[This post continues the travelog from last Friday’s flashback. I’ve traveled to Ireland with a friend a co-worker, Belle, and have spent a couple of days without her, while I visit Galway and my relatives before reuniting with her in Waterford.]
Monday, March 20, 2006
I spent the better part of the day on a variety of buses,and have finally landed here in Waterford with Belle and her man, the Artist. The house is a good sort, full of books and his art and his dead Swedish wife’s Swedish things. In fact, the house feels more Swedish than Irish for reasons I’m unsure of except a few of the rooms are bright blue and yellow. You can tell life was lived well here for their family before she died several years ago and before the Artist himself got sick with MSA, which has left him weak and with muscles that do not always cooperate as he’d like for them too.
Belle picked me up at the bus station and we went to pick up her man at the osteopath, who is about to turn 40 and to celebrate is going to Malaysia. This seems a bit like celebrating a major event with an eyelid-ectomy to me, but I am not that adventurous. Steven the Osteopath, however, looks like a man who does yoga in his sleep and who will return from Malaysia fully relaxed and epiphinized in ways I will never be. After that we went to Tesco to do some grocery shopping (brown bread, Kerry Gold butter, Dubliner Cheese, and Guinness for me, slightly more healthy things for Belle and Himself.) And now here. Tomorrow is an unknown. If it is sunny, a walking tour of Waterford. If it is rainy, I have no idea. Probably a walking tour of Waterford.
Saturday and Sunday with the cousins was good. Saturday night we watched Ireland beat England in rugby and win the Triple Crown. (I know nothing about rugby but was told anytime the Irish beat the English at anything it is cause for jubilation.) John and his young son were both so into the match that they were dancing around the TV, screaming at it, and a few times when it got too unnerving, John had to go into the other room to talk to Ginger the Cat in order to calm himself down.
Sunday I got to visit with the other cousins who live at the Homeplace. They have a cozy farmhouse, and the kids entertained me. I left full of tea and Guinness and good stories. One thing I learned that I did not know is that there are World Plowing Championships. Did you know this? Gerry the Cousin goes to them. He says they’d be no use to Americans who can plow however they like because our hot sun will burn off the green bits, but in Ireland if you don’t turn a row correctly the vegetation will grow and then no more row.
His wife and two oldest children are going to be in Chicago in April. It would be fun to see them on American soil, so I hope to make the trip up there. His wife is convinced that I must come back in September to go to the matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna, though the other set of cousins warned me off of it later.
On the bus today leaving Galway, I listened to the Saw Doctors sing about the West of Ireland and realized once again, that it is my favorite part of this country. As the bus moved out of County Galway and into County Clare and then further in toward Tipperary, the stone fences and rocky landscape became less and less frequent. It’s all gorgeous, but there is something in Connemara’s harsh landscape that speaks home to me in ways the rest of the country don’t.
Also, I felt a bit hypocritical that I was enjoying watching the lambs frolic and just twelve hours before had been enjoying a lamb dinner. It’s not right. I won’t ever eat lamb at home, but when I’m here and it is served up, I don’t feel like I should refuse. And sadly, it is delicious.
So the six hours on the bus was not so bad. I listened to my iPod shuffle thru various Irish songs and watched the movie of Ireland’s landscape unfold to the soundtrack of my own making.
That’s what I know today.