I cross the bridge that leads me out of Rickerby park and find myself on the edge of the town known as Carlisle. The sounds of a real city are deafening to my ears. I go no more than a couple of blocks before I find my guest house for the next couple of days, Fern Lee.
I’m a bit early to check in though, so I continue wandering about, looking for a place that will work for me to get a bite to eat. I find rows of Victorian townhouses, more cobblestone streets, and an air of a working class people just wrapping up another hard day of labor. I see a local pub called the Beehive, which seems to have a chill atmosphere, and so I mentally map my way from here back to my guest house so I can return after I check in.
The owner of Fern Lee, Debbie, is a very nice woman that checks me in and shows me to my room. After a week of hiking, I have some nasty clothes ready for laundry, and Debbie obliges willingly. I also feel the strong urge to unload things that I now consider “extra”, shoes, shirts, pants etc….and give those to Debbie to donate to a local charity. She is happy to do so. I head out to the Beehive for Indian pub food and a tasty ale or two. I disappear into the relaxing family atmosphere of the pub for the evening, then head back for a restful night’s sleep.
I rise the next morning content and ready to wander around Carlisle and see what I can find. I see a sign for the Carlisle castle and church, two prominent historic places, and so the plan is to try and find them without using my GPS. I have nothing but time today. As I am finishing my coffee, the barista says to me “well you certainly aren’t from around here now, are you, but you definitely look as strange, wild and wonderful as the rest of us.”
It makes me smile and I look at myself today. I suppose she has a point.
I come to the Carlisle Castle first, and find an entrance that takes me up to the outside walls, with a path that one can walk the entire circumference. I do not feel the need to pay for an inside tour, as the grounds around the historic castle are enough for me.
The views of the city itself from the castle are picturesque, and I can see the church spires of the place I’d like to visit next. As I amble along, I come across an old book store. It’s my weakness, for lack of a better word, and I enter and get lost in the written words on old parchment. I’m glad I unloaded my unnecessary clothes for charity, as I now have room to take home my new found treasures of old books. I get a Roald Dahl classic, a book on farming, gun powder, and the life of a vagabond.
Thirst and hunger strike before I reach the Carlisle church, and so I duck into a quaint little pub to rest and rejuvenate for a spell.
It is mid-afternoon when I finally come to the Carlisle church. As I approach the hallowed grounds, memories of Kenya flood my senses, almost crippling me. I sit down on a park bench for a minute to steady my equilibrium.
I pray for strength and wisdom. I think about my final project in Kenya, the Vessel of Hope school, and my friends that helped us with this daunting task.
I enter the church and my spirit is ripped open and exposed…….it is the moment of reckoning, and time for me to finally share the story of my final day in Kenya with Vessel of Hope.