Tuesday, September 09, 2003

"Wedding in the Netherlands-"
September 9, 2003
Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Scotland

Greetings from heart of Scotland!

I thought I'd catch you all up to date on Doug and my Nederlands/Scottish adventures....

Holland was amazing. The first morning of our arrival in Holland, we awoke at sunrise (7 a.m.--no exxageration I promise) and walked in our wetsuits and borrowed boards with Kevin and another Dutchie friend-Robin to surf in the North Sea beneath a rainbow. We tasted fine Dutch cheese from around the country like fine wine--tangy, complex, zesty, sinfully creamy, danced to African drumming at Tessa's family farm in the North of Holland, watched Kevin and Tessa become betrothed in a 16th century Catholic Church replete with cobblestone floors and giant stained glass windows, biked along the canals and canopied lanes past castles, water mills, and pastures where Shetland Ponies grazed, and strolled along the canals and cafes of Amsterdam, visited the Van Gogh museum (pronounced Van Hoooch!) and performed and danced at a gorgeous watermill in the countryside until 2 in the morning with all of Kevin and Tessa's family and friends. (sang Nora Jones for their first song and got to watch Tessa's brothers, cousins, and brother's girlfriend play music throughout the night!)

Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we boarded the plane yesterday for the land of the kilts and bagpipes. (By the way, bagpipes aren't from Scotland originally, they were introduced by the Romans from Ancient Egypt. I guess the Egyptians dropped them as an instrument a rather long time ago but the highlanders took the idea and ran with it!)

Doug and I immediately fell in love with the open spaces and rolling hills of Southern Scotland. We passed tiny limestone hamlets with thatched roofs and golden fields dotted with rolled hay beneath brilliant september skies...it looked as if the scene had been lifted directly from a Van Gogh painting.

We drove into St. Andrews from the West, the Cathedral tower was illuminated by a last ray of light breaking through the clouds like a holy mecca for golf and academia. Doug is in absolute bliss. We stood on the world's oldest golf green last night outside of a private club where Sean Connery is visiting right now. Two friends of Doug's are here right now and we strolled with them beneath the moonlight along the scores--narrow winding roads that border the ocean--past castle ruins and a giant cathedral spire that towered over ancient gravestone illuminated by the moon. The sea was dark and calm and rather eerie. Our friend Dominique is attending school here at St. Andrews (the oldest University in the U.K. dating to the 15th century) where Prince William is also going to school. This place is more profoundly steeped in history than anything Doug or I have experienced. .. it's rather macabre to walk past a place where a man was burnt at the stake for heresy in the 15th century and where the form of his face screaming is burnt into the limestone face of the church for all passerbys to see.

We'll be golfing this afternoon together and then Doug and I head to the Highlands and the Island of Skye where the most famous of Scottish Clans battled for power...the McCleouds!

We look forward to exploring more of the history and landscape...and understanding what the Scottish are really telling us when we ask for directions-

My mother is doing really well and so far no problems on the Everest Trek in Nepal- Send us all your warm prayers!

Rachel and Doug