My experience in Costa Rica!!


Here we are, over a month since returning home to Scotland and I still can’t stop thinking about this trip and the incredible memories that were made each day. Going to Costa Rica was by far the most memorable, beautiful  and exciting experience I have ever been blessed with and it will certainly stay with me for the rest of my life. For someone who has never travelled outside of their own country before, experiencing Costa Rica with all it’s insane beauty and culture was like nothing I had ever seen.

From the very beginning, each day of this exchange brought a brand new adventure. I remember waiting, anxious and excited, before boarding my first ever flight with two weeks of unknown experiences ahead of me.

From just walking out of the plane, I could instantly feel the heat and humidity like I’d never felt before. There were new and amazing sounds, smells and visuals all around me.  We were all very tired from the long flight but this brand new environment around us was enough to keep us awake and curious. Swimming there that night in the beautiful Costa Rican ocean, the incredible view around me felt like a dream and I didn’t think that I could feel any happier than I did in that moment.

Being in Costa Rica helped me gain so much confidence in myself. I found myself doing things I could’ve never imagined, including speaking Spanish on my own in a room full of people I’d never met before and flying 65mph high across the rainforest. Although there were some struggles along the way, each day I felt even happier as new memories were made and strong friendships were built.

As an anxious person, I was really nervous before meeting the Portuguese and Costa Rican groups, I had no idea what to expect or how to communicate with them. However, they ended up being some of the best and amazing people I have ever met. Although we weren’t able to communicate so well through language, this allowed us create a different connection through sharing our culture and laughter with one another. We quickly became close with the Portuguese group and I’ll always appreciate how they helped us to interact with the Costa Ricans better as we had very little Spanish and they had very little English. The positivity surrounding these people was inspiring, their smiles were enough to make your whole day better.

Throughout our short time together, I learned so much about these villages and their way of life. I love the way that they are so passionate in keeping their culture alive and I feel very privileged to have seen their beautiful art, dances and other traditions in person. The people there were just so so lovely and I can never thank them enough for how they welcomed us into their villages. The friendships and memories made are just so special. Leaving Rey Curré on the last, my heart ached as I had to say my final goodbyes to the beautiful village and it’s amazing people – we took so many photos together, exchanging hugs and letters to hold onto every last moment we had left together. Since then we still keep in touch through facebook and video-calls, it makes me so happy that we can still connect with them from the other side of the world. They will always be in my heart.

There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing this trip was. There are just so many new incredible things that I experienced, it’s hard to take it all in. If given the chance, I would return to Costa Rica in a heartbeat and do the whole trip all over again. Everything about it was perfect and I can’t thank everyone who made it possible enough. I am really looking forward to the second part of this exchange when the young people from Costa Rica will visit Scotland. I am excited for us to share our culture, history and language with them and I hope they will enjoy it every bit as we enjoyed their country.

Chan urrainn dhomh na faclan lorg airson sealltainn dhuimh dè cho sònraitche sa bha an turas seo gu Costa Rica dhomh. Chunnaic is dh’ionnsaich mi torr mu dheidhinn an cultar, eachdraidh is nàdar a th’aca thall an sin agus rinn mi torr chairdrean phrìseil a bhitheas na mo chridhe gu bràth. Tha mi faireachdainn fada nas misneachaile is toilitche le mo fhìn as-deidh an turas seo is chan eil mi ag iarraidh cail eile ach a bhidh air-ais comhla ri mo chairdean. Tha mi coimhead air-adhart ris an darna pairt den pròiseact nuair a bhiteas na duine òige a Costa Rica tighinn gu Alba airson an cultar againne a sealltainn dh’iadsan a-nis!

Cullen Skink Soup Recipe


18516447_693449747529012_648355529_o Cullen Skink is an everyday thick soup with smoked haddock, potato, onions and leek commonly served in Scotland. The soup originates from Cullen, a fishing town on the east coast. Skink was originally a type of soup made from beef however, in the 1890’s the people of Cullen were going through some food shortages and decided to make the soup using smoked haddock instead – which the fishermen could get easily.

