Ciorstan – My Costa Rica experience


I’m not quite sure how to sum up my experience in Costa Rica. It was amazing. Exhausting. Life changing. Exciting. Hot. Incredible. A great learning experience. Banter. The happiest two weeks of my life. Better than I could have ever imagined.

Before the trip, I didn’t know what to expect. Despite being excited and counting down the days, I was also nervous and apprehensive. I was worried about the bugs, about the food and what I thought would be a complete culture difference. My number one worry however was meeting the people. I had no idea how we were supposed to communicate when we didn’t speak the same language. I thought we would have nothing to connect over. I still hate bugs, but we had cockroaches and massive spiders in our bathroom and survived. I ate vast quantities of rice and beans, but also had pizza, a lot of cereal and the best cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. And after spending a mere 6 days in Rey Curre, I was sitting in the bus, driving away from the village for the last time, crying my eyes out. Because we had connected. Despite the language barrier, we were able to communicate, and we created a bond that was truly special.

And there is no doubt in my mind that my favourite part of the trip was the people. From our Scottish group to the Costa Ricans and the Portuguese, I can’t imagine ever doing this trip without the same people. I became such close friends with everyone and they will all always hold a place in my heart. I think here in Britain we have a tendency to be quite closed off, we are very polite but sometimes don’t show much affection towards others. However over in Costa Rica, everyone was so warm, welcoming and truly genuine, and I think we need more people like that in Scotland. Everyone we passed gave us a smile and said Buenos Dias to us. And the people in the villages, specifically for me in Rey Curre, were some of the nicest I’ve ever met. It was easy to spend time with them as they themselves really wanted to get to know us, taking our phones so they could ask us something on Google translate, helping us with anything we didn’t understand and giving us an abundance of big hugs. When we were feeling hot, exhausted and overwhelmed, their beautiful smiles truly helped lift our spirits. One of my favourite memories is teaching them the cup song and then spending hours doing it non stop!

The trip changed me in many ways. Before I would have described myself as a relatively shy, quiet and introverted person and I’ll be the first to admit that my communication skills and confidence are something I struggle with. But I think this experience really brought me out my shell, and exposed a fun side of my personality that some people don’t see. I certainly laughed more than I ever have before. And because of the nature of the trip, you couldn’t just sit at the sidelines and watch, you had to get stuck right in, and because of this my confidence really grew and I reached the point were I was totally comfortable standing up in front of a room or hall full of people, introducing myself in a language I didn’t know and talking to them. It’s also given me a strong desire to see more of the world, visit new places, experience more cultures and have more adventures like this.

I found myself learning all the time, from small words in Spanish and Portuguese (I doubt I’ll ever forget the words to head, shoulders, knees and toes in Portuguese I’ve sung it so much) to how to make cotton. I learned so much about different cultures and the process of sharing all three was something I really enjoyed. In particular I loved watching some of the young people demonstrate some traditional dances which we got to learn a little bit of. And then in turn we taught them some Ceilidh dances, which was a completely different style but the picked it up and seemed to really like it. It made me proud to see how much they enjoyed the few tasters we gave them of our culture, and excited for them to have the full immersive experience next year.

Overall the trip was just amazing. I made so many happy memories that I will always cherish and created and solidified so many friendships that I know will stay strong – we have already video called several times. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved from Costa Rica for giving us an unforgettable time, the group from Portugal for going out of their way to help us and extending a hand of friendship, and the Scottish leaders for all their hard work and not just being great leaders, but great company.  I am so incredibly grateful for being given this opportunity and can’t wait for our friends in Costa Rica to come visit us here in Scotland and see how beautiful it is. I hope they’ve got some warm jumpers!

Bha eòlas iongantach orm ann an Costa Rica. Chunnaic mi seallaidhean àlainn, dh’ionnsaich mi rudan ùra agus rinn mi mòran charaidean ùra. Bha mo chuid fàbharach den turas a ‘coinneachadh ris na daoine. Bha iad uile glè chàirdeil agus aoigheil agus tha mi cinnteach gum bi sinn fhathast nan caraidean. Dh’fhàs mi mar dhuine agus dh’fhàs mi nas misneachaile. Dh’ionnsaich mi cuideachd mòran rudan ùra, nam measg cànanan. Chòrd e rium a bhith a ‘roinn nan diofar chultaran, agus bha mi a’ còrdadh rium a bhith a ‘teagasg dannsa Albannach. Rinn mi mòran cuimhneachain toilichte agus tha mi glè thaingeil airson na cothrom.






