November 29, 2011
A week in Ireland rounded out the journey. Ireland felt the most like NZ of anywhere I have been. But with a whole Irish edge to it. Beneath the Guinness, charm and turn of phrase, there is a full on history, and a rapidly intensifying present. On the way in from the airport, I was struck by the number of billboards about homelessness, alarming statistics coming into winter. The Celtic Tiger of a few years back has tanked, and it is getting a bit brutal. My first day of wandering, came upon women with babies begging on the street, a massive student protest, and a very present Occupy movement.
Dublin is a city full of Irish pubs. Guinness in Ireland is a totally different drink, smooth, creamy, and, well, nice. (I had never liked it in NZ, stale and thick and kinda grainy.) I did a couple of walking tours, which were pretty cool for getting a sense of the history layered in to the place – and a bloody and interesting one at that – again, something we don’t quite have in awareness in NZ.
The weather was grey and gloomy, and I was missing folks in Italy.
My reason to be in Ireland was Smokin Craic, the Irish decompression – a party in a castle. Seemed like a fitting way to cap the journey off, the last hurrah of the trip. It was a pretty great night, though a shame it was only one night – the true magic of a burn takes a little time to unfold. I helped a bit with set up and clean up, and met some good folks, and reconnected with some excellent companions of the journey. And partied in a motherfucking castle.
Back to Dublin, a charming CS host, and a random reunion with a dude who had been to all three northern burn festivals with me, who I had only got to chatting with at the castle. We had a good night with many Guinness. Saw some amazing ancient celtic art and goldwork. Wandered the sights, such as they are.
And then it was 30 plus hours of planes and airports. And then Wellington, and this great beauty, and exploding greenery, and amazing light.
Waking from this mad and beautiful dream has not been easy. Strangely, I never felt homesick for New Zealand, but I am feeling something like homesickness for the rest of the world, the whole travel modality, and the people I met.
Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao, Māku e kī atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!
“Ask me what is the greatest thing in the world, I will reply: It is people, it is people, it is people!”