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Charlotte Juarez's Going Home
Sunday, March 23 - Ganging a Wee Bittie

Sunday, March 23rd, 2003
Mingalar, Edinburgh 7:40 a.m.

Well, I’m packed up – two bags tight as a drum, my back pack bursting at the seams, our little bag of provisions (from Tesco) of rolls and soda pop, getting ready to go to Waverly with Robbie and Nickie and Lia and Suzanne to show them “meh Dundee.” Sounds like they’re getting ready to go ….

Dunlaw House, Dundee 10:35 p.m.
The taxi came just as I settled down to write. Min Sue had ordered a taxi for five to pick us up to take us to Waverly Station, but unfortunately neglected to add we also had luggage for five. I wish we had taken a picture of us, luggage and all, crowded into the taxi. We were all either sitting on luggage, holding luggage, or, in Nickie’s case, sitting in each others’ laps. But our fun ride was brief and eventful. We either were not a noticeable sight to local Bobbies or there are no seatbelt laws or taxi crowding regulations for us to violate this Sunday morning.

Five of us left – me, Robbie, Nickie, Lia and Suzanne. Belinda and Kari who had just arrived last night opted to sleep a little longer, catch a few sights in Edinburgh and join us at Dunlaw House “around sixish.”

So, let’s see, what have I done since the 21st? Obviously I’ve been busy – so busy I’m two days behind in my “Dundee Diary.” Robbie and Nickie arrived safe and well after an uneventful trip across the Atlantic. I told them one of our New York group might not be joining us and their concerns were the same as mine – hoping she’ll change her mind and come on over.

I said their trip to Edinburgh was uneventful. Not so finding Mingalar – seems Robbie left the address and phone number back in Arizona and had to find the Edinburgh tourist board to get the address. Before they figured out the tourist board might help, they did consider just waiting at the Airport in the sure expectation that if they didn’t show up sooner or later, knowing I’m a social worker and supposedly good at solving other people’s problems, I’d find them somehow and bring them back into the fold!

But they solved their own problems, found their way to Mingalar – after a taxi trip back to the airport from Waverly Station bus stop as if retracing their steps would help them find the address or phone number – and we were all very happy to see each other.

Robbie has known me since I moved to Arizona in 1987 from Utah. She was my first boss in the renal dialysis center profession I’m now engaged in and has been a friend and a mentor ever since then. This is a woman I would cheerfully work for any time. Fortunately, I have her “twin sister” – at least in management skills and commitment to her staff – as one of my bosses right now. Maybe I can get her to come on a trip to Scotland one day and see what adventures we could get up to! I’m sure if there were a Nascar race their (which is my current boss’s recreational passion) I just might be able to persuade her ….

But, back to our story: Robbie and Nickie settled in, unpacked a little, and came with me to our Tesco supermarket to get some fruit and rolls and bridies and cold meats and have a nice lunch together in our room.

Apparently, I broke one of the shopping cart rules by selecting a cart with a child safety seat in it – I saw at least a dozen in the cart corral just like it – but did not realize these are reserved for folks with kiddies so had to return the cart and use one without a child safety seat. I found this all out when I was politely stopped by store security and firmly told to return the cart I was absconding with. See, my children, you barely left me in this now foreign homeland and see what unintended trouble I can get into! But I have an excuse, we didn’t have supermarkets in Dundee when I left in 1965, much less shopping carts, if I remember correctly – my mum and I were still going to Massey’s, Low’s, Lipton’s or the wee shoppies up off of Macalpine Road.

After having a wee bite, Robbie and Nikki crashed. I took a wee snooze, myself.

When Lia and Suzanne arrived later in the day, they had their own adventures to recount. They had indeed missed meeting Kathie, our third person from New York, and were rerouted through Ontario, Canada, from Buffalo, New York. They had adventures connecting out of Heathrow to Edinburgh because of the change in flight plan, and one of Suzanne’s bags went missing somewhere between here and wherever. But she did have her toothbrush and other necessities in her carry on – obviously, this woman has been burned before!

They weren’t too bad for jet lag when they arrived around five, but Nickie was sleeping that of the just and was absolutely unwakeable. So Robbie stayed home with her daughter while I took the other two up around Edinburgh for a little exercise and a wee bite to eat – ending up in the Grassmarket before we came home.

Saturday, (the 22nd) was a busy day. More demonstrations were planned against the war by Edinburgh students so our open top bus tour today was rerouted a little, but all the major sites were hit.

I didn’t want to do Edinburgh Castle so soon again, so we decided to do a little splitting up with Robbie and Nickie and Lia and Suzanne visiting the castle and me having some free time on the Royal Mile.

However, best laid plans, etc., being as they are, our little group of five got separated at our meeting later point by another anti-war demonstration that was gathering in front of St Giles Cathedral. I did meet up with Robbie and Nikki and said to them that I was willing to bet any money something would happen about the time of the one o’ clock gun. So, had to explain that story. And I love it when I’m right.

Now you need to understand that I support President Bush’s actions against Saddam Hussein because I see so much in the UN action, or lack of it, that is reminiscent of Chamberlain’s appeasement policy towards Hitler, and we all know what happened after the “Peace in our time” speech which seems too much like today’s “Let’s try giving him a few more months to comply” philosophy.

Amid the one sided speeches – after all this was a political rally today – came an “invitation” to “join the group when the one o’ clock sounds in a die-in.” I told Robbie and Nickie this would give us some interesting souvenir photos.

