As I was sitting in yet another restaurant, enjoying yet another dinner out, I realized, that I had turned some sort of corner in my approach to life on the road. It no longer seemed wild and exotic to be in whatever great place I was in. Instead, it felt totally natural. I find I have adjusted to the rhythm of travel, and rather than it being a vacation for me, it is merely a way of life. OK, without that irritating 'holding down a job' business, I'll admit. The business of daily life on the road for me has become routine. Get into town, get my money, find housing, find my email, figure out how to get to my next destination, and tour, tour, tour!
Many people are surprised when I am happy to spend an evening in my room watching mindless TV now and again. After all, I didn't come all this way to watch 'Friends', did I? Well, no. And I'm watching trash that I would never watch at home, that's for sure. But after 10 hours or so of filling my brain with images and culture, a break is welcome. Just like people coming home from work and being a couch spud, I come 'home' from my travels and do the same.
Well, not every night, of course. Last night was another swing dance, though in Dublin, the term is applied loosely. The scene is very, very young here. People can only do six-count, and the music is all Rockabilly, Jump Blues, Nouveau Swing, etc. Very little actual jazz at all. There were three Americans there last night, two of us just happening to pass through town, and another who moved here just two days ago. Jaws dropped, and the young swing crowd realized they had discovered a lifeline to the swing world. Modest person that I am, I didn't enjoy the applause at all. As it turns out, I will be helping teach the Shim Sham in a class on Saturday. If anyone asks you if I'm the top dancer in Seattle, just say 'yes' and I'll have your check in the mail. One thing I loved, is that the lack of formal dancing ability didn't prevent anyone from dancing. The booze helped, I think. The dance floor was chaos, but everyone was certainly having fun.
Earlier in the week I visited Belfast, but found it less than I had expected. Like Berlin, it wore its political climate on its sleeve, which was affecting. It was kind of like touring Tacoma though. It is a depressed industrial town in possession of a few cultural jewels, but not enough to sustain long term touring. I'm glad I went, and I'm glad I've left. Dublin, on the other hand, is a very accessible town, and has tons of culture to take in.
The Gay Pride Parade is tomorrow, which should be interesting. It's such a religious town, yet homosexuality is legal here. That is very typical of the contradictions that make up Ireland's complex political climate. I'm very curious to see the flavor of the parade, as well as the reception of the locals.
The weather is very much like Seattle, but sped up. It rains for ten minutes, then is sunny for fifteen. It pours for five more minutes, then is cloudy for another twenty. I am frantically dashing between parks and museums, as the climate dictates. It was too much for my poor Budapest cheapie umbrella. Burial services are expected today.
The people are nice here, as long as they don't work behind a counter. There is something about counters here that cause perfectly nice people to step behind them and lose any sense of cooperativeness and accountability. I have wasted more time getting my boat reservation for London than any connection in recent memory. I won't even go into the morning wasted trying to find a photo lab. Most of the places I was directed to didn't seem to even exist! Every time I get fed up, however, I run into a helpful cabbie, a waiter who goes out of his way, charming street musicians, etc, who remind me that this is a country of decent folks. I wish I could visit the west coast and digest some small towns, but that is not in the cards.
Some notes of interest:
1) Touring the tombs under a church with the mummified remains of various historical figures with a tour guide who thoroughly enjoyed milking the macabre aspects for everything they were worth.
2) Exploring Belfast with some Korean sisters, only one of whom spoke English.
3) Before I left Scotland, spending the day searching for the widower of my clan leader, and the various locals who invited me into their homes along the way (including the local 'bird man' who feeds six pounds of bread crumbs a DAY to the birds)
Time to stick my head outside and see what the weather is doing. Take care!