July 8, 2010
It's 605pm Ireland time.
I decided to lock myself in the apartment this week in order to finish the stories that will make up my thesis project for school, so I haven't done much exploring or, despite constant chiding from my wife, picture taking. I should (with any luck) be done with the last story tonight, and will spend tomorrow and the weekend revising the whole thing. Once that's done, I'll spend the remaining three weeks out and about, exploring and what not. There is a library up the road, in walking distance, where I'll try to get some information and, I hope, pictures of what the area looked like in the time period I'm focusing on, the late 1950's. My landlady, Lorna, has already been a big help. She is originally from Kent, England, and married a man who grew up here, and when we were talking yesterday told me that in the 50's this was a very poor place, the people surviving mainly on money sent back from those who had moved to England or America to find work. Her husband did that himself, moving to England when he was fourteen and sending back money so that his nine siblings could go to university.
I've had help from others, too. Lorna's niece, Triona, rents the cottage directly across from mine and lives there full-time with her three kids. Lorna introduced us the first day I was here, and after I'd asked about getting a phone and a way to access the internet in my apartment, offered to help right away. She recently got a new cell phone, so she lent me her old one so that I didn't have to buy one. She also let me borrow an alarm clock. The children are staying with there father this week, and since she was going into Galway to run an errand on Monday and let me tag along and showed me where to buy a broadband stick that plugged into my laptop. I tried giving her money for gas, but she wouldn't take it.
The days have been mostly waking up, getting dressed and writing, but the hours are all off. My sleep schedule is way off because of the time difference. I either haven't slept more than a few hours or crashed out for ten.
On the fourth of July I visited the local pub, An Cistin, and had a Budweiser, some whiskey and a few pints. I went back on Tuesday, expecting to have a drink and leave, but ended up staying for a few and talking soccer and American politics with a guy who lived close by. I was impressed with myself, managing to drink and not offend anyone at the time. On the way home I grabbed something to eat from the chipper (fast food joint) at the end of my street because I couldn't fathom cooking in the state I was in, and ate while watching Holland beat Uruguay in the World Cup semi-final. I'm not sure if it was the food or being beat up from traveling, but something didn't agree with me and I spent the rest of the night on the kitchen floor, drinking water and holding my stomach. Different country, same John.
There is a grocery store down the road in the village, but because of my limited storage space, I have to stock up on cereal, water, and stuff to cook every other day. It gets me out of the apartment, at least. I've actually managed to cook a few edible meals, edible to me anyway, and not solely subsist on Frosted Flakes and sandwiches. I've even done the dishes. Once.
The night I got sick I went out for a short walk to see what was around. I'm on a peninsula. I saw a horse tied off in someone's front yard, and on the way back found him with his head poking over the wall, waiting for me. Every yard I saw had a dog sleeping by the gate. All the street and storefront signs are in Irish, and there are kids everywhere, come to the village for the yearly summer trip to the Irish-language school.
The weather has been cool, between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, a stark contrast to the nasty heat back home. It rains every day, either a spring or a long drizzle, nothing very strong. It actually feels nice when walking through it.
More posts to come in the days ahead, this time with pictures of the landscape, promise.