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European Journal #27: Tartan Dreams

Posted Feb 19 2009 6:31pm

European Journal #27: Tartan Dreams

Ever since my sight started on its own biological clock ticking away to the eventual day of full-blindness, my resolve to see more of the world has strengthened. I’d been to Asia, Africa, plenty of American states and most of Canada, as well as Europe. There was still Australia, some more Asian countries, India, exotic South America, other undiscovered African countries and most especially returning to Europe, where I once lived, to see the union of countries I had called home for a year as a teenager. The beauty of Europe comes from its royal ancestry, renaissance architecture, maintaining centuries of culture and folklore, as well as the charm and love of the people who reside in the heavily populated, small European countries. I knew I just had to go back, at least once, before I couldn’t be able to grasp its immaculate beauty with my sight any more. It was a dream I just had to live out.

During my emergency medical leave in December, I found out I’d been transferred to another job, no longer living in Kaduna and working with the HIV/AIDS organization. It was a mutual agreement amongst us all that I would be of better use in the capital city of Nigeria, with my skills and knowledge used towards influencing politicians to process their disability policies and bills faster into passage, as well as working with a variety of non-government organizations (NGOs) to educate them about the abilities and dis-abilities of the disabled people of Nigeria. So, Abuja would become my new stomping grounds come March 10th.

So what was I to do from January 15th to March 10th? I’d completed my grueling glaucoma removal procedure in early December, and visited the city of Seattle to celebrate Christmas with my Deaf and Deaf-Blind peers. I was not keen on staying in snow-covered Canada when there was a deep-freeze occuring. Despite living in the wintry wonderland most of my life, I despise the cold, so every year I sought refuge in countries that had almost no snow or none. VSO asked me to wait two months more, til March, and there was no snowball’s chance in hell I was staying back home throughout the blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. I requested to travel somewhere, perhaps Europe, during the two months’ wait - and my organization gave me the green light. I immediately sent out notices to friends in most European countries asking if they had some time for me, and with luck, in return I was invited to give lectures much alike the ones I had done in America during the summer of 2008. I also had my heart set on going back to Germany, where I had spent a year as an exchange student in 1997 at a deaf high school in Oldenburg, Niedersachsen State. I just had to see my old host families, the friends I had befriended during that exchange year, and embrace the beauty of the country I had once called home. Their response to me: Willkommen zuruck zuhause = welcome back home.

In the first weeks of January, I was busy planning my last weeks in the United States, celebrating my 29th birthday, as well as laying out a last minute intinerary throughout Europe and scribbling down a long list of cities I’d see. Emails poured in, and offers to do lectures materialized. Zurich. Amsterdam. London. The offers to do Cologne, Germany, Rome, and Linz, Austria fell through - they cited not enough time to prepare. However, the prospect of doing lectures in three cities was exciting enough, meeting more Deaf Blind people throughout Europe and learning new sign languages. It meant tactiling different languages and becoming more united with more and more Deaf Blind people around the globe.

Once I’d gotten to London, England, on January 15th, I had immediately reserved a flight to Dublin, Ireland for the 17th, and from there to Edinburgh, Scotland for the 22nd. I had friends in both cities, volunteers I had befriended in Nigeria who returned home mid-2008. I had the opportunity to see Deaf friends in Dublin, as well, college friends from Gallaudet University.

Dublin was so much fun. I had too many Guinnesses, a kiss from an Irishman, and had a copy of my eye drawn on my back with a Celtic pupil by a tattoo artist in the Temple area of Dublin. Somehow I was looking forward to Scotland more than anything - even Germany!

Once I landed in Edinburgh, the Aer Lingus airline had arranged for a guide to escort me from the plane to the baggage claim. A tall, stocky man appeared in a neon yellow jacket, silent and nodding as I’d reached for his arm to guide me away. At the baggage claim, he gestured, which bag? And I’d replied, I’d see it myself. He appeared surprised at my ability to gesture, and asked if I was deaf. I nodded, and he signed: I’m deaf, too.
Whoa. It was the very first time that I’d been escorted by airport security that was deaf, too! I asked about deaf clubs, social events and the sign language of Scotland. He said there was a better deaf community in Glasgow, however, Deaf Action was an advocacy organization in Edinburgh that I should visit. We parted ways and I thanked him for the friendly Scottish hospitality, and for his patience towards our British and American sign language differences.

