Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Been Ages

So, it was pointed out to me that Matt has made three posts since I made my last. Well, fine, easy enough to remedy that. When last I left you, we were in our first days here in Derry. Matt was at first unnerved at the immediacy of the history here and how easy it is to feel it all, the violence and the ongoing tensions (to use a state department phrase), but I've been to other places with that same feeling, so I'm more used to it. Of course, every city is... its own city; each city has its own combination of current culture, lingering tensions, rich history, etc. But I've enjoyed taking in Derry, one sip at a time. Our first few days were so fun, just pure fun; watching Matt learn the perks of staying at a hostel with a great atmosphere, trading jokes and all of that, was just lovely. Don't get the impression, though, that I just lazed around thinking, "Crap, doesn't he know this is a waste of his time, making friends? We'll be out of here in two days!" No, no. For the first night, all the girlies were inside but me. That's how cool I am, oh yeah.

We ducked away for like a weekend trip, haha, to Bushmills. This town I agreed to go to so that Matt could rock the distillery. Even when he kept saying--and everyone kept repeating--that the Giant's Causeway was up there, I was just like, Yeah, yeah. I didn't look it up, and I almost psyched myself into not going. Pssht, would that have SUCKED! The distillery was excellent, they don't let you do tours like that at home, with all their rules and worries about lawsuits, and I sipped my free drink of whiskey and then gave the rest to Matt. It was really good, but it makes me queasy... Anyway, then we went to the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, and at first I was disappointed because you walk through this grass and then you see... not a really old, really dangerous rope bridge like something out of Indiana Jones. And I was thinking, That's kind of lame--£4 each for this? But then I crossed it and there's perfect sand below and there's no fences of any sort on this little island, and there were these birds like penguins (I believe Matt covered this) and it was lovely. We power-walked back (sweaty!) to make the bus over to the Giant's Causeway. Not knowing what it was, as we went down to it, I had Matt tell me the basic story about it--do look it up on Wikipedia, both the mythology and the science are fascinating. It's this thing like straight out of a video game and you can clamber all over it and just run right out to the edge, where the tide was already lapping at the stones; there are barnacles and tidepools on this thing. So cool. SO cool. It was a good little getaway, even though the hostel was more like an empty dormitory with a common room that no one used, though Matt did make a nice little dinner of grilled sandwiches with garlic bread and some microwaved mashed potatoes and cheese on the side.

Since then, on Saturday, we've been back in Derry. This feels like our home base, like this is now our home away from home. We've been here long enough to give advice to people coming through and I feel absolutely comfortable greeting all the new people and asking them where they're from originally, where they've been, where they're going, why they're here, all that. It's been hard adjusting to this idea that we don't have to go-go-go while we're here; we can slowly take in "the sights" and do a museum this day or that day if we like, or stay in and do nothing. I've enjoyed that, and talking movies, politics, cooking, everything with the people. The other night we even went to a movie with a few other people, two of whom have been dating each other 8 months and have never gone to a movie together! Milestone; if they stay together a while, we'll be a part of their story together, their first job at a hostel, their first movie date, and that's just wondrous to think of because they'll be a part of our story of our first trip abroad forever too. (It was Year One, and it was thoroughly silly and enjoyable.) We went back to Peadar O'Donnells last night and if possible had a night where we connected even more with locals, a lot of whom have worked in the States, visited more than once, and/or have some family living there. It's fascinating and I'm learning new bits of history and ties amongst us every day.

So we're planning on staying here until the 4th. Now we're trying to decide if we want to spend a night in Belfast, or just stop there on the way to Edinburgh. Now, I know, it's a capital, and everyone we've met says we have to take what they call the Black Taxi Tour, which is a ride through both 'sides' of Belfast and the drivers matter-of-factly tell what happened there in recent history, and include personal stories seriously. I think it sounds fascinating, but I feel like I want to learn more about it before I do that so that it will mean more. Also, it's never been a city that I feel drawn to, but I'm sure I'd enjoy it. So we're thinking. Definitely we're still going to Edinburgh for a couple of days before London, but we've pushed out Cardiff to stay here because we REALLY don't know a thing about it and what to see and how to enjoy it.

Oh, and we'll put some more pictures up tomorrow, I think.

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