‘S e brot làitheal a th’ann an Cullen Skink air a dheanamh le adag smocte, buntàta, uinneanan agus leigeas. The an brot a’tighinn á Cullen, baile iasgaidh ann an Alba. Rinn mi a’bhrot seo comhla ri m’athair – leis a reasabaidh aige fhèin.


  • 1 leek (leigeas)
  • Some small potatoes (buntàta)
  • 1 small onion (uinnean)
  • One heaped teaspoon cornflour (with water)
  • 1 smoked haddock (adag smocte)
  • 15ml double cream (uachdar-bainne)
  • 3/4 pink of milk (bainne)
  • 30g butter (ìm)
  • 1/4 lemon squeezed (liomaid)
  • Salt & Pepper (to flavour) – (salann & piobar)

Step One:

Prep the vegetables by finely chopping the onion, roughly chopping the leek and chopping the potatoes in small cubes.  18472625_693449757529011_2093754072_o





Step Two: 

Put the butter into a pan and leave it to melt on medium heat. Next, add the onions and give them a quick stirr before adding the leeks. By stirring, make sure that the leeks are covered in butter and then drop the heat to low. Now put the potatoes on top of the leaks, put a lid on the pan and leave it all to steam for about 25 minutes – checking every 5 minutes. 18516726_693449780862342_834921903_o





Step Three:

Meanwhile, place another pan on low heat with the milk. Then, add the skinned and boned smoked haddock into the pan and leave it to slowly warm through, until the fish is cooked. Then remove it from the heat.







Step Four: 

When the potatoes are cooked, sieve the milk into the mixture – putting the fish aside onto a plate. Stir the mixture together and add the cornflour (that has been mixed with water to make a loose paste) and stir continuously until the soup begins to thicken. Add some salt & pepper to flavour. 18472602_693449754195678_1771183750_o







Step Five: 

Break up the fish into smaller pieces and allow it to heat up in the soup. Finish by adding the cream and a squeeze of lemon juice and leave the soup to warm through – don’t stir it too much and don’t let it boil.


Step Six:
Serve the soup with some chives sprinkled on top and some bread and you’re done! Seo an reasabaidh deiseil!


Agallamh comhla ri Shona Cormack // Summary

Airson an agallamh seo, bruidhinn mi chomhla ri mo thidsear Gaidhlig, Shona Cormack. Rugadh i ainn an 1965 ann an Inbhir Nis agus dh’fhas i suas ann an Dun Bheagan air an t-Eilean Sgitheanach.

Dh’inns i dhomh gu romh a choimhearsnach aice gu math faisg nuair a bha i fás agus bha a mhor-chuid den teaghlach aice a fuireach mun cuairt. Bu thoil dhi a bhidh dannsa agus a seinn aig ceilidhean comhla ri na chairdean aice. Chan eil i faireachdainn gu bheil a choimhearsnach cho fhaisg a-nis ge-ta.

Dh’fhas i suas leis a Ghaidhlig agus bha i ghabhal phairt anns a mhod a h-uile bliadhne. Fhathast, bhidh i bruidhinn Gaidhlig comhla ri a theaghlach aice agus a dol dhan mod comhla ri ‘ad.

Dh’inns i dhomh gu bheil i smaoineachadh gu bheil eachdraidh cudromach ris a chultair anns an t-Eilean Sgitheanach. Tha i faireachdainn gum bu choir an eachdraidh ionadail a bhi an teagasg dhan clann anns a choimhearsnachd.

Mar tidsear Gaidhlig, tha i airson s’gum bi na luchd-ionnsaigh aice a faireachdainn mar phairt dhen a chultair aca agus a faicinn de cho cudromach sa tha e. “If they don’t know where they came from, they won’t know where they’re going”

Interview with Shona Cormack

For this blog post I spoke with my Gaelic teacher from school, Shona Cormack. She grew up in Dunvegan, a small village on Skye. She spoke about what it was like growing up in her community, the different festivals and traditions there were while she was growing up and about museums on Skye and what role they have.

