I’ve had a lot of trouble getting to the blog, our pads are inadequate and a good internet cafe is hard to find these days. I am at the library in Londonderry if you are a Unionist who wants to stay united with Britain, |Derry if you are a nationalist who wants to unite with with the Republic of Ireland. This is a beautiful city, surrounded by a wall that protected it from attacks. We had a Guiness at a place called Sandino’s (yup!) past night, and there were wonderful musicians jamming. There is a center for verbal expression we will surely visit later.
This city has a very troubled past, of course. There are plaques everywhere commemoratinge seige the Catholic English king James II laid to the cityin the 1600s. Also, there was a lot of IRA activity here during the Troubles, the uprising from 1968 – the 1990s. We will visit the Bogside, a Catholic area that was a center of things (we will be safe, no fears.)
Many people have long memories of those times. In Belfast, also a beautiful city, there is a Catholic neighborhood right next to a Loyalist one. Both are full of murals presenting their positions powerfully. There are also gates between the two areas that are often locked and guarded at night, and during times of tension. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful to us (especially when I say I have Irish blood in me), but tension still is around. People we’ve talked with say it is fading and will be gone one day, let’s hope.
We also visited the Giant’s Causeway, a very unique and beautiful geologic formation on the coast. Magma cooled and formed six sided blocks of basalt, which were eroded by wind, rain, and the ocean. That’s what geologists say, actually the famous Irish giant Finn McCool built this as a bridge to Scotland. A Scottish giant who wanted to fight Finn but was tricked and scared off by Finn and his clever wife Oona tore up most of the bridge as he escaped, so Finn couldn’t chase him. I am learning new Finn stories!
Oh yeah.. we had a layover in New York and visited the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge near JFK airport, a remarkable place. Check it out next time you are in town.
Time is running out here, I will post again when I find a computer I can use. We’ll be in Glascow tomorrow.