Okay. I’m in Cork. Ireland looks a lot like Washington but with even more green. It actually reminds me of a Ray Bradbury story, the one about rain on Venus – it never stops raining, and the plants continuously grow and consume things…only Ireland is very beautiful and not threatening at all.
Today, being the travel day, was not the best of days. My layover in Chicago took an exciting turn when I ended up reaching the check-in counter as they announced boarding. Hurrah. I made the flight, but my luggage (naturally) did not. I made it through customs after a while and found the right bus to get to the train station, and I got to ride on the top deck! (Things About the Irish #1: Road lanes usually do not apply, especially if you’re bigger than the vehicles around you.) At the train station, the clerk helpfully sent me to the station’s Internet terminals, where I could reserve a ticket for 20 euros instead of 66. (Things About the Irish #2: They are not as gushingly friendly as the guidebooks may lead you to believe, but if you ask for help or just start a conversation with them, they will hang out with you and comfort you until you’ve got everything figured out.)
The train ride to Cork was pretty nice. The trains are fairly new, very clean, and they even have a snack trolley! I chatted a little with the man sitting across from me, who is recently unemployed and has been in London and Dublin looking for work, apparently along with the rest of the country.
Mary met me at the train station and greeted me with a hug, which I think is an excellent start. She showed me the layout of the town and explained a bit about the office – it sounds like everyone does a variety of jobs, instead of specializing in one particular thing, so I think it sounds promising already.
I’ll post pictures of my apartment when my luggage arrives with the camera cable. It’s pretty nice – I have my own bathroom, and the kitchen is fully equipped. Plus the laundry is right in the ground floor of my building. The only downside is there’s no internet in the room – I have to go down to the common room. This will probably just mean that I will get a lot of writing done, with no in-room internet to distract me.
This evening, though, was no fun whatsoever. I took a 10-minute walk to the Irish equivalent of Winco, took my basket of apples and bread and Irish cheddar and generic corn flakes to the register, and rang everything up. Then I stood awkwardly at the end of the counter, because the bags are all up front with the cashier.
“Can I have a bag?”
“They’re twenty-two cents.”
“Oh.” I started rummaging for my wallet again, but the man buying groceries behind me took pity on me and bought me a bag. Lo and behold, I needed another bag. After he left, I held out my coins, and the irritated cashier handed me another bag.
Then the fun really began. I got on the bus, paid the fare, and sat down on the wrong side of the bus, so I couldn’t see where my stop was. We rolled past it. I settled in, resigned to just waiting for the driver to finish his loop.
Turns out the loop was almost two and a half hours long, including the time where he waited at a stop for ten minutes for his replacement driver to arrive. The rest of the day had been almost enjoyable because every few minutes my oblivious inner twelve-year-old would pop up and go “Hey! We’re in Ireland! Whee!” And that helped. But by the end of that bus ride, she was screaming silently and I was just reciting “eat, blog, shower, sleep” in my mind.
Two of those are done. The rest await. More tomorrow.