I stayed with a friend who worked in Nigeria, as well, but was home in Edinburgh due to some visa problems - godsent, we think. We spent a wonderful week - touring the city when Ellie wasn’t working, and savoring the delicious Black Cuillin Mountain of Skye Island beer. Pubs, new friends and fish&chips galore! On my list to see in Scotland, I stepped aboard the Royal Britannia Yacht in the Edinburgh harbour, several ancient pubs, the Borders (where border collies and poet Robert Burns come from), and the mystical Isle of Skye.

One of the weekends, I decided to visit the Borders, to take up an invitation by a pal I’d met in Nigeria, Sandy Neil. He and his family live in Selkirk, an hour and so north of Edinburgh. The weekend would consist of delicious “apple cheese”, pints and pints of delicious ale beer, rich history of the area, an ancient traditional night in honour of local poet Robert Burns complete with kilts and whisky, and loads of lamb. In that short weekend, the Neils became family and showed me how extraordinary love can be. I’m forever grateful to them for showing me the beauty of their country and for welcoming me into their beautiful home with love. Their parting gift: an ancient Macduff tartan scarf - now I felt like I was falling in love with Scotland.

I had gotten nudges from my Scottish pals that I just had to take the trip up to Isle of Skye. So on the internet I went, searching for a tour bus and I found Macbackpackers.com, a youth bus tour for foreigners aged 18 to 35, and paid for a weekend excursion. Their package offered a 2 night hostel stay in the town of Kyleakin, on the Isle of Skye, and loads of places to see up to the isle and back to Edinburgh. I wasn’t really prepared for the overwhelming experience to come.

On a cold, dark morning of January 30, Ellie dropped me off at the High Street Hostel and guided me to a Macbackpackers bus half-filled with youth from Japan, Germany, France, Australia, Greece, Argentina, Belgium and of course, Canada. Ellie told the folks I was Deaf and Blind, the best way to communicate with me was with papers and markers, and assured them I was loads of fun to be with. With hugs and well wishes, Ellie was off and I ventured onto the trip of a lifetime.

Michael, our tour bus driver, was a cute fella in his mid-thirties, with long curly locks, woolly brown sweater and sporting a green/blue kilt with the traditional leather Scottish man-purse around his waist. He had charisma and confidence seeping from his self, I was immediately taken by his friendliness. He knew of my presence on the bus, and during the trip, he had written notes of each historical landmark and let me do what I wanted to do. However, Michael was not familiar with the concept of having a disabled tourist, so he felt awkward at times. He’d tell me there’s some places I should go ahead and join the others, but some places I should just stay put by the bus while the others ventured off into “dangerous” terrain.

One of these “dangerous” places was the steps to the rocky beach of the Loch Ness. Loch in Gaelic translates to Lake. It is world-famous for its ancient sightings of the monster that peered out of the lake, snapshots allegedly taken and posted in newspapers around the world and its folklore carried onto many generations of Scottish folk. I learnt about the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster when I was a little girl, so it was inspirtation maximius for me to be standing before the large lake with its mountains in the background, the very waters that Nessie was said to exist in. The cold January winds blew hard, and the waves turned into a charcoal black. The clouds formed black and white lines, and it created somewhat of an eerie but beautiful scene. I was here, finally.

Michael wrote to me, “the steps to the beach is dangerous” after the history of the Loch Ness on a piece of paper. I mouthed with my chapped lips: So what? He shrugged.

I took a short 2 minute video outside, by the bus on the side of the road with my camera, intended for Youtube, and when I was done I looked around for the others. They had disappeared from the side of the bus. I looked around, and up, and down, and found them loitering all over the rocky beach 100 meters down from the road. I looked over and saw wooden stairs leading to the beach and a weak railing. I decided I wanted to join them, and not be left out. So with my trusty cane, and my hand gripping the railing, I slowly made it down the wooden, uneven stairs to the rocky beach. Once I arrived, Michael and the other backpackers were shocked. Coco! They mouthed. I smiled with pride, of course, and started taking pictures from the last stairstep. It was so much more beautiful from the bottom, more so because I had defied their doubts and made it down.

