Wow! So a lot has happened in the last 48 hours! I left my job, family, country...and I took root 4000 miles away!
Here's a tidbit from the past couple of days...
Nearly missed my first flight...had a grand time lookin' for the terminal, then had to wait in a long line to get checked in, then got kicked out of a line in security, then had a long line for security, then finally got to my plane to find it boarding! Well, it turned out that we were late in getting all boarded...so some 20 minutes was taken off of my next 1 1/12 hour lay-over...
And then I sat on that plane for an hour as our fuel crew spilled gas all over the tarmac and had to call the fire department out. True story. Then finally we were off to Philadelphia!
The plane landed, and I had about 4 minutes to get to my next flight. Which just so happened to be 2 terminals over! So I sprinted! I followed an Irish guy who sat behind me...he had come over to play futbol in America...I just stayed on his heels. Dodging people, sometimes takin' the fast-walk, sometimes avoidin' it, depending upon people! Probably a good half-mile run!
And we arrived at our terminal only to find people waiting. A 20-minute delay as the cleaning crew was late. Then we found out they were really late, had a miscommunication, and so I spent the next hour talkin' to an 18-year-old Irish lass...she couldn't a'believe what I was a'doin'! "Oh, what a sin!" she would say. And the accent? Yeah, buddy!
Well, we finally boarded...she sat six rows up...a true shame...and I slept most of the six hours over. Landed in Dublin, Ireland...thick green luscious fields as we came in! The clouds were about 200 feet...the pilot said we might have to fly around a bit...but we were cleared to land.
Got my luggage, looked for Ruble, then looked for a way to get the City Centre. That's where my first couch was supposed to be. City Centre. Spire. 5:30 P.M.
I traded in 60 American dollars for 37 Euros (this trip is goin' to kill me, I thought!), and I hopped on a double-decker bus. To the City Centre!
I didn't really know what the Spire was, but it really wasn't hard to find out. A huge pole stuck 300 feet in the air. Oh, that must be it. So I arrived there about 11:00 A.M. I had 6 1/2 hours to kill. I didn't want to walk around because I had so much luggage, so I just sat along a wall.
And I watched people!
People from all over. Tourists. Locals. New languages! Funny accents! And lots and lots of skin. Even though it was 60 degrees, the girls like to show off their bellies! Even more than the United States. They just give that 2-inch window to...um, you know...
And I was fightin' sleep. I had slept one hour...one hour the night before I left...because of packing and saying good-bye to...um...friends. haha...it was nuts!
I managed probably a few hours on the plane, but that was rough, too. Tight quarters...a guy that moved next to me...a midnight supper here...a breakfast bar there...a drink somewhere in the middle...
But I was in Dublin!!! Sitting along a wall...and waaaaaay tired. So I slept. About 16 times. Dozin' in and out. I had the Aviators on, so people probably couldn't tell except for the uncanny head-bob...but I needed sleep. I stood up to fight it off.
A chick walked out of a door and stood next to me. It was raining by now. A common theme I find out..."Beautiful weather, huh?"
I was the first to speak. She just looked over, said something, and then looked away. "Wow, that was rough!" I thought. A few minutes go by, then I break the ice again. This time she is willing!
And I find out she is studying English. She thought it weird that that was all I said! "Beautiful weather, eh?!" She thought I was in the same class with her. Well, we talked a bit...she was from Spain...but then she had to go back in after her cig was down to just filters...I wanted to go in and talk to the professors to see what it would take for me to teach English...but I didn't...not today, anyway...
Well, I sit along that wall for a good several hours...then 5 o'clock rolls around...rainin' hard by now...and I head over to the Spire. I figured I wanted to be there to find my couch!
5:05. 5:12. 5:15. "Here, get under my umbrella..." A man offers me a chance to stay dry. "Thanks!" We talk about travelin', about him goin' up north to an island to take pictures of seals, about my travels, and about he absolutely hates this horrendous rain the Irish have been havin'. "All summer long. We haven't had even a day of sunshine since May." Not cool, I think. I am already wet...and cold. My knees do the uncontrollable shake. It is probably 58 degrees. And I have zero...ZERO! longsleeves.
5:30. 5:37. 5:45. Nothin'. I'm not goin' to lie. I was already on to Plan B. Find a hostel! I had no way of knowin' whether my lady was a'goin' to show up! I had only e-mailed her two days prior sayin' I was a'comin'! 5:30. Spire. City Centre.
5:47. I recognize that face!!! I had already asked one girl if she was Anna, though she didn't really look like her, but when I finally saw her, I knew. "Anna!"
"Hey, sorry I'm late...wanna grab a Guiness?"
