" I thought. I had never seen one and this one seemed to be following the bus. A couple of times it flew over the bus and its shadow drifted slowly from one side to another. It was without doubt one of the most stunning birds I had ever seen.
As we neared the edge of Stornoway the eagle left us as if to say the town was for people not birds. The bus dropped me off at the ferry terminal where I was to meet the rental car agent. I spotted him sitting on the car talking to a friend. At least the car didn't have a big sign on it saying "Rental Car". One thing I did not like in Scotland sometimes they marked rental cars. I always felt foolish driving a car that advertised to everyone I was a tourist. After signing all the necessary paper work, he handed me the keys. Because he had not mentioned it I inquired what I should do with the car when I returned from the lighthouse. He said just leave the keys in it and he would pick it up in the morning. Can you imagine how this American felt when he said just leave the keys in the car. Things were certainly different here on Lewis. I liked the slow pace and the friendliness of the people. It felt good to be where you could leave the keys in the car. Most of all it felt good to be on Lewis.
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