We made it throughout several cool landmarks beside Loch Ness, and arrived in Kyleakin by sundown. In the nightfall, we hit the King Hakkon Pub and downed several Black Cuillin ales and some fine Scottish whisky. The pub owners challenged the backpackers to Karaoke Night, but all of them declined. I was behind in knowing what was going on, so a partially deaf backpacker from Belgium, Sophie, wrote to me that there was a karaoke competition. I said I wanted to be part of it and the pub owner laughed in my face. I asked Michael if he was up to the challenge for a duet, and he gladly accepted. We signed up to do Deacon Blue’s Scottish leid, “Dignity (the Boat)”. I signed to the lyrics on the screen, and Michael sang it out loud with his full-on Scottish accent - and we won first place. A fine bottle of wine.

The next day was full of extraordinary scenery, and one of them I would never forget for the rest of my life. We had gone through the river of Sligachan, stopped by Portree, bent our necks to look up at the Black Cuillin Mountains, walked on the huge, steep brown rocks of the Quirang, walked around the forbidden ruins of the Macdonald Castle, looked down a steep cliff where the Tyrannosaurus Rex footprints could be detected at Kilt Rock, and treaded our feet carefully around the Faery Lands.

It wasn’t the cliffs nor the lakes nor the mountains that took my breath away. It was during the Faery Land, when we drove up to the green hills where the mystical legend of the Faeries originated. Michael had gone on and on and on about the land while I had sit idly by in the front seat of the bus, waiting for his written response. Once the backpackers got off the bus, I went, too, thinking Michael would come up to me with the piece of paper later. I tried to take a picture by the pond but I had tripped backwards and cursed a bit. Michael scurried to me with the paper and on it he wrote: No cursing. No stealing. No whistling. You can’t put your hands in your pocket. I had already cursed, and he said I had pissed off the faeries. So I snuck in 2 pennies to please them, so he said it would. Then Michael said that the others were over the hill hiking to see the Faery Palace, but it was covered in rocks and he thought it was too dangerous for me. While I was writing my response to him, he had disappeared. I was completely alone by the pond and that pissed me off. How could they just assume I couldn’t do it because I was deaf and blind?

By the bus there was a high hill, I assume the highest of them all, and it was smooth, mossy, and rock-free. Something was materializing inside of my gut, and that was sheer determination. I thought to myself, what if I could climb that hill? What if I proved them wrong?

The hill was close to climbing a wall, only I had worn good hiking shoes. I used my cane as support, and within 10 minutes of struggling, I was halfway up. I looked around, and still no one came to the bus. I had my eyes set on the peak, but the way up was more slanted so I got on my feet, knees, and hands and started climbing. My pants got wet instantly around the knee area, as it was slippery and mossy, and my hands turned brown from the soil. My heart started accumulating its beats, as I put my hands and feet forward. Closer and closer to the top, I thought I would fall, and braced for the worst. But within minutes, I was there.

My knees shook like a 6.5 magnitiude earthquake. I could not fathom I was really standing on the tall hill overlooking miles and miles of green land. I had to stay put in one place for I feared there was some unseen slope and I would slip to my death. The area at the top of the hill was small, there wasn’t much to walk around in. Besides from the area I had climbed up, the other sides were so steep, cliff-like. My heart was beating like crazy, I thought I would pass out. I had no one beside me, just my trusty cane and my camera hanging out of my pocket. Instantly, I made a video of my triumph up the hill, and I held it from afar with my shaky hands. Euphoria was pumping throughout my veins, and my head was on an all-time high. As I signed to the camera, I felt my knees start to buckle, I continued until the end. I let out a loud roar, as if I achieved a trip up Mount Everest. A small hill compared to a gigantic mountain, but the feeling was the same.

I turned around slowly, towards to the place where the backpackers were supposedly venturing - the Faery Palace. I let out a yell, and I felt it echo throughout the green hills to them. I saw some of the white figures waving, and I waved back. I felt triumphant, as if nothing could stop me. Not even their doubts, not even wet and steep hills, not even my own fears. I had made it up here, alone, as a Deaf Blind adventurer. I had definitely found triumph and justification.