Airson an blog seo bruidhinn mi comhla ri mo thidsear Gaidhlig bho’n sgoil, Shona Cormack. Dh’fhas i suas ann an Dun Bheagan, baile beag air an t-Eilean Sgitheanach. Bhruidhinn i mu a choimhearsnachd aice, mu dhiofar feisean traidiseanta a bha ann nuair a bha i nas oige agus mu dheidhinn taighean-tasgaidh agus de cho cudromachd sa tha iad.

*Photo to come*

Introduce yourself (where were you born? where did you grow up?)

“I was born in Inverness in 1965 and I grew up in Dunvegan in the Isle of Skye. For the first 9 years, I lived in Uiginish, a little township on the opposite side of the loch from Dunvegan and from then on in the village itself.”

Describe what it was like in your community when you were growing up. Has it changed? Or is it the same?

“Dunvegan was a very busy and close-knit community – I had a lot of my extended family living in the same area – aunts, uncles, cousins etc. When I was young, there was a lot going on in Dunvegan – Brownies, Youth Club, films, Halloween Parties, Drama, Badminton, cèilidhs etc. As a child, I sang and danced at a lot of cèilidhs and as a teenager, I went to cèilidhs in Dunvegan Hotel every night except Sunday in the summer holidays. They were free and my friends and I taught the boys in Dunvegan to dance and they came with us to all the cèilidhs. We also enjoyed teaching the dances to tourists and people came back every year to spend holidays in Dunvegan. I don’t live in Dunvegan any more but I still think of myself as a ‘Dunvegan girl’! I don’t think it is such a close-knit community now and it no longer seems to be a centre for traditional music. That makes me sad as I feel I had the happiest upbringing I could ever have had there and it gave me a lifelong interest in traditional music. The community still seems to rally round in difficult times – eg when someone in the community is ill or needs support but it isn’t as lively a community as it once was and there aren’t the same number of events in the village or opportunities for people to get together.”

Tell me about a community tradition or festival you were part of. Are you still part of it? What do you think the future of this community tradition or festival will be?

“My mother and all her family were native speakers of Gaelic and it was important to my mother that we speak Gaelic even though my father was from Glasgow and didn’t speak it. My first primary teacher was also passionate about Gaelic and although we didn’t have Gaelic-medium education, we were encouraged to speak  read, write, sing and recite in Gaelic. I started going to local Mods when I was five and carried on singing at them until I was in my twenties. (The Mod is a Gaelic festival of song, poetry, music and drama and Mods take place at local and national level). This, and the fact that my father was an accordionist who played at most of the local dances, instilled in me a real interest in traditional music and I still go to the local and National Mod with my family every year. My husband and I encouraged our three children to appreciate their culture and they too are very committed to Gaelic and to traditional music and have attended the Mod every year since they were born. This makes me very proud as I feel we didn’t force this on them – they just automatically felt drawn to the music and culture that surrounded them in the house and in school. I hope in the years to come that their children will have access to Gaelic, Gaelic music and song and Gaelic-medium education.”

What role do you think museums have in communities?

“I think history is important to a culture and, as a high school teacher of Gaelic, I regularly tell my pupils that if they don’t know where they came from, they won’t know where they’re going. Museums are not particularly common in Skye, but I think there is a sense of history surrounding us – placenames, battle sites, ancient ruins of castles, peat cutting, old songs and stories, war memorials etc. There are some interesting museums in Skye – Giant MacAskill in Dunvegan, the Museum of Highland Life where you can experience life in a blackhouse and the Ceumannan museum in Trotternish where you can go right back to when dinosaurs roamed Skye. I feel that local history and local culture should be taught to all children living in the community. I think Portree, the main village in Skye, lacks a museum facility where tourists and locals would be able to learn more about Skye’s past, though the Dualchas Archive Centre in the Elgin Hostel does a good job of providing interesting exhibitions.”

