Loch Ness

Expat Story: Git a cot fuur da vodka

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American Bethany recalls an encounter on a train with a well-meaning if incomprehensible Scot, six years before choosing to make Scotland her home.

It was June 15, 2001 and hard to believe that Adam, my boyfriend of four years, and I had already been backpacking around Europe for three weeks. We began in London and made our way contently up the British isle. The air was still crisp, even cool and it was refreshing to be abroad with the man that I loved.

We travelled by train because of how inexpensive and convenient it was. I had never been on a train before as in Colorado the primary mode of transportation was by plane for far distances and by car within the state. It was exciting and the train system was all too easy to hop on and hop off in different cities.

We made travelled from London to Bath via the Cotswolds and then up towards York, all lovely English cities. We then moved further north across the border into Scotland. We began in Edinburgh which is ironic because six years later Adam (who is now my husband) and I chose to make the amazing city our permanent home.

Edinburgh panorama
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Edinburgh was enchanting and almost seemed to be a movie set; it was just too beautiful and perfect to be real. The light was luminous and the greenery everywhere made me feel like I was in a fairytale. The Edinburgh people were amazing although, primarily English. After our visit in Edinburgh we decided to take the train up into the highlands where we could see a more rural and traditional Scottish way of life.

From Edinburgh we took a train route through Aviemore and ended up in Inverness; the home of the infamous Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Adam and I sat down and settled in for a long train ride. As the train progressed north the rolling green hills transformed into mountainous highlands dotted with white sheep and shaggy highland ‘coos’ or cows. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous and as the train continued to chug along, the rocking motion put Adam and I both into a content and peaceful sleep.

We were awoken by a hyena-sounding laugh accompanied by a slur of completely unrecognisable words. As we awoke the scruffy, burly, and seriously animated Scottish man began to direct his attention to us. He appeared by his intonation to be asking us a question but with all of my focus and brain power I couldn’t for the life of me understand a single word he was saying.

I began to feel as though the Scottish man was becoming frustrated as he could clearly understand Adam and me but we couldn’t understand him. He then sought one of his friends to help in the communication barrier. They accused us of being Stuffy English (the Scots feel passionate dislike for most English people) and we had to explain that we were not English but we didn’t understand what they were saying. At this point it was downright hilarious for both us and them.

Loch Ness
Loch Ness from Fort Augustus
We introduced ourselves but when the husky, burly chap said his name is sounded like ‘Din’. After he repeated it and finally spelled it out we figured it was Dean. He then commanded us to ‘git a cot and uh cok fur da vuddka.’ We looked slightly puzzled and instantly busted into laughter as did he.

He repeated it, ‘git a cot and uh cok fur da vuddka.’ We asked him to repeat yet again and between his slight intoxication, his thick highland Scottish accent and uncontrollable spurts of laughter we heard, ‘geet a cott and a coke fuurr daaa vudddka.’ In hysteria, we stood up and went to the dining car to get a cup and a coke for the vodka that we shared with our new friends in a very hospitable, unforgettable, and mostly incomprehensible train ride to Inverness.

Bethany Smith wrote her Expat Story as a 24-year-old living in Edinburgh, Scotland, doing her Masters degree in International and European Politics. She arrived in Edinburgh with her husband, Adam, in July 2007. They had previously lived only in Colorado and have found the opportunity to live abroad a wonderful and enriching experience.

Reprinted from ExpatWomen.com, the largest free global website helping expatriate women living overseas.

Photo credits: Toast with blue cups by JMRosenfeld; Princes Street Gardens by dpicker; Loch Ness by conner395 (all Flickr.com)
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