Bits and bobs

Random thoughts about random things by a random person


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I see colour

I used to think that was a bad thing to say. I’m not sure why – where the idea of not seeing the colour of someone’s skin became a bad thing. Somehow or other it became tied up with the idea of being racist or bigoted and if we wanted to be known as not being either of those two things we had to say “I don’t see colour.”

I’ve never liked that phrase, either, even though I’m sure I’ve said it.

But I didn’t believe it. I knew I saw colour. My eyes see what my eyes see. The same as I see the colour and style of someone’s hair, what type of clothes they are wearing, their jewellery – any number of physical characteristics about a person when I see them.

So it always seemed disingenuous to say it, or to hear it, even though it was what you were supposed to say.

I didn’t like it, then, because it just wasn’t true. Of course I saw the colour of someone’s skin. How ridiculous to say I didn’t.

Really, it’s insulting to all of us. I know I see it. You know I see it. You know I know I see it. But I’m afraid to admit that I see it because that will make me a bad person somehow. Because that’s what I’ve learned:

“If we could all just learn to not see colour, everything would be great.”

As you’ve probably noticed in your own journey, “I don’t see colour” has been a popular topic the past couple of months. I have learned that while it’s almost universally acknowledged that its origins may well have been well-intentioned, there is damage and hurt that occurs when we use it.

My first reaction was relief – I wasn’t a horrible person for not feeling right about saying it.

I then read more about it – to really understand why and how it was hurtful.

I’m so glad I did. As you can imagine, it’s not just about outright lying or denying diversity.

There are loads of negative things that simple, well-meant phrase can bring with it. Here are a just a few of things that I’ve learned that it can do:

  • disrupt conversations about racism
  • inadvertently support systemic racism
  • deny the experiences of those who have experienced the (overt and not-so-overt) impacts of racism, hatred and bigotry
  • make someone feel like you don’t see them

Perhaps the two biggest take-aways for me are first, the idea that if we deny that we even see colour – race – then we (even if unintentionally) deny that racism exists, and then second, that me saying that phrase could make someone seem like I don’t see them. How hurtful! Have you ever felt unseen? It’s an awful feeling. I would never want to make someone feel that way. Even if my intent in saying it is good, if it causes hurt, I need to re-evaluate.

I was going to list a bunch of resources for you to check out, but there really are too many. Just Google “I don’t see colour” (or “color” for our geographic neighbours to the south… 🙂 ) and you will have a plethora of experiences to read from. I promise you will find them valuable and eye-opening.

Also in my readings, I came across the research of Dr. Osagie K. Obasogie on the concept of race and colour blindness that is worth checking out. He talks about it in his book, Blinded by Sight: Seeing Race Through the Eyes of the Blind.

Or, for a shorter read, the Oxford University Press has a great interview with Dr. Obasogie and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that is super interesting.

Don’t let the “Eyes of the Blind” bit of the title fool you. There is value in it for all of us to reflect on. I highly recommend checking it out. Here’s a quote to whet your appetite:

This research certainly gave me a new appreciation of the extent to which understanding and “seeing” race has very little to do with vision. That is the gist of the book, i.e. the social and institutional practices that we’re constantly engaged in shape the way we look at people and the way that we live our lives—even for people who are blind.

Dr. Osagie K. Obasogie

So, even if we all did somehow stop “seeing” race, there is obviously so much more going on in racism than rods, cones and optic nerves.

Another reason, to me, to take the time to pay a little more attention.


Know better, do better.


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The Unfinished Puzzle

For the first two weeks of quarantine, our work computer system was limited in how many people could log in remotely at any given time and I struggled with the weird schedule that came with that.

On the Sunday heading into the third week, I decided to pull out a puzzle I’ve had for a while and dumped it onto the dining table.

I’m not fast at puzzles (unless they are super easy). So if I am going to do one, I need to know I will have a chunk of time to work on it and actually get it done because the dining table will be out of commission until the puzzle is finished.

Enter quarantine.

Plus, since puzzles are easy things to work on for a bit and walk away from, it would be a perfect thing for this new work schedule.

So, I dumped the puzzle out and got started, excited to have something different to work on.

March 29, 2020 – And so it begins!

Then, not even a couple of hours later, I got an email explaining how the system had been boosted or bolstered (or whatever the right word is for this situation) and we were no longer restricted in when we could log on.

Most of me was happy to hear that. I was glad that I could get back to my regular schedule and, with all the general pandemic weirdness, it was nice to have some kind of normalcy re-established.

