Cobblestones and Hills

“Something’s Got A Hold On Me” by Etta James

We’ve reached the point in my study abroad experience where I’ve realized that my remaining days are numbered and I’ve been cherishing every moment. And I do mean every moment.

My heart gets all warm and fuzzy when I hear Álvaro put his Spanish twist to “Cheersssss!” I clutch my chest when Ajay bachatas his way across the kitchen while preparing dinner. I mentally catalog the feeling of surprise when Calder emerges from his room after what seems like ages. A tear rolls down my cheek when I see that Cora has actually done her dishes for once.

We can sense the end and it’s heartbreaking. But we’re also determined to leave, guns blazing, milking every last experience until there’s nothing left for Edinburgh to give.

THE PENTLANDS

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Photo courtesy of my Spanish love.
Who knew that the city had so many pseudo-mountains to offer??

Luckily, one of the RA’s, Emma, was rad enough to organize a morning hike for everyone. The early morning meet-up time left us with a rag-tag group of eight hikers with varying skill levels.

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Note: My fake vans did not measure up
After missing our bus, hopelessly wandering through the suburbs to find a semblance of wilderness, and rescuing a birthday balloon from the trees, the Pentlands welcomed us with the most precious gift it had to offer: baby lambs.

Never before have I heard so many uni students let out exclamations of “Awwwww” and “Oh my gosh” in perfect unison. These little creatures stared into our very souls and whispered their sweet secrets.

I must not have listened well enough because I’m certain they were warning me of what was to come.

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This path looks harmless, right? Wrong.

Bring your friends and family here to weed out the weaklings. Not only will their leg muscles threaten to burst through their skin, but their hearts will take it as a personal challenge to see just how fast it can beat.

Needless to say, the group split into two, almost immediately: The Movers and The Shakers.

The Movers strapped on their wrist weights and mall-walked their way to the top. The Shakers (my group, clearly) decided to get a bit creative and branch off from the path. Braxton set off first to see if it was a feasible task. As he turned to give the thumbs up, I mounted the slope ahead and pushed through the pain. It was Jr. High volleyball cardio training all over again. Except this time it was on my own terms and there was no way I was going to cry.

Nearing the first peak, I turned to see if the final member of The Shakers was following. Turns out that she decided to admire the view from the side of the mountain. No problem, just Braxton and me against the elements.

Nope. Braxton was gone. CLASSIC BRAXTON.

So I set out, following sheep trails, taking time to lay down in the strangely spongy bushes, and watch the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh from afar. What was the rush? The Movers were taking a different path, after all.

As I near the top of the next hill, I see a familiar face. Oh my. The Movers have been looking for us and now they are surely under the impression that it took me a million years to climb this hill. Perfect.

Yep, that’s me reaching the group, cheeks flushed with embarrassment and effort.

After enjoying the views for a few moments, we realized that we couldn’t leave Shaker #3 behind. Most of The Movers set out to explore more of the hills while those remaining formed the search party.

On our way, I managed to comically tumble down the incline, executing full somersaults with legs flailing in the air.

That’s right boys. I may not impress you with my athletic prowess, but I will definitely provide some form of entertainment 😉

Since Álvaro was among The Movers that continued the climb, he supplied me with some beautiful pictures of views I missed out on.

NEPALESE NEW YEAR

You may be wondering aloud to yourself, “What connection does Tirra have with the Nepalese New Year?”

Great question. My great pal, Ajay, is from Nepal!

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Hopefully you don’t mind that I used this photo, Ajay 🙂
Being that he is one of the sweetest guys in all of Edinburgh, he invited the flat to come celebrate with him! Of course we obliged.

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Before we arrived, Ajay warned us that Nepalese people tend to be very late and unorganized so we mentally prepared for an experience completely in contrast with Western customs.

What Ajay didn’t tell us was that everyone dresses up for the celebration. In walks the Spaniard and two Americans (sporting day-time apparel) into a room filled with gorgeous saris and men dressed in their finest attire. We glanced down at our jeans, swallowed our embarrassment, and shuffled our way to our table. Much love to you, Ajay 🙂 🙂 🙂

Speeches began the night and I strained to understand what was being said over the roar of the crowd. Turning to Ajay, I asked, “Is it normal for people to talk over the speaker?”

“Oh yes, Nepalese people will talk no matter who has the stage. Presenters, singers, dancers, it doesn’t matter, we’ll talk over them.”

Completely out of my element, I turned back to the stage to try to work out what was being said. About every fifth word was coming through but most of it was going over my head.”Calder, is this even in English???”

He laughed, “I’m pretty sure it’s a mix of English and Nepalese.”

Once again, Ajay chuckled at us and confirmed our suspicions.

After the speeches concluded, the talent portion of the night took place. Little girls performed beautiful traditional dances, singers took the stage to perform Nepalese and Hindi pieces, and bands showcased their talent. I was captivated by everyone, but the little girls held a special place in my heart. Their tiny frames executed the dances perfectly while their faces held so much pride and happiness. I could watch them for hours.

Next came dinner. This is where the Nepalese dared to show just how unorganized they could be and it was fantastic.

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I forgot to take a picture before we ate. Oops.
As they announced the meal, the room became crowded in every direction. Where did the line begin/end/fork off into different lines? Were we recreating the constellations on the dance floor? It was a beautiful chaos. Eventually, it was decided that there would be a line for men and women. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that 1) all of my table mates were male 2) there were approximately four times as many women as men and 3) the men had the privilege of going through the line first.

It would be another hour before I saw the start of the buffet table.

Ajay turned to smirk at me as he walked towards our table with his food. I sighed and silently cried to myself as my stomach grumbled audibly. BUT THEN, the twist of all twists took place: Ajay winked at me and returned to the line. Like the gentleman he is, my sweet Nepalese flatmate filled a plate just for me ❤

After dinner, the dance floor opened up so Ajay and I set to work convincing Álvaro and Calder to join us. Eventually, we were out busting our moves to the latest Hindi and Nepalese jams and being taught how to dance properly by men who could move better than I could ever hope to.

We concluded the night with a trip to the castle in the rain and promises to be friends forever and ever.

Here’s a slideshow demonstrating how terrible we are at taking photos together:

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DIFFERENT FUN TIMES

Here’s a quick wrap-up of other things since this post is getting long.

I went shopping with my fav Frenchman, Simon, and sidekick, Braxton. We ended up exploring our city and drinking milkshakes straight out of the 50’s (not pictured).

Latin music coursed through out veins as we enjoyed a group night out at the club Boteco.

I became a real adult. Who wants salmon, roasted asparagus, and potatoes?

I also stole Álvaro’s phone and texted girls for him because he’s a cutie/sweetheart and doesn’t get enough praise.

Love is in the air.

Edi and I send ours to you ❤

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4 thoughts on “Cobblestones and Hills

  1. Please invite all of your friends to visit us in Iowa so we can meet them! I am thrilled about all of the cultures, history, and traditions you have learned about this semester. I am so thankful for the sweet, wonderful friends you have met. They have made your travel experience the absolute best. ISU sure knows how to set up a positive learning experience with their study abroad program. Tirra, thanks for making us so proud!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I laughed I cried I felt emotions that I thought I could never feel. Gosh dang you strike again! Seriously, I feel like I have such a connection with these people and I met them for hardly even 48 hours time! It makes reading this even more grand. You have a lucky bunch there, TB 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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