Assimilatin’

Today is Wednesday so it’s my volunteer day with Age Action.  I have two wonderful learners this time around, two gents whose company make the time just fly by.  I taught one of them how to consolidate his photos and delete the ones he didn’t want, while the other spent the whole time teaching himself how to write a letter with the word processor.  The budding typist gets on the bus at Salthill so today we spent the ride chatting.  I seem to find myself telling anyone and everyone about the imminent visit of our daughters.  (I’m kind of excited about it!)

It’s another gorgeous Galway day, not too hot, just enough sun to stay warm, a light breeze to stay refreshed.  After class I wanted to return a library book and hit the used bookstore to swap some used books for something to read while traveling.  I found just what I wanted.  By then I was starving so I made my way over to a restaurant I like that serves a delicious Irish lamb stew and has tables outside but is off the overly-trodden path.  Ordered my food, found a table out front nestled in the corner and settled in with my book.  Toward the end of the meal a man came and apologetically asked if he could sit at the table next to me.  Hey, no problem, I’m getting used to this close quarters kind of Euro lifestyle…  Then he began chatting me up.  I could have been stand-offish at that point but I’ve decided to stop being so American and start opening up to new people – so I put aside my book and we began chatting.  He had this lovely British accent that reminded of the accent of the character of Del in Wayne’s World 2.  He told me how he likes to interrupt people who are reading and engage them in conversation because you can read any time but you don’t always get the chance to talk to a new person, how he thinks that everyone the world over should start the day with a big hug, he asked where I am from, talked about how he went to North Carolina when he was young to study but life beckoned him and he followed, about the time he lived in Paris in one room and how the landlady would bring him croissant and hot chocolate every single morning.  I told him about our daughters coming to visit and that we were taking them to Paris and he recommended that we just “bounce around” and try not to plan too much.  Then it was time for me to walk off my lunch – but I was very glad I took the time to speak with him.

I got the rest of my shopping done – thank goodness for the new shopping trolley!  I might look like an old lady but that thing has already proven to be well worth the purchase price.  I got to the bus stop and there was a tremendous group of young German kids, none over 21, who were waiting for the same bus I take, of course.  I’ve been too judgmental when it comes to the groups of youths wandering around Galway so I decided I was just going to relax and go with the flow.  I even saved them the hassle of catching the wrong bus by letting them know which one to look for.  At that point an elderly woman came up and asked me if she was in the right place for the Salthill bus… and we got to chatting.  We managed to get decent seats – surprise! – and the kids were quite well-behaved.  She was on her way out to the ocean because it was such a lovely day, the sun was out and it was simply too nice to go home just yet.  She and I chatted all the way out to where she got off at the Prom.  I, of course, told her about being American, Claude’s job at the university, the girls coming to visit.  She told me she had friends coming from Florida next week, about the cake she was baking for them, about her volunteer work.  

I find myself thinking about the end of Claude’s contract, even though it is still months away, and hoping against hope that it gets renewed.  After all, I think we’re just starting to really get the hang of being Irish!  T’would be a shame to let all that learnin’ go to waste, now.

— Cindy

Kiss my Asda

There’s a British grocery store chain which advertises on television here called Asda.  They’re a wholly owned division of Wal-Mart.  Which, of course, means that if there were a store in Galway we would not shop there.  However, we are subjected to their commercials – at the end of which people are invited to save money by an actor who does so by patting their wallet…whilst in their back pocket.  In America, that is the same gesture one uses to invite a person to kiss one’s backside.

I am offended every time and feel the need to verbally invite the actor in the commercial to kiss mine too.

— Cindy

It’s almost here!

Galway City and the merchants who reside herein are all twitterpated about the Volvo Ocean Race.  It hits town on June 30th for a week of racing and the big finale of the whole shebang.  The activities they have planned are absolutely staggering.  There’s an expectation of over 150,000 people in our fair city; road closures seem likely to snarl things up quite well for the week.  They’re building a new bridge from the Spanish Arch to Claddagh Quay to facilitate all the visitors.  There are clean-up efforts all over the city center and new bike racks and beautification efforts like huge new flower planters all over the place.  Occupy Galway has plans to surprise everyone with a good, old-fashioned rousing protest on the final race day.  Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip is confirmed to be visiting at the finale of the race.  (There had been a rumor floated about Prince William attending, but alas, t’was not true.)  The weather prediction is for rain and mild temps in the 60s F (mid-teens C) plus probably some wind – typical Galway weather.  There’s shopping and food and fairs and festival stuff and… well it’s just going to be – as the Irish put it so well – GRAND.

Two of our daughters are going to be here the last few days of the race.  I’m kind of reluctant to expose them to the city in the condition it’s going to be in at that point because they are not going to get the real flavor of Galway.  However, things may be getting back to normal before they have to leave so perhaps they will at least get to see Salthill and the Prom in their natural state.  On the other hand, there are going to be tons of people from all over the world and exposure to them could be quite the enlightening experience!