But a tiny part of me was not so happy. Ironically, that weekend I had finally gotten myself into a head space that was ready to accept the new schedule. That was what had led to the whole puzzle thing. So that part of me thought, “But the puzzle! I just started the puzzle!!”

Had I gotten the email earlier on Sunday, I wouldn’t have even pulled the puzzle out. There was no way I’d get it done quickly and pack it away any time soon. My dining table was now off limits for an undetermined amount of time. Dang.

Not that I actually use it to eat. But still. I didn’t want the puzzle there until the next millennium and now it very well might be.

I went at it like gangbusters initially and got about half of it done the first week. I picked at it on and off for a while after that and then, when it got too hard (yes, I’m a puzzle wuss) I stopped working on it at all.

And it sat there staring at me, almost taunting me. “You can’t just leave me here. You need to finish me. C’mon! What are you waiting for??”

But I couldn’t. I had no interest in sorting through the bits that were left. The only part of me that wanted to finish it was the part that seemed to believe in some unwritten rule that if you start a puzzle you absolutely have to finish it. Or else.

Now, I had no idea what that “or else” was, but it felt like it would be bad.

So even though the occasional “Just pack it up and put it away” thought would flit into my mind, I would mentally gasp at the audacious horror of the thought and dismiss it immediately: “I can’t!!! I just can’t!!!”

And so, there it sat. Week after week after week.

Then, on May 29, 2 months to the day later from when I pulled it out of the box, I had had enough. I was sick of looking at it. I knew that I wasn’t going to finish it. And I realized it was really silly to leave it there for literally no good reason.

May 29, 2020 – Enough is enough!

It made me think about how a few years ago I was reading a book that I was absolutely not enjoying at all. Like not even a little bit. I had a similar “rule” in my head then: If you start a book, you have to finish it.

Um…no you don’t.

I remembered that I went through the same process at the time – wanting to give up on it, but also feeling like I couldn’t. As though somehow it wasn’t allowed.

I don’t remember what the book was, but I ultimately realized the foolishness of that thought process and finally put it down and walked away.

Liberty!

And now the puzzle? I had to finish it? Really? Why? Why do I absolutely, unequivocally have to finish this puzzle? What’s the worst that will really happen?

I’ll tell you what will happen: Nothing.

Zero.

Zilch.

Zippo.

So I packed it up and put it away. Done and dusted!

And boy howdy, I tell you that felt good!

How weird, right? I mean…big deal. Big. Fat. Hairy. Deal. I put a puzzle away.

And yet, there it was. It felt amazing! Liberating!

When I was younger I had the opposite problem – I couldn’t ever finish anything. To an embarrassing extent, actually.

I have worked really hard at overcoming that, or at least becoming much better about it. And it seems that perhaps I have let the pendulum swing a bit too far the other way, so that I couldn’t let myself not finish something even when it really was the smart thing to do.

Maybe, then, I felt so good about it (as small a decision as it was) because it’s another step towards finding balance.

So…if you are in that boat, and in case you are wondering: You don’t have to finish the puzzle. Nope. You don’t. Box it up and put it away.

It’s OK. You are still a good person. 🙂


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Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, is a safe place to have the uncomfortable conversations about race that many white people have never been able to have.

uncomfortableconvos.com

As you know, I have started a journey to learn more in an effort to be more active in promoting and creating racial equality and justice.

One thing I came across this week was Emmanuel Acho’s new video series, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”.

If you want to get right to it and skip my comments, you can find the videos in several spots: under @themanacho on Instagram, at Acho’s YouTube channel, and on the website uncomfortableconvos.com .

At this point there are two videos. The intent is for them to be conversations between Acho and others, but the first video features Acho by himself, explaining the purpose of the series. The second one is a conversation between Acho and Matthew McConaughey.

Both are great. Several different topics are discussed and viewpoints are explained. They are easily accessible and understandable. It all feels very…approachable. I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but that’s how it felt.

This might sound corny, but they also make me feel hope. They make me feel like it’s OK that I’m not perfect and that I don’t have to understand everything right now, I just need to keep at it.

They are pretty short, too, which I think is great because we have time to think about and digest the topics discussed – time to internalize the concepts before moving to the next one. The first one is 9.5 minutes long and the second one is 13 minutes. So, there you go!

