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05 March, 2007

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Sunday, 4 March Dublin

Sitting in a (sigh) pub in Dublin with a cappucino, waiting to be checked in. It looks like it might take a while. Grey and raining day here, and not nearly enough sleep last night.

Yesterday morning was our last in Waterford City, and I was sad to say goodbye. It was a bright beautiful morning, and Patrick and I set out after breakfast to walk up and down the cobbled square, which was full of Saturday morning market stalls and buskers. A saxophonist burst into ABBA at which point we had to come to a complete halt, me grinning hugely at Patrick. “This is the happiest day of my life,” I sighed.

We had a quick tour of Waterford’s great museum, which has installed a Newfoundland exhibit since I last visited four years ago. Then a sublime lunch in the sunny, modern café: panninis of melted cheese and Irish ham with a glass of shiraz and a ginger-pear cake for dessert. That’s what passes for cafeteria food in Europe. We talked earnestly about moving there with the children, which is an obligatory point in any really worthwhile vacation. I wish it was mandatory for every American citizen to spend time abroad, just to confront the reality that people all over the world are enjoying life, liberty and pursuing happiness without the benefit of the so-called American values that some think need to be exported at the end of a tank.

I realize being on vacation is not a true measure of day to day living in a foreign country, but it seems fair to observe that the baseline asthetic is higher here. Even mass-produced items are beautiful. The attention to quality seems to require that life be lived more mindfully. You go to the butcher for your fresh meat, the greengrocer for your produce, the bakers for your bread. The carrots have dirt on them that needs to be washed off. It all seems more natural, and makes you wonder what on earth we are doing with all the time we are supposedly saving with convenience items in America. More time for tv? More time to rush to the next thing to distract us from living life?

We boarded the coach at two for our gig in Enniscorthy, the high point of which was a private tour of the town castle. It has just been turned over to the national trust, having been run locally for years. It had become a kind of wonderfully eclectic storage shed, with people donating family antiques, from penny farthing bicycles to woolen socks worn in the Easter Uprising of ’16. It had a tiny dank dungeon, to which we applied our clown car routine, clambering one after another down a tiny staircase into a cave with barely room to turn around and get the hell out.

We had dinner with our hosts at the venue, an American-style pub/restaurant. The reading itself was in a dedicated area with a stage. I went up first. The sound was problematic, but the room was filled and the audience was warm and responsive. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication about time slots and it became a marathon. Our energy was pretty low by the time we piled on the bus. I thought the atmosphere was summed up perfectly by the kind of anecdotes our coach driver was telling: a few nights before he had entertained us on the way home with heartwarming tales about his Jack Russell terrier; on this night he was pointing out points along the way where pedestrians got killed in horrible traffic accidents. It was grim all around.

We did have a clear view of the lunar eclipse from the pub parking lot. We snuck out the back door one and two at a time, to smoke cigarettes and curse the long-winded; to crane our necks to the sky and watch our own shadow.

1 Comments:

Anonymous lilalia said...

Very much enjoying your travel diary. Thank you for all the wonderful antedotes.

P.S. Coincidently, the blogger comment program wants me to type in npubda; guess the random generator is keyed into Ireland as well as your tour group.

7:19 AM  

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