On my way back down, carefully, Michael met me half way. I told him to go back to the bus by himself, I wanted to make it back myself. He could not stop smiling.

Once I got on the bus with my muddy hands and wet pants and a glowing face, I was met with cheers and clapping from the backpackers. Michael gave me a high-five and wrote to me: You’re awesome.

One of the French backpackers had defied the rules and swore, stole a stone, put his hands in his pocket, and whistled. Five minutes later, he slipped on some rocks by the Faery Palace and broke his ankle. True story. So we drove him to the hospital in Portree and had a beer or two in Eilean an Leann.

The beauty of the land where tartans and bravery come from has somehow lighted up something in my heart. It’s something that I rarely feel, a passion of a country. The clan of the Neils have shown me what a bond a Scottish family have, and I felt that. The unique beauty of Edinburgh through Ellie and its architecture has me drawn in. The mystical isle of Skye has proven my strength, and for that I will never forget. Knowing that there are stone cottages out by the white sands of the isles alongside the Hebrides have a place in my dreams. The community of deaf and deaf-blind people of Scotland have welcomed my hands onto theirs. Once the Neils wrapped that soft Macduff tartan around my neck, I started dreaming. Dreaming of home, of love, of my little stone cottage on an island, running with my white horse and Border Collie running not far behind. It just felt right. Somehow, whenever, the tartan dreams shall come true.

One of the best things about living in Scotland on a dual citizenship (thanks to my mum, a natural-born Englishwoman), I’d be able to visit Germany, Spain, Sweden, and so many other European Union countries, in hopes of making new friendships and creating unions of Deaf Blind people.

Dreams, when one is determined to make it happen, shall one day be right in front of you. Dreams are not only meant to be wishful thinking, but it speaks the language of your soul. Your soul wishes it to happen, it’s up to your determination and destiny. Giving up only means that you’ll continue to think about it for the rest of your life. People come in the way of dreams, such as those who think that Deaf Blind people aren’t able to do anything. But when you say that money, marriage, kids and so on is only empty excuses most of the time, but mostly because of fear. It is because of fear that people do not make their dreams come true, and right now I am fearless.

Be fearless and dream til it’s reality.
Tactile love,
Coco

European Journal #27: Tartan Dreams

Ever since my sight started on its own biological clock ticking away to the eventual day of full-blindness, my resolve to see more of the world has strengthened. I’d been to Asia, Africa, plenty of American states and most of Canada, as well as Europe. There was still Australia, some more Asian countries, India, exotic South America, other undiscovered African countries and most especially returning to Europe, where I once lived, to see the union of countries I had called home for a year as a teenager. The beauty of Europe comes from its royal ancestry, renaissance architecture, maintaining centuries of culture and folklore, as well as the charm and love of the people who reside in the heavily populated, small European countries. I knew I just had to go back, at least once, before I couldn’t be able to grasp its immaculate beauty with my sight any more. It was a dream I just had to live out.

During my emergency medical leave in December, I found out I’d been transferred to another job, no longer living in Kaduna and working with the HIV/AIDS organization. It was a mutual agreement amongst us all that I would be of better use in the capital city of Nigeria, with my skills and knowledge used towards influencing politicians to process their disability policies and bills faster into passage, as well as working with a variety of non-government organizations (NGOs) to educate them about the abilities and dis-abilities of the disabled people of Nigeria. So, Abuja would become my new stomping grounds come March 10th.

So what was I to do from January 15th to March 10th? I’d completed my grueling glaucoma removal procedure in early December, and visited the city of Seattle to celebrate Christmas with my Deaf and Deaf-Blind peers. I was not keen on staying in snow-covered Canada when there was a deep-freeze occuring. Despite living in the wintry wonderland most of my life, I despise the cold, so every year I sought refuge in countries that had almost no snow or none. VSO asked me to wait two months more, til March, and there was no snowball’s chance in hell I was staying back home throughout the blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. I requested to travel somewhere, perhaps Europe, during the two months’ wait - and my organization gave me the green light. I immediately sent out notices to friends in most European countries asking if they had some time for me, and with luck, in return I was invited to give lectures much alike the ones I had done in America during the summer of 2008. I also had my heart set on going back to Germany, where I had spent a year as an exchange student in 1997 at a deaf high school in Oldenburg, Niedersachsen State. I just had to see my old host families, the friends I had befriended during that exchange year, and embrace the beauty of the country I had once called home. Their response to me: Willkommen zuruck zuhause = welcome back home.