Hmmm…I think the way I’m describing them makes them sound more like university lectures or something. That’s not how they are. They are very casual, and comfortable. Matthew McConaughey had notes in his video and that felt a bit weird, but seemed to fit better as the video progressed. And, honestly, I appreciated the info so much that I didn’t really care that he had notes.

One of the things that they talked about, and that I think will be a great tool in conversations I will have about this, is a way to explain how the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter.

The analogy was that right now, as we all know, there is a huge emphasis on COVID-19. We all know about it and we all need to take precautions to get the spread under control and keep each other safe. The current focus on COVID-19 doesn’t mean that there aren’t other diseases and illnesses that are also important. It just means that, right now, this one is a crisis and particular focus on it is required.

It’s the same with Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. It just means there is a crisis that we all need to step up for and be part of the resolution.

I have struggled to find a way to explain that concept and this really helped me. It’s not that I didn’t believe the idea of it before. I just struggled to find a way to explain it that is probably easy for most people to understand.

Anyhoooooo…even if that point isn’t an aha moment for you, there will surely be other things that strike you in these or subsequent videos, so I definitely recommend that you check them out!


When we learn better, we do better.


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Small kindnesses – How my neighbour makes my day every day

Like many of you, I am currently working from home because of the pandemic (and not-so-secretly hoping it gets to continue afterwards). My office is in my den, which looks out towards the parking lot of our condo complex. I know…it doesn’t sound like much of a view. But actually it’s kind of nice.

Where it all happens!

From spring through the fall, birds and chipmunks and squirrels perform their respective theatrics. Once there was even a curious bunny who decided to try out his burgeoning thespian skills. (He has not done a repeat performance, so I suspect his stage colleagues were not that impressed with him.) In any event, they are busy, busy, busy little critters and I am happy to have them break up the day.

In winter, when the feathery or furry performers are off to warmer climes or snoozing the months away, it’s still quite pretty. Whether it’s a blanket of fluffy, freshly-fallen snow or a storm still in progress, it’s lovely – especially because I don’t have to do my hour-long commute in it!

But, one of my absolute favourite things of the day happens at about 8:20 every morning.

That’s when Paul comes home.

No, he’s not my spouse/partner/significant other, child or other member of my household.

In fact, I’ve only spoken to him once, when I met him and his wife as we all happened to be coming home at the same time one day a year or so ago. They live in one of the condos upstairs with their daughter. Our respective schedules and habits obviously don’t intersect much because that hasn’t happened since.

When Paul gets home, he backs their SUV into their parking spot. This is important because it means that the driver’s door is on the side of the entrance where my den window is. When he gets out and walks towards the entrance, he ends up heading first towards my window, before going up the steps to the front door.

The first few times I noticed him coming home it was completely by fluke. I happened to look up at that particular moment, or something caught my eye, or whatever. Then, a couple of times, he happened to look in the same direction as me at the same time I looked in his direction. We each smiled politely and waved. It has since become a daily habit and even when he’s wearing a face mask, it’s still easy to see his cheerful smile (at the end of a night shift no less which is no mean feat in and of itself).

Integral to this little story is the fact that live by myself and, while I have enjoyed many aspects of physical distancing and restricted social interactions (I love me my alone time!), it has been challenging not having an actual human being to interact with. Phones and emails and texts and so on are fine and definitely help, but there’s nothing like looking at a real, live, 3D human being and having an interaction.

And so, I soon found myself looking forward to 8:20 a.m. The smile and wave take less than 2 seconds out of the 86,400 seconds in a day, but it is one of the most enjoyable things that happens every work day.

Paul likely doesn’t think twice about it. And why would he? He has family responsibilities as soon as he gets in the door and likely myriad other things to occupy his time.

But it sure has meant a lot to me. It helped me feel connected to the world outside my home, especially for those first couple of months of the pandemic. So many things were (and still are) strange and unpredictable. It has been nice to have something cheerful and predictable to look forward to each day!


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I can breathe – Action against racism

On my Instagram account, I follow a few friends, but mostly I’m on there to find recipes and ideas for the various crafty/hobby things I’m into. It’s a pretty happy and peaceful and inspiring place to be and I’m pretty protective of that.

In the past few days, several of the people I follow – food bloggers, hand lettering professionals, card makers, etc. – have been posting things that have disrupted this social media utopia that I have worked hard to build.

Rather than the regular recipes or lettering tips that have me drooling or rushing for my brush pens, they have posted their positions on racism, in response to what is going on currently in the US.

I knew that speaking up and speaking out were the right things to do. I had even also thought about posting something. But did I really want to destroy my happy place? Did I want to open myself up to the controversy that would likely come from such a post?

