The president of the university’s pony society told me to hop on Bus 15, ride it until I passed the city limit sign, and then to follow a series of walking directions to arrive at a farm to ride for my first time. However, she explained this to me via my prepaid phone, in a thick Scottish accent, and half of her instructions were lost in the ether. Throwing caution to the wind, (and there’s a lot of wind here, especially (and famously) in front of the David Hume Tower, but that’s another story) LaMarcus Ford II, ’14 and Biology major, and I arrived in St. Andrew’s Square five minutes early, at 1:05. However, the entire boulevard was unexpectedly under a siege of bulldozers and cranes and thousands of construction workers, so we instead found a close bus stop and hoped for the best. We were still hoping when Bus 15 casually rolled down the opposite side of the street twenty minutes later, but I was so desperate to ride a pony that I dragged LaMarcus along and we chased it for half a mile. In the process, LaMarcus lost some hangers from his backpack (don’t ask) and I inexplicably lost half my bus fare. I wore rain boots (or “wellies”) since I was also instructed to bring those along, and they were very heavy and not the best footwear for a literal car-chase. At one point, the driver was (finally) caught at a red light, and he pointed me toward the next stop through the glass.
We sat down on the top floor of the double-decker, and vegged while the Medieval buildings slowly faded into smaller stone houses until even those gave way to fields and fields of sheep. I watched intently for the Edinburgh city limit sign, but never saw it. When the next town’s welcome sign passed by, it seemed like the best time to hightail it off the bus and to find the farm. We were dropped at a corner surrounded by four kitty-corner fields a la The Wizard of Oz. These empty crop squares stretched to the horizon in every single direction (I’m still partially wondering what sort of demand prompted this stop to be built.) We wandered around in small circles while deciding which way to go (pretty randomly,) and we roamed the roads and cornfields for a half an hour plus a half an hour plus a half an hour (I’m a little ashamed) before we found an Esso. This healthy chunk of time allowed for sneaking and then blatant panic that I was lost in some foreign country, perhaps (literally) in the middle of nowhere without buses or cars or that familiar ole Metrolink to deliver me to the doorstep of Blaisdell. Needless to say, I welcomed any doorstep, and wandered inside the station where I shamefully called the president for the fourth time to get more walking instructions. She explained them in the same accent to my same phone, and although I immediately understood her, I had forgotten almost everything by “End Call.”
LaMarcus and I wandered up an unfortunately steep path by a golf course and ended up by an artificial ski slope. During our first days in Edinburgh, our program director pointed to it from the ninth floor of that David Hume Tower I mentioned earlier; it was hardly a sliver on the horizon, and he likened it to an ugly toothbrush. Realizing just how far I’d wandered from campus into the wilderness, I flagged down a random woman who directed us to cross the course, which would be fine, she ensured us, as long as we watched out for the golfers. With little choice and a lot of desperation, we hopped the fence onto the green. The course was sloped and settled on a gigantic hill (I’m unsure of when these creep into “mountain” territory,”) and the view was spectacular. Arthur’s Seat, which I breathlessly climbed last week, looked like a little anthill amidst the sprawl of Edinburgh, and it was my best view of the North Sea I’ve been able to catch yet. Despite being lost for upwards of two hours, the scenery of the Scottish hills was so breathtaking that I have a second hike planned there tomorrow.
(I feel like I should note, for closure’s sake, that yes, we did eventually find the ponies and my first ride was amazing! I asked the president if the animals kept with the ponies were oxen, and she laughed at me, as they were Highland Cattle. The views, as we climbed higher, only improved, and thankfully I had help with the legwork this time—thanks Yarrow!)