Running into Your High School Bestie Halfway Around the World

Day 115, Grand World Voyage

Friday, April 28, 2023; Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland, U.K.

I don’t usually have internet access while on shore, but today I was carrying my Skyroam hotspot while on an excursion to the north end of the Isle of Skye. When my phone pinged, I saw I had two texts. One was from my sisters to say they were enjoying ciders in the bar at the Portree Hotel. Another was from my dear friend Theresa, asking where I was. I immediately recalled that she and her husband were touring in Scotland and we wondered if our paths might cross.

Alas, I texted to Theresa, I was an hour out of Portree and wouldn’t return until the last tender call to return to the ship. But I mentioned that my sisters were at the hotel.

My next text contained a photo of the three of them. I don’t think they recognized each other, as it had been decades for them.

Theresa was persistent, and she and Jim walked to the pier to make sure we would connect. As I walked down the hill from my tour to the tender, there they were! We had perhaps 10 minutes to chat, take photos and quickly talk about our upcoming class reunion.

Jim, Jo and Theresa

When I moved to Kansas City for ninth grade, it was my eighth school. I was used to walking into a classroom of strangers. Theresa was my first real Kansas City friend as we sat next to each other in science class. We became closer in high school, playing together on the varsity tennis team and attending Young Life and Bible study groups together.

We’ve stayed in touch over the years, as we both went to the University of Missouri, I attended their wedding, she and Jim visited me in Dallas, and I visited them in South Carolina after they moved. It’s one of those friendships that lasts even when we go a few years without seeing one another. That’s what made it so special to meet on the pier in Portree on the Isle of Skye.

Each time we see someone we know from the ship in a busy port, Elaine will joke that, “You go halfway around the world and see people you know.” This time it was really true.

The day dawned dark with overhanging clouds. It sure felt like it might rain, although the forecast was iffy. I had forgotten until last night that I was waitlisted on a tour to the north end of the Isle of Skye. They added a bus, so I was set to go for the afternoon.

This is the first of three tender ports, meaning we anchor and use the ship’s tender to go ashore. It adds time and is inconvenient, but unless you are in a hurry, it’s not usually that much of a problem. Today it was a short ride into the cute harbor town. We walked around a bit and then had an early lunch so I could make my tour. Portree is a pretty town with multicolored buildings and quite a few shops selling knits, textiles and other products of the Scottish island.

My tour took us up the eastern coast, past huge cliffs overhanging the sea and rolling hills of peat and heather. The hillsides of gorse reminded me of the Dunedin area of New Zealand’s south island last November. There were sheep everywhere.

Our guide noted the small “glamping” huts for “glamorous camping,” saying they are sprouting all over the place.

We stopped briefly for photos of the Storr, a 2358 monolith rock.

The tour highlight was an hour at the Skye Museum of Island Life with its collection of thatched cottages. Displays describe the crofting way of farming life, usually as a sharecropper and peculiar to Scotland. A couple of Highland cows with their long, wavy, wooly coats lounged nearby.

It is a beautiful island, cold and windswept without many trees. But at least for today the rain held off, I stayed warm by layering two jackets, and I got to spend a few minutes with one of my high school besties halfway across the world.