Right to Roam : OR Heli and Vicki hitchhike across a Scottish Island at Night in the Dead of Winter

My friend Heli and I decided to go to Tobermory to see the lighting of the Xmas tree and hear Xmas carols. We took an afternoon ferry across the sound of Iona to Fionnphort which you can see from Iona.  When we got on the other side, we were famished so we popped into a small cafe that normally wouldn’t be open this time of year. Our bus wouldn’t be here for a few hours. They were open only because the elders of the community were having their weekly brunch. After lunch we milled around at the Spar (little grocery store) which had a small gift shop.  By this time it was after 3pm and sunset is 3:20pm!  Would we make it on time for the lighting?  Tobermory is more than 2 hours away and we hadn’t even boarded our bus yet!  In fact, the bus hadn’t even arrived yet. I saw an elderly couple enter the little cafe. “I’m going to ask them if they are going to Tobermory”, I exclaimed to Heli.  As it turned out they were going to Craignure which is where the ferries come in from the mainland and where the buses depart for communities on the Island of Mull. Close enough. We were off!

They were the nicest Scots. But we couldn’t understood them  and they kept talking and talking over one another. We were exhausted after 2 hours. I didn’t want to talk about Trump no matter how informed these people were. I wanted to see Mull. It is a wild and desolate place. The beautiful flora and fauna kept speeding past the window as I tried to be polite and keep abreast of the political conversation. At one point I saw a mature  buck with a gigantic rack of horns! The layers of color of bracken and shrubs and trees intrigued me. Ochres, siennas,burnt umber , all autumn’s color offerings. I was trying to memorize the hues and shapes and feel of this landscape! The mountains loomed up before us bold and raw and ancient. Scraped up by volcanic activity and standing unabashedly in there nakedness they called to me.

 

When we got to Craignure, it was nearly dark and it was extremely cold and there isn’t much traffic on Mull. So here I was with Heli standing on the side of the road with my thumb out, freezing my butt off!

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