Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sick on the Isle of Skye


I woke up this morning feeling like someone had scraped the inside of my throat with a bundle of steel wool.

I'm currently curled up in my hostel with Ithaca, my quilt, and a hot water bottle tucked away in its fox cozy. I'm on my fourth cup of tea and watching an American spin around the room staring at her iPhone, trying to get reception.

I feel the kind of exhaustion where thoughts like, “Hey, I should listen to music,” get dismissed because it sounds too tiring. Being in a hostel of strangers, I waver between telling the truth when asked how I am (“I feel like crap.”) and just telling folks I'm great (which is a whole lot easier) and smiling as I've learned to do in any situation.

This is day two of being sick.

Yesterday was the honeymoon day of being sick. After over 20 days of constant going (last time I had a down-day was when I was sick) I'm back on the couch. It's a combination of catching the bug from Tasha and Lindsay and my body saying, “Whoa, girl, slow down.

So here I am.
On the Isle of Skye.
Doing nothing.

'cept blowing the snot out of my face every few minutes. That's jolly good fun.

This hostel has had a quirky way of feeling like home.

When I arrived, I was under a peculiar funk that I generally like to shake off pretty fast. But, this day, it wasn't shaking. I went for a walk. Nothing.

It was a combination of loneliness and... maybe that's all it was. I was seeking out some sort of human connection. Anything. I'd been travelling since early that morning and was just feeling worn out.

Before long, though, someone had me wrapped up in a conversation and we were heading out to sniff the sunset from the bridge. He was a climber and likes to spend time in a tent in the forest and back-country skiing.

Walking back, I ended up hanging out with some of the hostel staff and volunteers. At this hostel, folks can stay the hostel for free in exchange for two hours of work each day. I would've done it, but this hostel already has nine folks living here. It's chokful of vagabonds and giggling teenagers. The hostel manager (I think that's who she was) and another local women have champagne night every Wednesday and I felt honoured to get to take part. Sweet potato hummus dip might have been life changing.

The next day was spent cruising around the island with a duo of Portugues women who were trying to see all of Skye in a day... or as much as you could.

It was good that I did that because it would be the last day I would be getting out during my stay on Skye.

I woke up with the funk on Friday morning.

Today was my day.
Time to stay home.

I spent the day researching rats and trucks.
I tried to nap a few times.

Status Update: One thing I've never regretted taking with me on my travels is Ithaca, my quilt. It's kept me cozy on insanely long bus trips and makes every couch, floor, shed, and bed feel like home the instant I shake it out and lay it down flat. Today's a sick day for me (cheers Tasha and Lindsay) and I'm happy to have a down-day curled up in it with a hot water bottle to cuddle with. Today will be reading (Walden as suggested by Karl), writing (letters, documentations, postcards), daydreaming (Tobbit, L'Abri, Haines) and napping. Time to let this body rest. Mentally, I'm in a healthy, stable place. Was in a bit of a funk two days ago, but it only lasted a short while before fellow travellers unknowingly hoisted me out of it. No matter where I go, I always seem to feel at home as home has, for me, come to mean a mug of tea to wrap your hands around and a quilt to wrap around you. I am so grateful. eating beans on toast at Kyleakin Isle Of Skye.

That evening I was too tired to listen to music, read, browse the internet, or even sleep.

So I did what all level-headed folks would do. I headed out for a walk across the bridge.

On the walk, I met a Russian lady. We smiled and conversed.

I plugged in my iPod and trekked out into the dark.
I turned on my favourite song and danced.

I whirled and leaped and kept my toes pointed and smiled.

Every whim that took over my body was acknowledged and followed through.

I was listening to a song I used to listen to with someone who I was really close with. She has since cut me off completely. Since then, I've had a harder time listening to this song, but I decided to. I hope she's having a beautiful life.

I find it amusing (not really... not at all) how the people you love the most are the ones that succeed in ripping you to shreds. Because of this, I've developed a habit of keeping people from getting too close (it's possible when you change towns every few days). I'm grateful because I do have some incredible close friends and when I start to think that all folks are like those that have caused me grief, I remember the other folks that are still there for me and have not once let me down.

The song was from the 2003 Peter Pan soundtrack by James Newton Howard.
Flying,” is what it's called.

