Good Conversations with New Friends

Trip Start Sep 06, 2004
Trip End Nov 23, 2004

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Flag of Ireland  ,
Tuesday, September 14, 2004

On Tuesday I woke up very late and still tired. A shower helped, though I was still feeling somewhat lightheaded. Afterwards I went out with Katherine to meet Megan from Toronto and Andreas from Dresden. We sat in the sunshine outside a pub watching the puppeteer and talking while I nursed my orange juice. Andreas is curly-haired, maybe mid-30s to early 40s (I'm really bad at guessing ages). He's very sweet and enjoyable to talk to even though his English is quite poor. He's an intrepid traveller though, has been all over the place. According to him, Dresden is the best place ever and we can't miss it if we're ever in Germany. We started talking about humour and he explained that German humour often depends on storytelling. He proceeded to relate a story about a fox, a rabbit, and a bear trying to get out of the army, but it didn't translate very well. His personality comes through even with the lack of words though.

After that, Katherine and I went for a very late breakfast at a place across the river (River Corrib is the one that flows through Galway). I had the "vegetarian option" which consisted of one egg, very salty vegetables, rice, and potatoes. An immense amount of food and not terribly healthy.

I thought the food would stop me being lightheaded, but it didn't, so I went back to the hostel and had a nap. I woke up feeling better, and made pasta with tomato sauce and green pepper. Katherine and I ate supper with two solo travellers...Megan (Andreas had left for Dublin) and Andy who hails originally from Kingston. They're both about 10 years older than us, interesting people as well as intelligent conversationalists. Megan is on a one-year sabbatical from a job she loves in Toronto that involves something like communications and trade unions. She was planning to spend it travelling, but she's away from her boyfriend as well...she's thinking of cutting short her plans and going home by Christmas. Andy co-founded a company in Switzerland and hasn't lived in Canada for a while. But he decided that the company was draining him, so he too decided to take a break while his partners try to sell it. He has been travelling the world for a year, bouncing around, and is entering his second year. His best story is about running into a band that played traditional Scottish music and being invited all over the place in Scotland with them.

We were having so much fun that we decided to go out to a pub, Tig Coili, where trad music was going on. It's a very small pub. Megan said she'd been in there earlier (actually it was the same place where we had been hanging out with Megan and Andreas) and had had a good conversation with a 60-year-old Irish farmer who was lonely and looking for a wife. Anyway, Andy suggested I try hot whiskey for my sore throat, which actually did help for a while...then I had orange juice (my third glass of the day, or possibly fourth) and then pop.

To the backdrop of a trad band, we had a great evening talking about aspirations. Megan and Andy both said that I don't have to be published to call myself a writer. Megan gave me some ideas on job-hunting in my field, and said she was just on her way to meet a writer friend in Dublin so would pump him and e-mail me. They both said to stick it out, both in writing and in Ireland. Katherine revealed that when she returns to Canada she is going to study to become a holistic animal doctor, as she feels she has a special empathy for animals. Andy is still not sure what he wants to be "when he grows up" so the rest of us psychoanalyzed him. Our consensus was that he has a way with people, of reading them and adapting to them, and being easy to talk to and in general a really nice guy, so we suggested he could be a counselor, which he'd never thought of. I hope we gave him some ideas. Anyway it was one of those amazing conversations. That's what I had in mind with pubs and Ireland in general!

Eventually the trad group was taken over by a large bunch of young Spanish people who were singing Spanish (folk?) songs. Equally entertaining and lively. Some of the songs involved gestures, which looked very bizarre since none of us knew what the words meant. Katherine and I tried to sing "O Canada" to a young Italian named Fabio, as it was the only Canadian song we could think of, but we were drowned out and the effect was lost. At midnight the pub closed. We left relucantly. The Spanish group was ejected onto the street, where a few of them started dancing folk dances near the fire-juggler who had been juggling all evening outside the pub.

However, us Canadians went back to the hostel for another Canadian convention. Katherine and I went over to talk to Joe Canadian and Ryan again. Andy and Megan continued their conversation without us, and we felt somehow as if we were intruding when we went down to the dining area to talk to them. Not sure what was going on there, as they had never met before. We didn't get to bed until after 2 AM. It's addictive to befriend travellers who are going their separate ways, I suppose because it's emotionally no-risk. But that was by far the best evening yet.
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