In the first weeks of January, I was busy planning my last weeks in the United States, celebrating my 29th birthday, as well as laying out a last minute intinerary throughout Europe and scribbling down a long list of cities I’d see. Emails poured in, and offers to do lectures materialized. Zurich. Amsterdam. London. The offers to do Cologne, Germany, Rome, and Linz, Austria fell through - they cited not enough time to prepare. However, the prospect of doing lectures in three cities was exciting enough, meeting more Deaf Blind people throughout Europe and learning new sign languages. It meant tactiling different languages and becoming more united with more and more Deaf Blind people around the globe.

Once I’d gotten to London, England, on January 15th, I had immediately reserved a flight to Dublin, Ireland for the 17th, and from there to Edinburgh, Scotland for the 22nd. I had friends in both cities, volunteers I had befriended in Nigeria who returned home mid-2008. I had the opportunity to see Deaf friends in Dublin, as well, college friends from Gallaudet University.

Dublin was so much fun. I had too many Guinnesses, a kiss from an Irishman, and had a copy of my eye drawn on my back with a Celtic pupil by a tattoo artist in the Temple area of Dublin. Somehow I was looking forward to Scotland more than anything - even Germany!

Once I landed in Edinburgh, the Aer Lingus airline had arranged for a guide to escort me from the plane to the baggage claim. A tall, stocky man appeared in a neon yellow jacket, silent and nodding as I’d reached for his arm to guide me away. At the baggage claim, he gestured, which bag? And I’d replied, I’d see it myself. He appeared surprised at my ability to gesture, and asked if I was deaf. I nodded, and he signed: I’m deaf, too.
Whoa. It was the very first time that I’d been escorted by airport security that was deaf, too! I asked about deaf clubs, social events and the sign language of Scotland. He said there was a better deaf community in Glasgow, however, Deaf Action was an advocacy organization in Edinburgh that I should visit. We parted ways and I thanked him for the friendly Scottish hospitality, and for his patience towards our British and American sign language differences.

I stayed with a friend who worked in Nigeria, as well, but was home in Edinburgh due to some visa problems - godsent, we think. We spent a wonderful week - touring the city when Ellie wasn’t working, and savoring the delicious Black Cuillin Mountain of Skye Island beer. Pubs, new friends and fish&chips galore! On my list to see in Scotland, I stepped aboard the Royal Britannia Yacht in the Edinburgh harbour, several ancient pubs, the Borders (where border collies and poet Robert Burns come from), and the mystical Isle of Skye.

One of the weekends, I decided to visit the Borders, to take up an invitation by a pal I’d met in Nigeria, Sandy Neil. He and his family live in Selkirk, an hour and so north of Edinburgh. The weekend would consist of delicious “apple cheese”, pints and pints of delicious ale beer, rich history of the area, an ancient traditional night in honour of local poet Robert Burns complete with kilts and whisky, and loads of lamb. In that short weekend, the Neils became family and showed me how extraordinary love can be. I’m forever grateful to them for showing me the beauty of their country and for welcoming me into their beautiful home with love. Their parting gift: an ancient Macduff tartan scarf - now I felt like I was falling in love with Scotland.

I had gotten nudges from my Scottish pals that I just had to take the trip up to Isle of Skye. So on the internet I went, searching for a tour bus and I found Macbackpackers.com, a youth bus tour for foreigners aged 18 to 35, and paid for a weekend excursion. Their package offered a 2 night hostel stay in the town of Kyleakin, on the Isle of Skye, and loads of places to see up to the isle and back to Edinburgh. I wasn’t really prepared for the overwhelming experience to come.

On a cold, dark morning of January 30, Ellie dropped me off at the High Street Hostel and guided me to a Macbackpackers bus half-filled with youth from Japan, Germany, France, Australia, Greece, Argentina, Belgium and of course, Canada. Ellie told the folks I was Deaf and Blind, the best way to communicate with me was with papers and markers, and assured them I was loads of fun to be with. With hugs and well wishes, Ellie was off and I ventured onto the trip of a lifetime.

