Serendipitous Encounters in northern Scotland

Serendipitous Encounters in northern Scotland
Thank you to Jackie and Vince for your kindness!

We were on our way to Ullapool after retracing our wheels 40+ miles along a long, long single lane road through deforested timberlands. We'd already cycled this road in one direction, but following a series of (un)fortunate events, we'd turned around and decided to go back a ways.

Arriving back to Altnahara gave us a window of interenet signal to research our new plan, all while standing in someone's driveway for nearly an hour. We needed new supplies shipped out to us, so we settled on a campground in Ullapool, just in time to celebrate Steven's birthday.

While standing by the road staring at our phones, we didn't notice a couple approaching until they said hello. Three friendly faces greeted us, including their dog companion, and a bright conversation ensued.

Remember our mantra, everything is always working out?

Steven explained his tire issues and that's when they shared a bit of serendipitous information with us.

They had the exact plugs we needed for the tire punctures.

Here we were in the middle of the Highlands, standing at the end of a driveway in a tiny hamlet, when visitors from Kent just so happen to walk by with the very supplies we needed.

These specific mega plugs are rare and not always easy to find, even online.

This journey surprises us again and again.

The goods were in their campervan a few miles back, but they offered us their phone number and said to call if we needed them at any point along the way to Ullapool. Their generosity was a balm, especially after the previous day's events.

They told us about traveling around Africa for three years in a converted army vehicle. There are so many stories packed into that sentence and we managed to hear only a few wild moments in our time together. Now they live in Kent and travel part-time in their campervan, going where the wind blows them with an air of adventure and joy for life.

We chatted for a long time before they continued on to a nearby cafe at the Altnahara hotel and that's where we met them again. The previous day's tea with Hugo had me in a state of nostalgia, so we settled down at the cafe to finish our research and enjoy not a cup, but a whole pot of tea.

One Human Family?

It was here outside this cafe where we met another couple enjoying their holiday. They pulled up on bikes to a nearby table and soon we chatted with them as well. The lighthearted conversation conveyed their curiosity about our journey and when they got up to leave, one of the two came over to us. She said,

"I have a son about your age and he would love what you're doing. Here, I want you to have this in support of your adventure." She proceeded to hand us some cash, insisting we take it and spend it on whatever we need.

We gratefully received her gift, once again awed by the generosity of humankind. We are all part of one big human family and this is the spirit we carry on into the world, wishing to share it with people from all walks of life.

Our privledge in all of this is apparent.

As two white people from England and the US / Germany, we recognize our path to this journey has been easier than it would be for others. I often wonder how much our appearance influences the responses we receive when out on the road.

That's also why we are out on the road. To meet people who don't look like us and who hold different opinions. A path to co-existence with all our fellow humans means looking outside the boundaries, asking others about their experience and learning how we can meet all the many diverse needs while caring for the very planet offering us life.

This journey is about confronting the world order, diving into the history of colonialasm and systems of oppression, and calling out the many discriminatory practices still in place today.

We all share a heartbeat and red blood, but are we living as one human family?

Written by Karla Sanders @karlasandersart | Photos by Steven Tiller @steventiller