May 24, 2005

On the ground

It's 9:37 am (Sorry, 0937). I don't know if the touring couple on the ferry was interested in hitchhikers, as I never got a chance to ask. I did, however, meet a very nice couple who are actually on Islay for business - Sam, the wife, is organizing an environmental rally here on the island. She and Scot, her husband, also explained to me why I was unable to find a bed - next week, apparently, is the Whisky Festival, and folks have been securing lodging by purchasing week-long blocks to be sure of having a slot next week. Scot noted that one gent working with them had to make upwards of thirty calls to find a bed, and ended up having to exploit local connections hard.

So I don't feel quite so slacker in my lack of prep. Not that any of that excuses it.

In any case, after a nice chat on the ferry, I bid them goodbye - but as I was walking off, Scot came up to me. Sam was putting up posters in town, he was to meet her in forty minutes, and he offered to give me a lift out to Ardbeg, the furthest of the three distilleries up the coast road from Port Ellen. I accepted gladly, and he cheerfully zipped me the four or so miles up the lane - we discussed his attempts to get Linux running on their computer, stymied so far (apparently by a bit of British software named Serif). I resolved to send him and Sam a copy of NLD - spread the word, brother. Spread the word.

Now, however, it's 0942, and I'm sitting at a picnic table outside the Ardbeg Distillery Cafe. They open at 1000, I believe- no sense trying the door before then. Various folks are about their business - two strapping gents are working on the landscaping, and I heard (and have walked around back to see) another couple shifting barrels. Ah. Barrels. Empty but redolent with the smell of life itself.

Haven't spoken to anyone yet- all have just nodded and grinned at me. This is somehow even more friendly - the fact that strange Americans with Powerbooks sitting around at their place of work in the morning with nothing apparently to do is normal.

This means the pilgrimage is understood.

I will drink whisky here.

If I'm fortunate, as I walk back towards Port Ellen, Lagavulin will forgive my lack of foresight and allow me entry despite my failing to have phoned ahead first. We will see. If not, I completely understand - I'll wander aboout nearby, have a look at the ocean from near where the Lagavulin issues forth, and smoke a cigar in homage.

Four mile walk back, and the ferry isn't until 1800. This is good. The air is...not clean, there's a whiff of diesel in it from ships and from the various trucks shifting about, but it's definitely ocean air, and there's the hints of peat smoke and malt in it, wonders of fire and gold.

Hm, time to go inside.

Posted by jbz at May 24, 2005 5:05 AM | TrackBack

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