At the shop, I picked up some beets, pumpkin soup, pesto, and broccoli.

On the way back, despite my sore throat, I ended up singing.
Sort of.
It was more like hollering.

I bellowed out as loud as I wanted and wriggled and relished the freedom on the dark bridge that connects the Isle of Skye to the rest of Scotland.

My favourite tune to sing with was Jason Webley's “Eleven Saints.” Along with that song, I also developed a pitiful swagger that would probably melt even the hardcorest gangster as he pitied my attempt.

Despite my body crying, “Yousleepyfool,” my soul was more content than it had been in quite a few days.

“A coffee percolator going.. WHeeeEEE!”

When I got back, I decided it was time for a beet feast. I had seen some girls eating ice cream earlier that day and also wanted something sweet – beets would have to do.

As I was dishing them out into a bowl, one man discussed how he generally prepared his beets – fennel, he said, was the best thing you could do to beets.

Then, someone else spoke up on how their diet currently consisted solely of peanut butter sandwiches.

And this is how I met David.

David is a 24-25ish man carpenter/blacksmith/paramedic/security-dude from Nazareth, Israel.

A general question to ask at the hostels is where someone comes from.

His response was Israel. I wanted to ask, “Where in Israel?” but I realized I didn't well know the geography in Israel to even make it worth his time. So I asked for a geography lesson.

And that's how I began to get to know David.

Now, if you look in the back of my notes section, there's an entire page devoted to Israeli geography.

I especially enjoyed my time with David. It was one of those connections I'd been needing for a while. When you travel, sometimes it gets a bit tiring to never have the conversation waver from the basic questions of:

1) Where are you from?
2) How long are you here for?
3) Where are you going next?
4) What's your job?
5) WHAT? Why are you traveling solo as a female?

Talking to David was remiscent of talking with my brother. He did accept things face-value and would ask questions that cut into the core of what I was saying – taking my mind to places I tend to skim over.

He told me of his family's history, starting with his father.

David was born in North Carolina but moved to Israel when he was 9 (if I remember correct) with his folks and two older siblings, a sister and a brother.

He's the sort of person where, even after an evening of questions, I still have more I want to ask. I want to know more about his sister who he told me repeatedly that I was like. I want to know how the current status of Israel affects his daily life and mentally.

I did get to hear a Hebrew lullaby and that might have been one of four highlights of my time on Skye.

Were I well, I would of joined him the next day to hitchhike around Skye, but instead, I spent the day researching trucks and rats (again).

I'm not too great at describing people so I don't even think I can attempt to describe David. He couldn't grow a beard but, lucky guy, still had a face full of hair. He's in Scotland for just a week and a half or so.

And, if I go to Israel, he said he could teach me blacksmithing which is one of the things I want to learn before I'm 30. I want to learn bits of carpentry by 27 and that could happen if I was in Israel by April.

Not sure if either will happen.
Life tends to surprise me.

That night, I didn't sleep all too well. Everyone got back from the pub at 2 AM and, despite their pathetic efforts, they were quite loud upon reentry into our outdoor caravan where the 8 of us are sleeping.

I woke up with the first person to arise at 7:45 AM. My sleep in the middle was sketchy.
Not exactly idyllic for a sick-o like me. Not what I needed to get better.

Instead of stewing over people getting up when I wanted to be asleep in my bed, I got up as well for some tea in the groovy lounge (their words, not mine).

The walker man was up.
A young women set out to go kayaking was up.
David was up.

They all set off on their ways.

I settled into the couch.

Throughout the day, I got to meet more folks. I met a couple from Perth, Scotland and Amber from Sydney, Australia and a hiking man from Forestville, California. It sort of felt like home as I stumbled around, wrapped up in my blanket, water bottle clutched in my arms.

And now it's night and I feel as exhausted as ever.
So ready to sleep. I hope I can sleep tonight. I really do.

Tomorrow I hitchhike to the ferry terminal on Skye where I can catch my ferry to Mallaig where I'll catch the train to Glasgow. In Glasgow, I'll stay with Flynn – the cousin of my dance-friend, Aimee. The next day, I'll fly to Iceland.

Oh life.

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