This was the annual meeting of the Scottish Esperanto Association—like Toronto, a 3-day event. It was held at a lovely old hotel. About 25 people were there, including several from Ireland and England, one from Armenia (the president of the Armenian Esperanto Society), and a group of five from Bialystok (the birthplace of Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto). We were interested to find out that the EU had paid the travel costs of the Poles, as part of a program to encourage cultural exchanges among the various nations in the union.
|Having fun at the Kongreso|
|Les' favorite moment of the trip so far was this piper playing in front of the old church in Luss where a wedding was taking place inside.|
|Some hardy swimmers jump into Loch Lomond on a cold, wet, and windy day. Note my blown umbrella.|
We liked the fact that not every minute was filled; rather, there were lots of scheduled coffee breaks. These, along with the fact that a few others, like us, stayed an extra night at the end, meant that we got to know several people quite well. I was glad to see that, even though most participants had English as a native tongue (not the Armenian woman and the Poles), everyone spoke Esperanto all the time, and at a very high level. The funny thing is that even though many spoke Esperanto with a Scottish accent, I had little trouble understanding them, whereas occasionally when I'd hear them speak English (such as ordering in a restaurant), I missed many words.
One talk was on language rights, another on the history of Esperanto films. A woman gave a talk about her grandfather, John Logie Baird, who lived in Helensburgh and was one of the inventors of television. I gave a 30-minute talk about living on a houseboat. Les created the "slide show" for this over the past few months. I'll be doing my talk at least once more this summer.
For those of you new to this blog who want to know more about Esperanto, I discussed it in a previous posting. Or look at a recent article. The article mentions Duolingo, a popular free site for learning a foreign language. Since Esperanto became Duolingo's 13th language a couple of weeks ago, 20,000 people have signed up for its Esperanto course. (Certainly most of those just want to check it out, and won't continue for long, but it's nice to see so much interest.)
Monday we took a local train to Glasgow, traveling with two Esperantists returning to England (yes, even then we continued to speak Esperanto with them—it seemed more natural that way), and then a fast train (Les clocked it at 100 mph at times) to Stirling, where we stayed a few days in a friendly B&B. The first day we went by bus to Denny, where Les' great-great-grandfather emigrated from when he settled in Montreal. That man's son (Les' great-grandfather) kept a journal most of his life, and especially interesting is his trip to Scotland in 1893 to see where his father had come from. The journal, plus our genealogical research, gave us clues about where the family lived in Denny, so it was fun to see what the places look like presently. In the cemetery we found a stone for a whole generation of the family in the 1800s.
|King Street in Stirling. The Golden Lion Hotel is on the right, our B&B is immediately opposite on the left.|
Although Stirling wasn't in our original plan, we're very glad we ended up spending a few days in this attractive town. It probably helped that the sun finally came out; now it's sunscreen and sunglasses instead of long underwear and rain jacket. It's about 70 degrees, a lot better than the high 80s it's been in Seattle this week!
|These chimney pots are iconic in Scotland.|
|Edinburgh's "Royal Mile"|
I've gotten used to looking right first before crossing streets (Les adapted a railroad safety mantra for me: "Cars can come at any time, in any lane, from any direction"), but I'm having trouble remembering to walk on the left side of sidewalks and staircases. Also, I can't seem to internalize that 07/06/15 means June 7th, not July 6th.
We've had a great two weeks in Scotland. Tomorrow we'll be on the train to York for our new adventures in England. Stay tuned.