Gingerbread Cake Recipe

The recipe I made was gingerbread cake. Although I’m not sure if it’s a predominantly Scottish food as I’m sure it’s eaten in other places as well, it is very popular here in Scotland. We make it every so often in our house to eat as a snack with a cup of tea, more so in the winter months, but it can be eaten all year round. We have quite a few different recipes for gingerbread cake but the one I made today is an old family one that was passed on to us from my Granny.

Airson mo reasabaidh, rinn mi ceic dinnsear. ‘S e seo mòr-chòrdte ann an Alba gu h-àraidh nuair a ithe le cupa tì. Ann mo theaghlach sinn ga dhèanamh gu math tric. Tha an reasabaidh mi tha air a chleachdadh an seann teaghlach reasabaidh a chaidh seachad air a chur thugainn bho mo sheanmhair.

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Interview Summary

Bhruidhinn mi ri mo nàbaidh Moireach Caimbeul.  Rugadh e ann an Aoineart agus chuir e seachad a’ mhòr-chuid de a bheatha ann am Port nan Long, ann an sgìre Mhinginis, san Eilean Sgitheanach ann an Alba.  Bhruidhinn Moireach air mar a tha na prìomh eadar-dhealachaidhean anns a’ choimhearsnachd a-nis rim faicinn a thaobh an cànain agus dòigh-beatha nan daoine.  Nuair a bha esan òg, bha a h-uile duine bruidhinn Gàidhlig, ach an-diugh is e a’ Bheurla a bhruidhneas iad.

Ach tha cuid de rudan fhathast an aon rud mar na Geamaichean Gàidhealach a bhios a’ gabhail àite/gan cumail ann am baile Phort Rìgh gach samhradh mar a bhà nuair a bha Moireach òg.

Tha Moireach cuideachd a’ bruidhinn air cho cudromach ‘s a tha e a bhith sgaoileadh fiosrachaidh.   Chòrdadh e ris nam bruidneadh sean ri òg agus nam biodh daoine eòlach air seann chleachdaidhean agus dualchas an eilein aca fhèin.

I spoke to my neighbour Murray Campbell. He was born in Eynort and spent the majority of his life in Portnalong, in the Minginish area of the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Murray spoke about how the main differences in the community now are the language in everyday use, and the lifestyle of the people. Rather than everyone speaking Gaelic, everyone now speaks English.

However some things are still the same.  The Highland Games still take place in Portree as they did when Murray was young. He also spoke about the importance of sharing knowledge and experience by passing on traditions from the old to the young.

Murray Campbell; Moireach Caimbeul


Seo mo nàbaidh Moireach Caimbeul. Tha e air fuireach ann am Minginis a’choimhearsnachd fad a bheatha, agus tha e ag obair ann an Taigh-staile Thalaisgeir agus air a chroit cuideachd.

This is my neighbour Murray Campbell. He has lived in the community of Minginish all his life, and works in Talisker Distillery as well as on his croft.

Introduce yourself (When were you born? Where did you grow up?)

“I was born in 1951 in Eynort, and grew up and spent the majority of my life in Fiscavaig, near Portnalong. My father was from Skye, from Carbost- this very croft where we are now. My mother came from Ness on Lewis, in a small place called Swainbost.

I spent my school days in Portnalong, and then for a short time, in Portree. In those days there was a junior secondary school in Portnalong but it closed its secondary side when I still had a year and a half to do of school, so that last year and a half of schooling was done in Portree. “

Describe what your community was like when you where growing up. Has it changed or is it the same?

“The main thing was that everybody spoke Gaelic – which is one of the main differences now. All the families that were here at the time had moved from Lewis and Harris and they all just spoke Gaelic – in fact some of the people who came here couldn’t speak English when they first arrived. One of the reasons I went to school was so I could learn English.

The community has changed a lot of ways. The amount of people that live here now has doubled or even trebled. Back then every croft just had one house and one family, and nowadays there’s up to three or four on each. Again, back then the way people lived and worked was different. The main diet, for example, was fish. In the Loch around here there was plenty fish to be had and it was one of the only things they could get to eat when they first came here. They fished for mackerel, haddock, herring, saithe, lythe – all those sorts of things which you can no longer get in the Loch. The work was mainly just building roads and houses for themselves. When people first came from Lewis and Harris, they landed at Portnalong pier where the government had built a big wooden shed, which was like a big hall, and that’s where they spent their first few days of their life on Skye. The government had also split the area up into crofts and built small sheds, or huts as they used to call them, on each croft, and the men of the family were sent out to choose a croft and a hut for themselves. When they found the place they wanted, they would put their name in the window to claim it as theirs, and then go back to the big shed at Portnalong to collect their family and the few belongings they had taken with them from the Outer Isles. And that’s how they started life here from which it built up to the way it is now.”

