Witnessing Scottish History: The Campaign for Independence

Witnessing Scottish History: The Campaign for Independence

Have you ever traveled to a country at a historic time?

I am in Scotland during the days before the Scottish people vote whether to split from the United Kingdom. The country is plastered with stickers that say “Yes” and “No, thanks.” People are out on the streets, giving out postcards and pins that state their claims and trying to convince anyone who hasn’t yet made up her mind.

I’m just a traveler here, and Scotland’s issues are not my issues.

According to polls, the country is practically split in half–with a historic number of people registering to vote. Every vote counts, and the stakes are high.

Scottish History
I visited Scotland during a historic time.

From the many conversations I’ve had, it seems like the “Yes” people want to have their own country that doesn’t get entangled in foreign affairs and that spends money on education instead of nuclear weapons. The “No, thanks” people are happy being in the United Kingdom because they like that they are part of a well-respected country, appreciate the strong economy, and feel like Scotland has enough autonomy right now.

Everyone I speak to has a very strong opinion, and then, after a full explanation of his/her beliefs, wants me to share my take. But, I always answer, I don’t have one. I’m just a traveler here, and Scotland’s issues are not my issues.

It feels almost ridiculous that I, a tourist, am able to have such a freeing experience in a place facing such a momentous decision.

One of the best parts of traveling is getting outside of your own reality, seeing how other people live and learning what they care about. After living through a summer in Tel Aviv filled with rocket sirens and bomb shelter runs, I was ready to take a break from my everyday life.

Scottish History
It feels like the pro-Scottish independence people are more vocal than their opponents.

Scotland is a beautiful land with rolling green hills and extraordinarily friendly people. It feels almost ridiculous that I, a tourist, am able to have such a freeing experience in a place facing such a momentous decision.

But there I was in Glasgow, taking a nap in Queen’s Park and then walking up and down Buchanan Street, dancing to the bagpipes while a crowd gathered around a televised “Yes” rally.

And there I was in Stirling, walking the steep path to the castle and deciding to forego it after all because I didn’t feel like a history lesson just then.

And there I was in Edinburgh, climbing the breathtaking Arthur’s Seat hills alone, reaching the peak, clutching the jagged rocks in the wind, and staring at the beautiful white clouds.

Scottish History
The steep climb of Arthur’s Seat was well worth it.

Witnessing Scottish History: The Campaign for Independence

On my way down, I heard more than one traveler talking about love–not their own love, but true love in general. I guess that they too had something on their minds other than Scottish independence.

Then while roaming Glasgow’s West End, a shop owner told me why he was voting “Yes.” When he asked me what I thought, I told him I didn’t have an opinion.

But suddenly I realized that was no longer true.

Witnessing History in Scotland: The Campaign for Scottish Independence
The amazing view from the top of Arthur’s Seat

 

While I traveled to Scotland to escape, I’ve managed to get caught up in the politics–so much so that on my fourth day here, I had an hour-long one-sided conversation with my husband in which I argued each perspective with equal amounts of passion, and finally chose a side.

I guess that’s why I love traveling to complicated places. It allows me to leave my own baggage behind and experience a new reality. I get to see the hopes and dreams of other people — and get caught up in those too.

About Rachel Sales

Rachel SalesRachel Sales is a co-founder of Pink Pangea.

One thought on “Witnessing Scottish History: The Campaign for Independence

  1. Emily Fernandez
    Emily Fernandez
    September 18, 2014
    Reply

    Great article, exciting times!
    Most beautiful country in the world!

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