Michael, our tour bus driver, was a cute fella in his mid-thirties, with long curly locks, woolly brown sweater and sporting a green/blue kilt with the traditional leather Scottish man-purse around his waist. He had charisma and confidence seeping from his self, I was immediately taken by his friendliness. He knew of my presence on the bus, and during the trip, he had written notes of each historical landmark and let me do what I wanted to do. However, Michael was not familiar with the concept of having a disabled tourist, so he felt awkward at times. He’d tell me there’s some places I should go ahead and join the others, but some places I should just stay put by the bus while the others ventured off into “dangerous” terrain.

One of these “dangerous” places was the steps to the rocky beach of the Loch Ness. Loch in Gaelic translates to Lake. It is world-famous for its ancient sightings of the monster that peered out of the lake, snapshots allegedly taken and posted in newspapers around the world and its folklore carried onto many generations of Scottish folk. I learnt about the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster when I was a little girl, so it was inspirtation maximius for me to be standing before the large lake with its mountains in the background, the very waters that Nessie was said to exist in. The cold January winds blew hard, and the waves turned into a charcoal black. The clouds formed black and white lines, and it created somewhat of an eerie but beautiful scene. I was here, finally.

Michael wrote to me, “the steps to the beach is dangerous” after the history of the Loch Ness on a piece of paper. I mouthed with my chapped lips: So what? He shrugged.

I took a short 2 minute video outside, by the bus on the side of the road with my camera, intended for Youtube, and when I was done I looked around for the others. They had disappeared from the side of the bus. I looked around, and up, and down, and found them loitering all over the rocky beach 100 meters down from the road. I looked over and saw wooden stairs leading to the beach and a weak railing. I decided I wanted to join them, and not be left out. So with my trusty cane, and my hand gripping the railing, I slowly made it down the wooden, uneven stairs to the rocky beach. Once I arrived, Michael and the other backpackers were shocked. Coco! They mouthed. I smiled with pride, of course, and started taking pictures from the last stairstep. It was so much more beautiful from the bottom, more so because I had defied their doubts and made it down.

We made it throughout several cool landmarks beside Loch Ness, and arrived in Kyleakin by sundown. In the nightfall, we hit the King Hakkon Pub and downed several Black Cuillin ales and some fine Scottish whisky. The pub owners challenged the backpackers to Karaoke Night, but all of them declined. I was behind in knowing what was going on, so a partially deaf backpacker from Belgium, Sophie, wrote to me that there was a karaoke competition. I said I wanted to be part of it and the pub owner laughed in my face. I asked Michael if he was up to the challenge for a duet, and he gladly accepted. We signed up to do Deacon Blue’s Scottish leid, “Dignity (the Boat)”. I signed to the lyrics on the screen, and Michael sang it out loud with his full-on Scottish accent - and we won first place. A fine bottle of wine.

The next day was full of extraordinary scenery, and one of them I would never forget for the rest of my life. We had gone through the river of Sligachan, stopped by Portree, bent our necks to look up at the Black Cuillin Mountains, walked on the huge, steep brown rocks of the Quirang, walked around the forbidden ruins of the Macdonald Castle, looked down a steep cliff where the Tyrannosaurus Rex footprints could be detected at Kilt Rock, and treaded our feet carefully around the Faery Lands.

It wasn’t the cliffs nor the lakes nor the mountains that took my breath away. It was during the Faery Land, when we drove up to the green hills where the mystical legend of the Faeries originated. Michael had gone on and on and on about the land while I had sit idly by in the front seat of the bus, waiting for his written response. Once the backpackers got off the bus, I went, too, thinking Michael would come up to me with the piece of paper later. I tried to take a picture by the pond but I had tripped backwards and cursed a bit. Michael scurried to me with the paper and on it he wrote: No cursing. No stealing. No whistling. You can’t put your hands in your pocket. I had already cursed, and he said I had pissed off the faeries. So I snuck in 2 pennies to please them, so he said it would. Then Michael said that the others were over the hill hiking to see the Faery Palace, but it was covered in rocks and he thought it was too dangerous for me. While I was writing my response to him, he had disappeared. I was completely alone by the pond and that pissed me off. How could they just assume I couldn’t do it because I was deaf and blind?