Christ the Redeemer statue replica making its way through Salthill (Photo courtesy of the Galway Independent)

Race route

— Cindy

They work fast

Last Saturday was a big day for Salthill.  We had a huge GAA match – sadly, Galway lost – and a big concert in the park.  Mumford and Sons was playing along with other acts.  Due to the nature of the park, it was fairly easy to hear the music from the Prom.  Due to the weather, there were about a zillion people there on the Prom.  Due to the nature of people, there was a lot of drinking and a tremendous amount of refuse littering the place.  It was really quite disgusting!

Sunday morning was Claude’s birthday.  He rode out on his bike to get himself some coffee and came back to report that the Prom was clean.  I couldn’t believe it, it had been just filthy only a few hours before!  But when we went out for his birthday ice cream, sure enough the Prom was almost pristine.  Not a trace of the partiers of the night before – even the garbage that had been in between the beach rocks was gone.

Kudos to the people who work for Salthill on a job very well done!

— Cindy

Fresh Fog

Imagine a day in Galway where it rains. Sullen gray day with water intermittently falling from the sky. Such was the day recently as I headed home. As I approached the prom the sun burst forth and chased away the clouds. By the time I got to the prom I had to stop and remove my jacket as the sun was beating down so hard. Midway down the prom I noticed fog forming near the ground. Seems the sun was warming the sand and cement enough to form fresh fog that hugged the ground to just above head level where it dissipated. Now I have seen roads, sidewalks, and houses streaming fog but never before have I seen the sand do so. And while some people seem to think the fog comes in on little cat feet I am here to tell you I saw no cats.

— Claude

There’s no place like home

The reason for my return home – my son’s wedding

As an ex-pat one lives a strange dichotomy between home (the original) and home (the transplant).  I recently travelled back home to Colorado, only to return home to Galway a week later.  Both places are comfortable and familiar, vastly different but still the same to me.

It was wonderful to be back in the bosom of family again, enjoying the company of friends, revelling in the familiarity of place.  The weather was just the same: hot, dry and sunny.  Denver hadn’t changed a bit, at least not enough to really notice.  I enjoyed shopping once again at stores I recognized and could navigate around with little difficulty.  I had the chance to visit the new History Colorado Museum with my son and see their amazing exhibits, including “LEGO-rado”.  (Check out the Flickr set I put together of that exhibit.)  I also got the opportunity to see Gustavo Arellano (¡Ask a Mexican!) give a talk at Su Teatro and get my copy of his new book signed, after eating an incredibly delicious meal at El Noa Noa.  Oh mercy, how I do love my hometown…

Mmmmm delicioso!

In conversation with Gustavo

I took advantage of my location to eat as much authentic Den-Mex food as I could.  If I had to choose one thing I miss most while in Galway, it’s real Mexican food.  Denver Mexican, with fluffy, hot, buttery, thick flour tortillas and smothered in pork green chili.  Oh my gawd, I miss it again, already!  PS: I also had a huge chicken-fried steak with rich cream gravy at the Denver Diner, greatest diner in town – delicious!

Chimichanga & cosmo at Buenos Tiempos – so good!

The Capitol dome shines gold in the fading western sunlight

However, even with all the wonderful memories and face time I got in Colorado, I was so happy to return home to Galway.  The weather here is much cooler – more to my liking – and returning to my favorite husband is always a joy.  The fun began when I left the airport and found the bus headed back to Galway, on bank holiday Monday no less – I had a choice of taking the multi-stop bus leaving at 9:30 (which happened to be the exact time I arrived at the bus stop) or waiting for the 11:30 express.  The bus driver tried mightily to convince me that I wanted the 11:30 because he was going to make multiple stops and not arrive in Galway until approximately 13:30.  But the 11:30 express was not leaving for another 2 hours and would arrive in Galway 45 minutes AFTER the multi-stop bus!  When I tried to point that out to the driver he still wanted to argue with me about my choice of rides.  I told him I was taking his bus, loaded my luggage and boarded, all the while shaking my head in amusement and wonder at Irish sensibilities.  I suppose I would have really enjoyed the scenery of the route as well if I hadn’t been so exhausted that I slept through the entire ride…

My little boy is a husband now.  My little girl is all grown up too – she had another birthday while I was in Colorado – and is about to embark on her trip to join Claude and me here on the first leg of her first trip to Europe next month!  I can’t wait to show her around and welcome her to our new home.

— Cindy

Finding Mick Flavin

Monday AM and I am waiting for Cindy and she is not due back until the afternoon.

Weird Worm Piles

I wandered down to the beach, at low tide, and ambled around the surf. I saw little hermit crabs as well as the snails that built their houses. I even found the worms that make these weird piles.

In the tide pools I found small brown fish, and in the surf small green fish. I also saw a regular crab.Wonderful stuff.

Oh, who is Mick Flavin and where did I find him? Just above the surf line I found a CD in the sand. Having picked it up I couldn’t very well throw it back on the beach, so I carried it home.

Seems Mick Flavin is an old style Irish country singer.

.

— Claude