Mark my words Scotland will soon be its own country. I could feel it in the populace like rain in the air, heavy and waiting for the right moment to pour forth it’s innards onto you. This is Scotland. A wonderfully rugged community, full of culture and balls. That’s right I said balls. Think about what it means when you say “you’ve got some balls” fearless, in your face, step out onto the fucking ledge and dance a Scottish jig. that’s what Scotland is my friends. Balls.
I started in the capital Edinburgh and I haven’t experienced a scene getting off the train like this anywhere else. The moment you step out into the street you are on this magical fence separating modern tastes and classic features. High atop is a massive castle overlooking the city like something out of Dracula it looms above the town daring you to visit. There are monuments and statues everywhere and somewhat second hand in there tourism. Like they are just there and the sheer beauty of this place is no big deal because it is every where. Beautiful balls…yes
I normally wouldn’t speak much of one city within this very short blog but the story of this place is too good to not be true. You see I have been couchsurfing along this journey and for the first time felt awkward in the place I was to lay my head.
Have you ever seen the movie Trainspotting by Danny Boyle? It’s about a group of drug addicted folk who run about experiencing life. Turns out part of it was filmed in Edinborough in a borough called Leif’s Walk. Turns out this was where I was to stay as well.
The story begins as I walked up to an apartment deep in the heart of Leif’s Ghetto. I buzzed and was let in by a wonderfully wrinkled lady by the name of Nicky. Upon entering the home I found about 15 other people scrambling about, eating food, rifling through crowded rucksacks, and sitting about on whatever seemed soft or sturdy. There was a bunk bed in the living room and plenty of knickknacks littering the floor. I was told to throw my things to the side and sit for a while. I obliged. Nicky was coughing incessantly and had strange looking sores all over her arms which gave me a certain pause, but I grew up on a farm and played in grime all day so I wasn’t detoured. It must have been a topic of conversation with other surfers because she immediately engaged me about it.
“I have pigeon disease”
“I’m sorry what”
” I have this thing called cittacosas, or commonly referred to as pigeon disease (coughs)”
“I see, can I get you some water or something”
“Nah ill have a cigarette”
She preceded to tell me that her husband and her had lived in flat 7 on the third floor and there was a pigeon infestation of which she breathed in to much pigeon poop, which caused an infection in her lungs, so, Pigeon disease. Never the less she called out for a guy from Spain named Antonio to take me up to flat 4 where I would be residing for my stay. I thanked her and gave her a hug before I went Upstaurs to the next flat
Upon entering flat 4 I noticed that the walls of the apartment building were all marked in crayons and markers signifying things like apartment numbers and this wAy up or down, odd, but whatever. Once we entered flat 4 I was introduced to about ten other people from all over the world. Two female partners from Canada, a couple from Bulgaria, three German friends, a Polish hitchhiker, a Chicago born yank, and a brazillion queen, all living under this one roof with the rest of the house from flat 2. The Chicagoin named Dave recognized another American immediately and preceded to explain what the hell was going on. Apparently Nicky and her husband Dan take in all the strays. People from the street, couch surfers, nomads, you name it they bring them in. Some people pay to have “rooms” some people don’t. It’s like an orphanage of cultures and religions. I was intrigued.
The evening passed quietly until I was shown to my room which I shared with three other guys. As i was about to enter dream land on the dirty carpet the Canadiens came in to set up a tattoo table in the corner. That happened to be my sleeping corner but no bother, I was fascinated by this pop up parlor and watched impressingly as they inked the Bulgarian boys. The night passed and I awoke to A cold room in which everyone had left to either explore or escape. Who knows.
Downstairs I met Dan who seemed like he had had too many red bulls mixed with aspirin, whatever that makes. I met some more couhsurfers that showed up in the night and decided to go out and explore the city. I felt uneasy about leaving my ruck sac around with so many people but there was nothing of real value in it so off I went.
Edinburgh itself is a stunning place. As stated before the mix if old and new is abundant and the people are true to themselves which is more rare than you think. I won’t ruin it for except to say. Go visit. Now, back to me 😉
I returned to the flat to the sounds of arguing. A rather large Scotsman was discussing things with Nicky in a sad yet angered voice while others I had not yet met chimed in with quips an unless avert. Uh huhs and yeps. Or in this case Aye and hughhh. He was wearing a kilt and hasn’t shaven in a long time. I stayed out of the way and went to the grocery store. I was to cook dinner for everyone. I live to cook and culinary arts was my first degree from college. I returned to find flat 2 still full of arguing people and went to flat 4 to crest my Van Gough, tacos! All twenty some people ate loudly with delight and I took some downstairs to Nicky and her fellow debaters, although they were gone but a few still sulking in the conversation. I presented the paintings and they devoured them like Turkish gypsys in East Berlin munching in a Kebab. Nicky then told me to grab my ruc sac, I would be sleeping in flat 2 tonight on the bunk bed. I think this was reward for my cuisine and I didn’t complain. I slept well cept for the sore throat all the marihuana and tobacco I inhaled second hand. i almost expected another late night tattoo session or some crazy piercing event, but the night passed un-eventful, but it might not have since I’m a heavy sleeper.