By the bus there was a high hill, I assume the highest of them all, and it was smooth, mossy, and rock-free. Something was materializing inside of my gut, and that was sheer determination. I thought to myself, what if I could climb that hill? What if I proved them wrong?

The hill was close to climbing a wall, only I had worn good hiking shoes. I used my cane as support, and within 10 minutes of struggling, I was halfway up. I looked around, and still no one came to the bus. I had my eyes set on the peak, but the way up was more slanted so I got on my feet, knees, and hands and started climbing. My pants got wet instantly around the knee area, as it was slippery and mossy, and my hands turned brown from the soil. My heart started accumulating its beats, as I put my hands and feet forward. Closer and closer to the top, I thought I would fall, and braced for the worst. But within minutes, I was there.

My knees shook like a 6.5 magnitiude earthquake. I could not fathom I was really standing on the tall hill overlooking miles and miles of green land. I had to stay put in one place for I feared there was some unseen slope and I would slip to my death. The area at the top of the hill was small, there wasn’t much to walk around in. Besides from the area I had climbed up, the other sides were so steep, cliff-like. My heart was beating like crazy, I thought I would pass out. I had no one beside me, just my trusty cane and my camera hanging out of my pocket. Instantly, I made a video of my triumph up the hill, and I held it from afar with my shaky hands. Euphoria was pumping throughout my veins, and my head was on an all-time high. As I signed to the camera, I felt my knees start to buckle, I continued until the end. I let out a loud roar, as if I achieved a trip up Mount Everest. A small hill compared to a gigantic mountain, but the feeling was the same.

I turned around slowly, towards to the place where the backpackers were supposedly venturing - the Faery Palace. I let out a yell, and I felt it echo throughout the green hills to them. I saw some of the white figures waving, and I waved back. I felt triumphant, as if nothing could stop me. Not even their doubts, not even wet and steep hills, not even my own fears. I had made it up here, alone, as a Deaf Blind adventurer. I had definitely found triumph and justification.

On my way back down, carefully, Michael met me half way. I told him to go back to the bus by himself, I wanted to make it back myself. He could not stop smiling.

Once I got on the bus with my muddy hands and wet pants and a glowing face, I was met with cheers and clapping from the backpackers. Michael gave me a high-five and wrote to me: You’re awesome.

One of the French backpackers had defied the rules and swore, stole a stone, put his hands in his pocket, and whistled. Five minutes later, he slipped on some rocks by the Faery Palace and broke his ankle. True story. So we drove him to the hospital in Portree and had a beer or two in Eilean an Leann.

The beauty of the land where tartans and bravery come from has somehow lighted up something in my heart. It’s something that I rarely feel, a passion of a country. The clan of the Neils have shown me what a bond a Scottish family have, and I felt that. The unique beauty of Edinburgh through Ellie and its architecture has me drawn in. The mystical isle of Skye has proven my strength, and for that I will never forget. Knowing that there are stone cottages out by the white sands of the isles alongside the Hebrides have a place in my dreams. The community of deaf and deaf-blind people of Scotland have welcomed my hands onto theirs. Once the Neils wrapped that soft Macduff tartan around my neck, I started dreaming. Dreaming of home, of love, of my little stone cottage on an island, running with my white horse and Border Collie running not far behind. It just felt right. Somehow, whenever, the tartan dreams shall come true.

One of the best things about living in Scotland on a dual citizenship (thanks to my mum, a natural-born Englishwoman), I’d be able to visit Germany, Spain, Sweden, and so many other European Union countries, in hopes of making new friendships and creating unions of Deaf Blind people.

Dreams, when one is determined to make it happen, shall one day be right in front of you. Dreams are not only meant to be wishful thinking, but it speaks the language of your soul. Your soul wishes it to happen, it’s up to your determination and destiny. Giving up only means that you’ll continue to think about it for the rest of your life. People come in the way of dreams, such as those who think that Deaf Blind people aren’t able to do anything. But when you say that money, marriage, kids and so on is only empty excuses most of the time, but mostly because of fear. It is because of fear that people do not make their dreams come true, and right now I am fearless.

Be fearless and dream til it’s reality.
Tactile love,
Coco

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