This past Monday was a Bank Holiday here in Ireland. As my friend Sarah Jay put it- "It's like Memorial Day, Labor Day or Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but they just don't name it." It is the only University scheduled day off- but I've taken a few more to get my traveling in ;) So with this long weekend I was finally reunited with a couple of the kids from the Ulster Peace Project Limavady- Anderson 2002. Words can not even start to describe how awesome it was to see them again and to be in a 'home.'
I started my trip early on Saturday morning and as I was about 200 meters from the bus stop, about 7 minutes early, I saw the bus I needed fly right past the stop. The next one wasn't coming for another hour- dang it- not the way I wanted to start my trip. Next course of action was to figure out the public bus system to get to the airport. I have ridden them back from the airport once, so I figured I could reverse the process. Then an angel in the form of a taxi driver named John McGennuiss pulled up saying he needed a two person minimum and would charge us the same rate that the bus I missed did! I was at the airport in plenty of time, along with a new friend who is also from America who was meeting her mom at the airport :) So, I got the bus to Belfast, on my way to meet Lucy and her dad, Basil :)
The weekend was great- minus the rain, rain and more rain. But I came here expecting it to rain, so I didn't let it 'rain on my parade' or 'dampen my spirits' at all. The North was still very pretty as Basil took me the scenic way home along the coast. The weekend basically consisted of eating, eating and then eating some more between Lucy's mom, Margaret's, home-cooking and then Lucy's and mine baking. But there was some serious hiking/ walking around Giants Causeway and Dunluce Castle on Sunday though in all fairness.
Lucy and I seemed to fall right back into our relationship with each other after being apart for so long. We would send the occasional email and then facebook was a great invention to keep us in touch during the years apart. I never thought I would be in Lucy's house someday when she came over to America. I think I'm the first one of the Americans to come over here, besides my friend Anna who studied for a semester in Belgium and my Irish friend Kevin went to meet up with her for a long weekend. I also got to catch up with Kevin as we had a night out in Limavady at The Corner Bar. The main part of the pub was your more traditional pub atmosphere I suppose and had a small group singing local Irish music. We escaped to the back room where a band was setting up to play but was quiet to start with to chat and catch up as Lucy and Kevin hadn't seen each other in a while either. I taught Kevin to two-step and Lucy and I got hit on by a couple of older local gents, but it was all in the name of fun I suppose!
The 'Northern Ireland/ local" things I did- Had Maud's Icecream, toured Giants Causeway and Dunluce Castle, had to wait for sheep to cross the road, drove around the coastline, had a homemade currey, tried the local Bushmill's whiskey, walked the walls of Londonderry/ Derry, experienced a wee bit of pub life and I even have a hand-knitted wool hat, thanks to Basil's insistence and hospitality, to remember my time up North.
Last Thursday I also got to celebrate my friend's Katie birthday by going on a Trek ride with her. It was one of the best rides I've ever had. No offence Chip, I miss you and all, but this was on a Connemara dark bay named Jake who loved to run up those hills! It was raining off and on and my pretty pink Northface rain jacket now has some mud splatters from Katie's horse, who was in front of me. But seriously, towards the end of the ride there was a good long stretch where the horses know they are close to home and they are allowed to literally run full-out! I haven't been in a saddle in awhile, not to mention an English saddle, so I was a little unnerved going into the ride. But the first big run was up a hill and I wasn't expecting it and Jake just went for it- after that- I had the need for speed! It was so thrilling and after I realized that Jake was a sturdy mount and he knew what he was doing, we just had a blast! But anyways- that last stretch, I stood up in the irons a little bit and time literally stood still as well. I was riding along a treeline and then a stone fence that opened up to a beautiful green pasture and then on out to the rolling Irish countryside. Even with the sheer power that was going at full speed underneath me, I was perfectly relaxed and trying to take in the moment. It just about matched the time I took Chip out early in the alfalfa field one summer morning bareback with the butterflies everywhere. Just peaceful and perfect!
Last night we had an apartment dinner to send our roommate Josh off with style. He left for his internship in France this morning and so we had a feast last night- breakfast for dinner- pancakes (with tons of toppings), bacon, sausages, toast, eggs, juice, banana milk and probably some things that I'm forgetting. We all pitched in and got a tour book of Lyon, the city that Josh is moving to, and then a scarf as a little memento from all of us. I'm going to miss that kid, he's from Indiana as well and did his undergrad at Purdue, so it was nice have some commonality so far from home. Depending on finances, might go to France to visit him- he's been tempting me with skiing/ boarding in the Alps- how amazing would that be?
Welp... better wrap this guy up and throw some pictures in it and then get off to class. I have some down-time these next two weeks before the big Tetrathlon weekend, and I need to get some serious studying done!