Monday, October 8, 2012

The best thing I did in Scotland

The traffic on early Sunday morning wasn't one to wish for if you want to reach your goal quickly. Only after around 10 minutes of waiting did I spot the first vehicle looming out of the mist. To my dismay, it turned out to be driving instructor car, so I refrained from even holding my "GOOD PERSON" sign up, certain that an unexperienced driver wouldn't be allowed to pick up a hitchhiker. How surprised I was to see the driver pull over.
"The thing is, it's not me who's the student, it's Jenny and I'm the driver, so you're in safe hands. This car has to be in Aberdeen very fast, so now I'm speeding."
"Don't mind, I'm a fast driver too... although still license-less."

My destination was Inverurie. Going to Aberdeen would have worked fine, but having hitchhiked A93 for countless times and being bored to death with its predictability, I deflected myself from this course of action. And then my driver suddenly changed his mind... "I have a lot of time today, so I can take you all the way to Inverurie and then go to Aberdeen." I lapped up his offer and couldn't have been any luckier. The man, instead of taking the main road to Inverurie, trudged up ever-tighter turns along tiny country roads barely the width of 2 meters, allowing me to seize the last opportunity to take in the beauty of Aberdeenshire countryside, bright with all shades of yellow and green. Apart from the stunning scenery to behold it was also the driver's stories about people he knew and whose houses we passed that my attention was turned to.
"You see this farm right on the hill? That's where one of my really diligent student lives. He'd never sat behind the wheel before he started his lessons, then after only 21 hours he passed his test at the first go - no mistakes."
"You know the Aberdeen Angus bull? That's where they're bred, here in Alford. There's a statue of the bull at the end of the village. Once my former student who lives in this house with red garage door painted the bull gold in the middle of the night to celebrate passing his driving exam in February."
"In early '80s the woman who used to live in this house lost her cat, which was ran over by a car. So what she would do was to sit in front of the house every day and write down the license plate numbers of cars which she thought were speeding and report them to the police. But they could do nothing about it, since you need a speed gun and they can't take somebody's word for it. She did it for 20 years! She's in mental asylum now."
"The man who used to live in this mansion killed his friend in a car accident on the sharp bend we'll pass in a while and was sentenced to one year in prison for reckless driving."

We also passed places that aroused more personal memories. The house where he spent his childhood. A small primary school he attended. The sheep farm where he spent his holidays. The field where he learned to play football. Seeing the places we passed with his eyes made this short ride one of the most memorable ones I got in Scotland.

Finally in Inverurie, I literally left a part of me. It was the best thing I had a chance to do in almost two months of being here. May my 465 ml of blood save many a Scottish life. This time I handled the donation very well; nobody had to struggle with my threadlike veins and the nurse reassured me couple of times "We have the newest machines and they constantly show the blood flow, where 10 means 'excellent' and you're just over 7." In addition, I had the first chance in more than one month to speak so much Polish - with a new friend, Dorota, met on a hitchhiking group on facebook who turned out to be an au pair in Inverurie. Dorota, thanks for coming along!

Here my time in Abedreenshire comes to an end, tomorrow I'm leaving for the Highlands to explore them as much as I can with the resources that I have, that is not so much time (off to Sardinia in the beginning of November), no proper camping equipment (borrowed from a couchsurfer who's coming along with me) and not the most excellent weather at this time of they year, but with enough faith in good people to let me hope that I needn't worry too much. So, one month less at work is one month more on the road!

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