Is there a community tradition or festival you remember being part of?

“The highland games in Portree is the only thing I can remember well. It was the highlight of the year for us. Places used to shut down for that one day, like the workers at the distillery used to get a days holiday for the highland games. It was, and still is, a big day on Skye.”

What role do you think museums have in communities?

“There’s no such museum in Carbost, even less back then, but it’s definitely important to teach people about communities and the old ways of life.”

What advice would you give to young people about preserving traditions and the community’s way of life ?

“A good way is to record it all, speak about experiences and share knowledge, like we are doing now. The only way we can hold onto traditions is by passing them on to future generations, by the young people speaking to the older members of the community- those that are left- and try and preserve our heritage. Gaelic is something that is especially important to keep. It used to be spoken by everyone, but then came a period where there was a trend not to speak it and because of that there’s a whole age group who are missing that ability. Many of those people regret this and it would be a shame for today’s young people to have that regret as well.”

Ciorstan: My favourite place – An t-àite as fheàrr leum


S’ e tràigh Ghleann Bhreatail an t-àite as fheàrr leum san Eilean Sgitheanach. Tha an tràigh, aig a bheil làrach-campachaidh agus buth cuideachd, faisg air mo dhachaigh. Anns an t-samhradh tha e gu math trang oir tha seallaidhean àlainn ann dhen Chuilthionn. Bidh mòran dhaoine a’ snàmh anns a mhuir – ach tha e uabhasach fuar!

Glenbrittle_Nov_08_3[1]My favourite place on Skye is Glenbrittle beach. The beach, which also has a campsite and a small shop that sells little things such as ice creams, is only about 10 minutes away from my house. Because it is so close by, me and my family often go to the beach and have been doing so since I was little – we have hundreds of pictures of us from over the years making sand castles, flying kites and having piggy back races. In the summer it can be quite busy, as it is popular with tourists because of its scenery with beautiful views of the Cuillins. However, during the rest of the year it is fairly quiet, meaning you can walk along the sand, enjoy the peacefulness and relax. Many people paddle or swim in the sea, usually only in the warmer months but my sisters and I have been known to go swimming here in December – it is very cold!


Ciorstan: Museums- Thaighean tasgaidh

Tha mi a’smaoineachadh gur e am priomh adhbhar a th’ann airson taigh tasgaidh a bhith agad nad choimhearsnachd gum bi àite ann a tha solaraich fiosrachaidh mu dheidhinn an sgìre agus na daoine an dòigh beatha san latha an diugh agus anns na làithean a dh’fhalbh. Dh’fhaodadh e mar eisimpleir taisbeanaidhean a dhèanamh air an cultar aonadail.

I think the role of museums within communities is to provide information about the area and the people’s way of life – in the present day and in the past. It’s somewhere you can find out about a community’s culture, traditions, landscape and see various objects that mean something to those people.

Ciorstan: Winter on Skye/ Geamhradh air t-Eilean Sgitheanach


You always know when winter is coming on Skye when darkness begins to fall earlier making the days shorter, and the Cuillins become sprinkled with snow. The weather becomes even wetter and windier than it usually is throughout the year, and the air becomes crisp and cold, making scarfs and warm jackets a necessity.

One of my favourite traditions that happens during winter in my community is the Christmas Eve carol singing in Carbost. A small group of young people and our families wrap up warm and go round each house in the village singing Christmas songs and wishing everyone a merry Christmas, collecting money for the local Rainbows and Brownies as we do so. We end the evening at the pub to warm up and have a chat, with plenty of Christmas cake, juice for the children and mulled wine for the adults. It never fails to get me in a Christmas mood and bring some cheer to everyone in the village.


Ciorstan: My Hopes and Fears/ Mo dòchasan agus eagalan



My hopes for this project is to learn more about our culture here on Skye and other cultures, as well as gaining more confidence in myself and building up friendships. I am very excited to go explore Costa Rica and see the beautiful scenery, the rainforest and wildlife. Hopefully we’ll get to see some interesting animals which will be a change to all the sheep we have on Skye!

My fears for this project are first and foremost the insects. I’m not a big fan of spiders or bugs! My other main worry is how far Costa Rica is from Skye and how different everything will be. I think it will be a bit of a shock but I also think it will be exciting and a fun adventure.