And with that, I was Irish.
A quick trip to the pub, some casual talk, then off to the train.
We rode about 20 minutes out of town to her apartment south of the city. We walked a bit off of the train, then came to her place. And I must say...very nice! 2-bedroom place in a high-rise overlookin' some mountains. It is a very modern apartment building...the fridge, toilets, dishwasher, and the like all look like cabinets! Pretty slick.
She's a Polish girl with a nice job here in town...she does civil engineering for the city! She's workin' on her English, too...but she is very good! There are only very minor things to help her out with. Well, after some talkin' and some homemade tomato soup, I fell asleep on her couch. Too bad, too. She had offered me my very own bed! But I was tired!
Oh, but not before talkin' to her friend from somewhere else in Europe! I tried to line up a couch there, too!
I ended up sleepin' 12 hours...when I woke up, Anna was gone. But I had the keys and the code to the building!
After a nice, hot shower and a good shave, I was ready for the city. I headed into town...the train was out of service, so I took the bus.
I hit up Christchurch Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral, a beautiful park, a couple of motorcycle shops (what's it goin' to take for me to ride around the island, I would ask! Turns out about $3000!). I stopped at a place to ask a guy if I could ride in a Ferrari out front. True story. Then we talked about America, Ireland, good leaders with bad poor morals, gas prices, and the like. A very delightful experience. And I love their accents! And as my sister knows, it is VERY hard for me to not to pick up their accents even as I am talking! But it's fun, too! After I walk away, I will usually repeat what was just said to me...but with their accents! I love it!
By the way...no Ferrari.
But I did ask where to find a motorcycle shop. I go to a couple...then hit up a Subway for a quick meal...not because I like Subway...but becase it was the only place in town where I could eat for under 5 Euros...it's crazy expensive over here!
I talk to a guy who came in who rides a motorcycle...he's a courier...he gets paid to ride around on a motorcycle! I asked him his job...he says he rides around all year long! In the cold and everything! And he gets paid to ride a motorcycle! Seriously...what a job!
I stopped at a couple of churches along the way...some cost money to get in...all I could think about was what the early church fathers would think about...what would Patrick do if he knew people were being charged to come into a church in honor of him? Augustine? James?! Anything to make money...needless to say, I didn't pay to get in.
I did however, go to a Mass at St. James Cathedral. I walked in to take some pics and found a couple of ladies there. I sat down next to one of them and asked what the church of Ireland was like. After explaining what I meant, she said it was predominantly for older people...not many kids come to the church services. There are some Protestant churches, but most are Catholic. And most of the churches in downtown Dublin are not very well-attended. More out in the country, she said.
She then asked about the American churches, and I told her we varied. Some have 20, some 130, some 800, or more!
The service was much like any Catholic service anywhere. Mary was a very central focus..."Mary, please ask your Son to forgive us our sins." Maybe they should ask Jesus Himself? Not a bad idea, if you ask me. I had communion there...no juice, though...the priest drank it all!
Anyway, it was a bit discouring to see a "stodgy" church in Ireland. About 20 people were there...VERY diverse...it looked like South Americans, a middle Eastern family, and several Irish people. But I still couldn't get over the emphasis upon Mary. At one point, the priest called her "sinless Mary," a view I didn't know the Catholic church held.
After that, I went to my second motorcycle shop. The guys were closing up, so he told me to come back tomorrow. Maybe I'll ask for a job!
From there, I continued my trek home. I took the bus in but decided to walk back. A terrible idea! Probably a good 3-4 miles! A construction guy stopped me and asked...
"Hey! Is ham pork?"
"Is ham pork?"
"Is ham pork?"
"Pork, you know...pork. Hamm?"
"Yes, it is pork. Anything from a pig is pork."
Turned out he was practicing his English! I think his entire day revolved around wanting to know whether ham was pork. We talked about beautiful women in Ireland (and there are!), the women in Russia (where he was from), my travels, and whatnot. He was very hard to understand, but I am learning that you just have to sound like a fool in order to learn a language. I will be there soon enough.
I walked the last 2 miles back to home. Ate out of a cereal box. Arrived to find Anna still at work. 7:45 P.M. She arrived a couple hours later, she cooked me some awesome rice with spicy vegetables (she thought it had too much chili powder, but I loved it!), and now here I am...
I talked with Jolanta again...she is Anna's friend in London. She teaches English there. She had a bad day, and I said I guess I would have to come over and help her teach. She has 20 students which is just too much for her.
Anna wants me to stay here in Dublin and teach.
Anna. Jolanta. English. Ferraris. Motorcycles.
What a day.