This year the Society of Biblical Literature is holding its annual international gathering at St. Andrews. Since it is only about an hour or so train ride from Aberdeen and a pretty important conference for Biblical scholars I decided to go. The adventure began with my first long distance train ride in Scotland. My friend Eduard and I bought our tickets way in advance and got a pretty sweet deal. The only catch was we would have to leave the train station at 9:17pm. Yutaka, that amazing office mate of ours, dropped us off in his new car. The experience began with our train running about 20 minutes late. So after waiting on the platform for a while we boarded the train and found some nice seats that sat across from each other with a table in between. My abnormally large bag barely fit under the seat but we managed to jam it in.

Why did I have an abnormally large bag you ask? Melodie wanted me to be prepared for just about any circumstance so she helped me pack. (When I say “helped” I really mean she packed for me:) So I left Aberdeen with a large duffel bag full of clothes. Eduard on the other hand had on small backpack. I’ll get the last laugh though when he is the first to run out of socks and having to go barefoot!

Back to the train ride: We were alerted to our stop by the overhead speaker and, after unjamming my abnormally large bag from under the seat, we rushed to the door only to have it refuse to open for us. The train started to pull away from the station and we found a call button to alert the porter but, wouldn’t you know it, the button was not functioning either. We ended up having to ride to the next station, Cupar (which was 5 minuets away) and wait there another 20 minuets before the next train could come and take us back the to the station we were supposed to get off at. This time we never left the door area and made sure we could get the door open. By this time it was almost midnight and we took a taxi into St. Andrews to stay at our friends house.

Our new friends are great! They put us up in their spare room and have been very accommodating and hospitable. They have two little girls age 3 yrs and 5 months that are super cute! Their oldest girl is starting sports camp this week as is going to have a blast.

Eduard and I trouped around St Andrews this morning looking at all the sites and just experiencing this beautiful town. My feet are pretty tired. After our exploring we went to register for the conference. We arrived at the place where the conference was taking place, the Younger building at the University of St. Andrews, only to find a sign saying that registration was taking place at the Marquee. Sadly, we didn’t look close enough and the registration that the sign indicated happened to be for some other event. Basically we got lost and couldn’t find where our registration was taking place. After locating someone with a SBL badge and receiving some really bad directions, we stumbled into to another guy coming back from the correct registration. We barely made it in time to get our sweet SBL bags and programs. (At the very worst we would have had to wait until the morning but I wanted to sport mine tonight!)

After registering, which -by the way- was just about as far away as you can get from the place the actual conference was taking place, we stopped at a little cafe called Taste. The coffee was pretty excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone coming out this way. A mocha was just the boost I needed to make it back to the conference and sit through some pretty intense introduction lectures. After learning some intro facts on the Qumran Community, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, Rabbinic Judaism, and a complex new computer algorithm that could help NT critical scholarship, we went to a reception filled with people I had never met and were supplied with posh food and some wine.

Since I am not big fan of fancy food (ie. mutton kahbabs infused with mint flavoring, vegan friendly pies, fried king prawn sprinkled with coconut, etc), I stuck with a mini ham sandwich. I did try the minty mutton and a goose Chinese roll but I just couldn’t wrap my taste buds around the fancyness. Eduard and I found a great walking path on the way home that I can’t wait to explore. At the end it has something called a Botag Cootoon which, judging by the picture, looks like some sort of giant beehive hut. We didn’t make it all the way to find out but I am definitely curious!
Well tomorrow, hopefully. Please pay for my wife back home with the boys, they are out of school for summer stating this week.

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