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

“As a Gaelic teacher and the mother of 3 young people, I have spent a good part of my life encouraging young people to access the language and culture surrounding them. I don’t want to ‘make’ them learn, I want them to want to be a part of it and to see the relevance and appreciate what they have and what they might lose if they don’t feel involved. The young people are tomorrow’s community and I think it is vital that they are given the opportunity to speak the language and feel a part of the community. The most obvious way for them to do this would be to continue to use their Gaelic when they leave school, whether formally or informally, and to pass their interest and the language itself on to their children. Research has shown that Gaelic-medium education produces excellent results both academically and socially and I would urge young parents to consider Gaelic- medium education for their children for a huge variety of reasons. I would encourage the young people of Skye to have the confidence and the desire not to forget where they came from wherever they go in the world and I hope that there may be opportunities for them to stay or to return to the island once they have experienced life elsewhere. The new Gaelic school in Portree might prove to be a real focal point for Gaelic language and culture in the future and I hope that the indigenous culture continues to feature strongly in the lives of the young people of Skye.”

Mairead: Role of Museums within Communities

I think museums are an important part of a community, not only as tourist attractions but as somewhere to share a little bit more behind what makes that community special. It gives the locals a chance to share their history and culture in many different ways – they aren’t always boring old rooms. It allows them to creatively show what is important within their community and to help you understand more and feel more connected.

Tha mi a’smaoineachadh gur e rudeigin uabhasach cudromach a th’ann an taigh-tasgaidh airson a choimhearsnachd. Tha e a’toirt cothrom dhan luchd-turais an eachdraidh agus an cultar bho’n choimhearsnachd fhaicinn ann an diofar doighean cruthachail. Surrainn dhaimh a faireachdainn nas fhaisge ris an aite is a tuigsinn gu b’fhearr de tha sònraitche gu na daoine an-sin.

Mairead: An t-àite as Fheàrr Leam // My Favourite Place in Skye

As deidh smaoineachadh airson ùine fada, mu dhearadh thall thagh mi aite airson bruidhinn mu dheidhinn anns a bhlog post seo. Tha torr aiteachean air an t-Eilean Sgitheanach direach àlainn, agus cha burrainn dhomh fear a thagh a tha nas fhearr na aite eile – ach, an-diugh, tha mi a’dol a bhruidhinn air Scorrybreac.

After thinking about this for some time, I finally decided on a place on the Isle of Skye I would like to write about for this blog post. There are many beautiful places on Skye and I don’t think I could choose a favourite but today I’ve decided to talk about Scorrybreac.

Scorrybreac is a short(ish) walk along the shore in Portree – it is about 3.1km and has many beautiful spots for taking photos of the sea, mountains and wildlife. Scorrybreac is one of my favourite places on Skye as it holds many memories of when I was little – going down there with my cousins and having picnics up at the flagpoles. I remember one time about 5 years ago, me and my mum were walking along Scorrybreac when we saw two dolphins out in the sea. Another time when I was only about 5 years old, I found a snake in one of the hills and my brothers wouldn’t believe me until I showed them. Nowadays I just enjoy going down to Scorrybreac to enjoy the views and get some fresh air.

Seo dealbhan a thog mi comhla ri Hallie // Here are some photos I took with Hallie a few years ago:

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Mairead: Winter on the Isle of Skye

Geamhradh anns an t-Eilean Sgitheanach.

Winter can be very cold and miserable here on Skye with lots of rain and harsh wind – but very occasionally, it might snow and the views are wonderful. Here is a picture my mum took last year:


I’d also like to share a Gaelic song about Winter on the Isle of Skye that my Gaelic teacher recommended to me. Lyrics and a video of Arthur Cormack (well known Gaelic singer from Skye) singing the whole song can be found here :


Mairead: My Hopes and Fears

I’m sure most of us will have have quite a few fears for this project (or at least I do) but hope is always stronger than fear and by the end it will be worth it!

So the main fears I probably have are travelling, the heat and of course, insects.

I’ve actually never been on a plane before and the thought of being so high in the air is just a little bit scary  for me but I’ll keep reminding myself that flying is actually the safest way to travel! As for heat.. being from Scotland, I usually die from anything over 25°C so this will be a challenge. And I think insects are pretty self explanatory – who actually likes them?

But the many hopes I have for this project definitely out rule the fears. I am looking forward to building my confidence through the monthly workshops and learning more about Costa Rican culture as well as my own. I am especially just looking forward to experiencing something completely new, meeting new people and learning new things!