Looking Back

Looking back, it seems that my luck remained in Ireland the moment that the plane left the tarmac, because by the time I touched down in Edinburgh an hour later, I was about to have one of the unluckiest days of my life.

Sure, one could say that luck had nothing to do with it, and the circumstances were caused by my decisions (such as declining insurance on the rental car) or lapses in perception (would a brewery really be open after sundown on a dark, unpopulated road?) but I don't think that's the case. And I'm getting ahead of myself.

Not long after leaving the airport, I managed to scratch the rental car past the point of "this will buff out" and knew that the £750 deposit was not going to be returned to me. I couldn't believe itóthat was more than the cost of my entire flight after allóbut I accepted my fate and headed out on the A9 towards Inverness. With my girlfriend Victoria at my side, I navigated the beautiful woodland road to a small park with a visitor's center and cafe. Eager to get out, stretch, and eat (after all, the American mainstay of roadside eateries is nonexistent in Scotland), I quickly saw a deserted area. It had closed for the holidays. Yesterday. No food, no bathroom break, no nothing.

We did eventually eat, thankfully, and I was able to pick up a brochure for something that seemed fitting for me: a tour of the Black Isle Brewery, just outside of Inverness. I double-checked online (with fleeting Wi-Fi) that they would be open. There was no indication that they wouldnít beóeven the reassuring statement appeared that they were open six days a week all year round. I knew I had until 6:00 PM to get to the brewery, and after missing the turn three times (the directions conveniently misprinted the contents of the sign I was supposed to read for the turn-off) and relying on guesswork, I felt I was on the correct road by 5:15. This being winter, it was dark at this hour and may as well have been midnight, and there was not another car on this road, nor streetlamps to light the way or indicate which roads I was on. Miraculously however, I located the small brewery. Only it was dark. The sole inhabitants were two horses in a pen next to the tasting room. All I wanted after the day I endured was to taste delicious flavor that arises when malted barley, hops, yeast, and water mix together. And now that dream was dead.

Defeated, I drove back to Inverness. My only solace was that I would finally get to try haggis tonight, the traditional Scottish dish that's unsurprisingly hard to come by in my hometown of Los Angeles. Victoria reassured me that, in the end, despite all the stresses of the day, at least I could get some haggis. We stopped in a pub and ordered a couple pints. As we got our glasses of Deuchars IPA and examined the menu, I got the final punch in the gut: I must have stopped at the only pub in Scotland that doesn't serve haggis.

Time heals all wounds and the next morning the curse had lifted: I found out my credit card covered the damage to the rental car, we visited Loch Ness on a gorgeous day (and Iím pretty sure I spotted Nessie), and went to the most amazing place I've traveled heretofore in my life: the Isle of Skye. Maybe I wasnít so unlucky after all.

M Jeffrey

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