Some of the banners and signs were interesting – “Somewhere in Texas a village has lost its idiot,” “Iraqi children die, too,” “Not in my name” – and, close your eyes before reading the next few words if you’re easily offended – “The only Bush I trust is my own” statements. Those didn’t bother me.

But seeing a US flag with a skull and crossbones painted in black on it did. I’ve never encountered flag violations before and was really nonplussed. I am quite sure that if I ever encounter this again, I’ll take a stronger approach towards whomever is making a mess of one of the flags I love (the other, of course, being the Saltire). The best I could do – being so taken aback to actually see a flag being violated – was, when an individual bearing a sign stating “US Imperialists, get out of Iraq” appeared near our vantage point, was to stretch up, wave my arms wildly and yell, “Hey, over here. I’m a US Imperialist and proud of it.”

The gun went off. The crowd got down. Some laid themselves down flat on the ground. Others only sat down. I asked a few if they were only half dead since they were like the Duke of York’s men and were only halfway down, neither one thing nor the other. Got no answer. I thought this was because they didn’t know their nursery rhymes, until one of the adults in this mess of teenagers answered, “Would you please respect our die in.”

I was only too happy to respond with a “Look here, you. I’m from Dundee, but I’m also an American. And when you lot respect my country’s flag I might be more inclined to respect your half ways die-in.”

Now, lest I have lost all my readers who may disagree with my point of view, I’d like to share with you that one of our group members’ dearly beloved significant other was arrested for participating in San Francisco’s demonstration this weekend – but my friend supports the American actions. Another of our group voiced her opposition to the President’s actions while we were at dinner. That took courage to be the minority opinion, and I really respected that ability to stand up and say, basically, “This is what I believe” to individuals whom she knew had different opinions. So we’ve had some lively debates and still remain friends.

I’m so proud of my group of friends that seven strong minded, independent, emotionally adult women can have differences of opinions and remain loving friends. I wish I could spend my time with them much longer than the time we have.

Oh, we had so many adventures yesterday –

The handsome, handsome Scotsman in the Braveheart get up on the Royal Mile who was collecting funds for childhood leukemia research by posing for pictures who told me in no uncertain terms how he’d like to see Saddam dealt with, and also showed me the rampant lion tattoo that was underneath his kilt – hope the photo comes out. I later thanked Robbie and Nikki for acting as a barrier to immodesty when he showed me. They answered, “Barrier – no way! We wanted to see what was underneath the kilt and get our own pictures!”

Moving this reminiscence to a higher level, somewhat, when I came down the Mile for my own exploring there was a wedding being conducted at Saint Giles. I enjoyed watching the comings and goings of these celebrants. The men in the bridal party were in tails. A few male guests were kilted – but didn’t look the type to have rampant lions under theirs. The ladies wore hats. The bridesmaids were lovely and the bride beautiful in a simple ivory gown with a long veil. What a happy contrast to the demonstration just a little while before.

After the wedding was over, St Giles was again open to the public, and I went in to listen to the beautiful organ music, admire the beauty of the architecture and the stained glass, pay silent homage to Jennie Geddes for hurling her stool at the minister and asking “Wha daur preach papism in my lug?” and think about the mutual antagonism between John Knox and Mary Stuart. A busy place, indeed, is the history and the current life of St Giles.

I visited the writer’s museum with Lia and Suzanne before they went further down the mile to explore Huntley House and Holyrood Palace. I found this museum to be a very rewarding memory for me with its displays and artifacts associated with Burns, Scott and Stevenson. My literary soul was filled and delighted.

We did all manage to meet up back at Mingalar; Belinda and Kari arrived about the same time we got back. So, after whoops of glee (with which Belinda and I usually meet or begin telephone conversations) we all trooped back up town again with the intention of having dinner at Greyfriar’s Bobby’s. Unfortunately, they had stopped serving by the time we got there, so unlike Bobby we got neither pie nor bun and had to content ourselves with a visit in the dark to the graves of Bobby and his master, “Auld Jock” and another visit to the fountain for man and beast that honors “wee Bobby.”

We did find a lively and lovely Italian restaurant not too far away in the Grassmarket where we had a great reasonably priced meal for the seven of us before, once more, trooping back to Mingalar for our night’s sleep.

It’s now almost 12 midnight – I’m still a day behind – but it will have to keep till tomorrow when I’m in Dundee. Girls’ Road Trip is a success, we’re all thinking of who would like to do this with each other another year, and all is well, all is well.

Ganging a Wee Bittie – Photos

A card I bought from Friends of Greyfriars Kirk

Edinburgh Skyline from North Bridge

Washing windows in a tenement in the Royal Mile, from the top of our bus

Lia feeling the cold on the top of the bus in the Royal Mile, at the Churchyard
where Adam Smith, the economist, and Clarinda, Robert Burns dear friend are buried

Detail of the Church from the open top bus

If you look very, very closely, you’ll be able to see the 4,000 marchers against the war on Princes Street. This is the group that caused the bus tours to be re-routed. Photo taken from a pend on the Royal Mile looking over to the Scott Monument

Detail of the building roofs at St. Giles and Tolbooth Square

Dying for their Die-In

Lia and my Braveheart friends near the Castle – sadly I lost the roll of film with his under the kilt tattoo, but Robbie said she has her photo and if I pay her a lot of money she might let me have a copy!

A St.Giles Wedding

Me and my friend John Knox just inside St Giles

One of the many catafalques in St Giles – sorry it is so dark

Robbie and Nikki ready for services in St Giles

And a piper in the Royal Mile with a tune to send us home

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