Friday, October 19, 2007


Well, I didn't really expect to be experiencing culture shock but I must honestly admit I am not sure which culture I am supposed to fit into anymore. It's been at least as strange here as it was going everywhere else. Of all the places I've seen this has by far felt the most like home. The climate, vegetation (woah, green overload), smell and look of the coast (just look out to sea and not in toward the homes) and of course the food. Have I mentioned the language yet? English! Wow. But then it's pretty funny for me. Dad can't understand the accents and the girls feel wierd being able to understand others but I guess I am so used to not understanding everyone, and with the accents here, I still haven't figured out how to eavesdrop yet. My brain is just shut off to surrounding conversations. They do write a lot of signs in English and Gaelic so it is not 100% English but at least there are no more charades to buy the simplest things :)
We've been exceptionally lucky so far. Brittany and her boyfriend, Will, have been outstanding hosts. Britt also has a roommate from Sweden whos Italian boyfriend is also up visiting so we are in a very crowded flat but it is working out great. So far we have only been around the Dublin area, and north and south about 1/2 hr to see the little towns and beaches of Bray and Malahide. Very nice.
What to say, the look is very British which is quite different from mainland europe. Brick houses and lots of chimney pots. It's busier than I expected and for some reason doesn't have all the bicycles I was expecting like in so much of the rest of northern Europe. We've only had one day of rain but it is a lot colder than we are used to and we are all borrowing Britt and Will's clothes :)
I suppose the funniest thing so far is that with Britt and Will leading, dad and I got behind after one stop because we were adjusting a backpack. I was watching the group ahead and all of a sudden I blinked and they disappeared. It was so crazy. I don't get left behind, I lead! But then we totally could not find them and had no idea which way they went. Everyone looks the same! I know I am supposed to be saying that about something other than my own race but it is true. Everyone looks the same as much as the Chinese or Egyptians all look the same. We don't really think about it but I guess it's true.
The other thing you don't really notice at home but was painfully obvious to me was the sudden case of a "I need coffee" stupor in the population. Seriously. Walking around Madrid or Dublin and all of a sudden it really does feel like zombie land or something. If the world's coffee supplies ran out it would be a worse catastophe than oil running out. Imagine all the western world's population suddenly falling over dead and unable to produce. You think I'm exaggerating but.....not really. There is definitely a difference between the "I need coffee to function" and the "I am a member of a permanently stoned population" look. Both are scary. It's kind of sad to go back to cloudy skies and dark coloured clothing and nobody talking to each other. There is something happier about people lounging around on the street chatting and drinking tea. It seems so much more formal and regulated in a cafe over here. But then, there is work to be done..... It's just interesting to see. I like the efficiency and order though. It really doesn't seem that hard to organize things like garbage disposal but apparently it is to most of the world. I find myself constantly drifting onto the road to walk, definitely a dangerous habit over here!
We wandered into a cemetary the other day (mom's obsession) and we were reading off the names on the tombstones. It seems that our comments about the Muslims being unoriginal in naming all their kids one of 5 options (with most opting for Mohammed) is not limited to them. Everyone in the cemetary seemed to be named one of 5 options, most of which were John, Joseph, Mary or Margaret and all the rest were also taken out of the Bible. Where is the originality? I vow to name my children something strange (like Tilt)!
We're getting delayed here of course and we've decided that it would only be appropriate to rent a car for a week and drive around the island so on Sunday we will pick up our vehicle and see what we can. I just hope the weather holds.
PS. Phoenix park in Dublin is the largest city park in Europe (I can't see how it could not be the largest in the world) is massive. The fields are the size of small towns, complete with a couple hundred deer just hanging out.


At 10:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Guys, just back finally from our anniverary tour of the wet coast, haven't even looked at a computer in a month, and man do the emails pile up. Animals were seriously linning up outside the trailer to get in out of the rain. Of course once home it stopped.
I know what you mean about feeling out of place Ammon, part is the accents ( just wait till you get out in the countryside) Part I think is that words mean different things, and the use of the word which to us is respectful, can mean insult .... you may feel slightly out of phase. Whatever you do don't openly discuss religion in the streets, it isn't done, but you like to live on the edge. Irish people are such a dicotomy, some of the warmest people I ever have known, but they never forget if you cross them.

I love the place, it is the most at home I ever feel anywhere in the world.
Love the Bear.


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