Friday, August 31, 2012


It should come as no surprise to you that I am a total pansy. Not only am I terrified of spiders, heights, and all things serpentine, but I am just as afraid of the dark now as I was as a child. My siblings may fondly remember me pounding up the stairs at night as fast as my feet could carry me, arriving totally out of breath and shaking, while one of them remarked "Oh, that's just Jenni, running from the dark again." Yes. The dark is a horrible place, okay? And all basements are portals to hell. Anyway, I think we've established pansy-ness.

Mr. Awesome and I spent a full day of our stay in Orkney on a small island called Rousay which is known (at least to the three people who live there) as "the Egypt of the north," or in other words: tombs. Lots and lots of tombs.

Getting to the island was actually one of freakiest things Mr. Awesome and I have done together, because that ferry ride? NUTS! Even Mr Awesome admitted to have been terrified. He was shocked at how calm I had been, until I explained to him that my stillness was not me being calm. It was me vacating my body entirely.

When we arrived on the island, shaken but not stirred, we had what basically amounted to a treasure map with little Xs marking the spots of the tombs. Blackhammer Cairn was the first one we managed to locate, and finding it took some doing, I tell you. First of all, it was very cold, a little rainy, and super muddy. Since that kind of described our whole trip, it was sort of par for the course. But this was also a bit of a hike, in the cold, wet mud, along a steep sheep-trail, against the wind. And when we got there, we saw....nothing. Just a sort of hill with a big metal door over it. Mr. Awesome, never put-out or annoyed by anything, cheerily clicked a few photos of the grass and the view back down the hill, and turned around to leave asking "So which way next, sweetie?"

Wait, what? I just hauled my big butt up this slippery FREEZING hill against homicidal winds, after narrowly escaping death by ferry-travel, and all I get to see is this oversized lump of sod? Oh HELL no.

I walked up to that iron door and without saying a word, yanked with all my might until it slid to the side enough for me to pass. Then, without even pausing for breath, I did one of the most badass things I've ever done in my life: I climbed right down into the subterranean gloom of a prehistoric tomb BY MYSELF and when I got there, you know what I said?

Pass me the camera, Pansy.

Those nightmares I had for the next few days were totally worth this moment.

This is Yarso, a two storied cairn, looking down into the lower level just before I climbed down that ladder.

Don't be fooled by the light on this one, that's the flash from the camera. Otherwise the pool of light at the bottom of the ladder is the only light down there.

Midhowe Cairn, aka The Giant Ship of Death. It's the biggest and most recent tomb we saw, and since it's above ground and covered by an aircraft hanger, it would seem less scary. Archaeologists did find the remains of 25 people in this thing, though.
I'd like this story to have some sort of moral to it, something about being brave or taking risks or something. But in reality, it's just a story about this one time when I surprised everyone, including myself, by climbing down into a tomb alone. Then again, I was also completely aware that Mr. Awesome had my back, and that he would immediately follow me into the dark. Isn't there a song about that?

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