The next day there were some more new surfers and nomads roaming about and I decided to check my things. All there. Feeling confident I left for a bus tour to castles and coliseums. It was grand. However upon returning I found Nicky in. Heightened state. There were some people from the previous night who had argued, all cept the Scotsman. She asked if I could make dinner again. I found leftovers of all kinds of things surfers had left and obliged her. During this session the others drew me into there circle. I was trusted and as such was privy to certain information about the previous night.
“My husbands been kidnapped!”
“I see, well that’s…um, that’s awful”
She preceded to explain that she hasn’t seen him all day and that she went upstairs to the Scotsman’s flat and her husband was cowering behind him in the doorway not able to leave. I asked what she was going to do. She said she didn’t know and soon she was telling me truth about so many things. Apparently the Scotsman is ex-mafia. He was caught and ratted on his “pals” and has been hiding out in flat 8 for about 9 weeks. I didn’t believe her. Then she goes on to tell me that the reason she was fighting with her husband is because the other people had told her they saw him buying heron off the street of which he had a terrible habit he had kicked and now was back on. The reason he was a heroin addict is because he once lived in the U.S. and had a wife and two kids, which were subsequently murdered by hi wife and then she killed herself…I didn’t believe her. One quick google search of his name and face will quickly render this conversation moot…..Holy Shit it’s true!!!! Right there in google images was this guy and old newspaper clippings. I won’t reveal names or regions but it was all true…wow! I started to believe everything.
I slept in the bunk that night thinking about how crazy these nights had been. Pop up tattoo parlors, crazy husbands, an international convention in these small flats, learning all kinds of new things and info, what will happen tomorrow? Tomorrow came and I decided to do a tour to a castle and try some local music. Dan had still not come home. Me and this lovely German girl Katarina went out and came home late. Neither if us felt like dealing with the house. We got home and buzzed to go into flat 2. Nicky answered
We obliged and went to flat 4 where no one new what was going on. Soon though we decided that we must have our things and brave the unknown, so back down we went.
“Umm Nicky it’s Jon and Katarina. We just need to get some things. Is that okay?”
Nicky answered by swinging the door open an pulling us in. The house was clean, a shadow of its former pigsty. It was organized and spotless. She had us sit on the couch and preceded to explain
“I’ve called the cops”
Well there you have it. Me an Katarina looked at each other. Our eyes spoke loudly that we should have stayed in flat 4. Who needs to brush there teeth or take out there contacts right? Then more bombs dropped.
Apparently a few weeks ago done gangs members had stopped by because her junky husband hasn’t paid. They threatened to rose her at which point she said
“Go ahead, I’m HIV positive!”
BOOM! Insert bomb reference, noises, and destruction here.
“Well then we’ll wear a condom”
“Go ahead ill cut you or stab you with a needle!”
This is when Dan came home and they went to a bank and pulled out some welfare money to pay for his habit. Never the less me and Katarina starting to piece things together. The sores on her arms, pigeon disease, Dans twitchy cracked lips. Patriot missiles to the face.
Nicky quickly hustled over to the door. It was the police. She shoved us into her room and said stay here. We obliged. Nicky then told the police what she wanted while me and Katarina stood very still in the room her husband had probably shot up more than a few times. We were wary of needles or anything else that could transfer the virus. This was highly unlikely but we were not thinking in likely terms. The cops left and Nicky swung the door open throwing a sleeping blanket into my arms. You both sleep in hear tonight. Slam!
Katarina and I found a clean spot on the bed and snuggled silently waiting for the cops to come down with news. The eventually returned stating that he was not kidnapped but did not want to come down. The conversation continued with words that Didnt matter until there was nothing left to say. We went to bed, the cops left, Nicky paced. The rest if the night was also quite interesting but this is part one so hold your horses.
I awoke early. My taxi was picking me up for an early train. I kissed Katarina on the forehead and snuck out finding Nivky splayed out on the couch like fish at the Cardiff markets. I didn’t wake her and left this wonderland for good.
“They took her”
A million stories ran through my head, but the fiction was less than subtle in the truth. Apparently medical personal had shown up in the afternoon, put Nicky in a straight jacket and drug her kicking and screaming to the nut house. Dan kicked out all the surfers and then told the people he let stay that flat 4 was someone else’s apartment that was on vacation and that we had all been squatting there illegally, which would have gotten almost all of us deported very quickly.
…seems the norm
A week later a message popped up in my feed from Nicky. She confirmed the hospital stay and that Dan had told the police she was sleeping with me, Dave, and Antonio. The cops had to tell medical personnel because of the HIV and so forth. She mentioned Dan was gone, cleaned out the bank account, and she would update me later. I’m still waiting on the update.
End part 1.