While doing my standard mental prevarication, I noticed that some of the accounts specifically stated that they were voicing their positions because of the large followings they had and they felt a responsibility to not stay silent about it.

Sadly, my next thought was, “Well, I only have 120 or so followers so it doesn’t matter if I voice my position.” Underlying that was the unvoiced (even in my head) thought that I was off the hook. Momentary relief!

Thankfully it didn’t fully quiet my conscience and when one of my favourite quotes popped up today, it called me on the carpet.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand by and do nothing.

Edmund Burke

That was a punch to my integrity gut. That quote has been a favourite of mine for a long time. But how important is it to me really if I am willing to be one of those “good” [people] who stand by and do or say nothing?

And yet, there I was, looking for reasons not to speak up. Reasons to let “someone else” do something.

I am ashamed to say it, but there it is. And that’s OK. We have to acknowledge the uncomfortable realities within ourselves in order to really learn, change and move forward.

So here I am.

It doesn’t matter if I have 12 followers, 120 followers, or 120 million followers.

If I really, truly believe that quote, then I have to speak, or accept that I tacitly approve the behaviour that I would like to think that I oppose.

And, really, I’m not doing this for anyone else’s benefit but my own. I need to say something because I need to know that I can have my actions match what I say are my values.

This, then, is my first step – publicly acknowledging that systemic racism does still exist and is very much alive. I live with white privilege and because of that I don’t have to worry about a policeman’s knee on my throat. I can breathe.

I need to figure out now what I can do to change this reality – at least in my own little corner of the world.

I don’t know what all my next steps will be. One thing for sure will be writing more posts about this as I move along in my learning process.

I’ll likely screw up along the way, but I need to not let fear of doing or saying something wrong paralyze me into inaction.

If I come across any resources that I think might be helpful, I’ll be sure to share them.

Till then…Be well and be safe.


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Catching up!

Sooooooooo…my grand plan of writing 50 posts in the year I turned 50 was a success. During my holiday in Ireland, I wrote my little fingers off and made my target. Yay me!

While I was quite happy with that success, it had the unplanned-for effect of writing burn out! As such, I haven’t written anything here since then. Alas and alack!!

Anyway…before I pick up the digital pen again in earnest, I thought it would be good to write a catch-up post. 1) It will be quick and easy. 2) It will at least get me back at it. Win-win!

Without further ado…here’s the scoop from the past six months. (Don’t blink…you might miss it!)

Since the Ireland trip, things have been pretty…standard. Nothing exciting going on. Work, friends, family, hobbies, repeat. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s thrown in for a little variety.

One thing of note (sort of) is the birthday “gifts” the province of Ontario gave me.

Within days of getting back from Ireland, I got letters from the health department telling me that, because I have now hit the golden age of 50, there are various medical tests I need to have done. They obviously did NOT waste any time on that!

Actually, it’s good that they are that on the ball. The timing was just super funny (to me): “Hey! You turned 50!! Here’s a letter so you can go get your boobs squished!! Woot! Woot!!”

They are serious about it, too.

I didn’t exactly rush out and have any of it done. My doctor and I were working on my blood pressure (all fixed now, thank you very much!) and I didn’t want to add a bunch more stuff to the medical list just yet.

In other words…I put the letters aside.

Then they sent them again.

Not one to succumb to peer pressure, I put them aside again. It started to look like this was going to be a game of medical paperwork chicken. Oh yeah?? Bring it! 😀

Then in late February my doctor brought it up. D’oh! I couldn’t exactly put him in the pile with the other papers, could I?

And if that weren’t enough, the FIT package showed up in the mail. Double D’oh!

By then I was starting to really take the hint, and had even gone so far as to read the FIT instructions, but wouldn’t you know it? The COVID-19 pandemic hit and I can’t do any of the tests now. Shucks and wazoo!

Hmmm…in a completely unplanned way, that little anecdote has turned out to be the perfect segue way from the trip to the present! Who knew!

Lest you think I am wont to disregard health things on a regular basis, I should clarify that I do take my health seriously…this was just a series of funny timing things.

Alternatively, it may just seem funny because of the social distancing thing. 🙂


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Days 17 & 18 (Sept 28-29/19): Dublin and home!

I caught an early train from Killarney to Dublin on Sept 28th for my last stop before returning home. It was mostly a nice day – just a bit overcast but otherwise nice. There were even some sunny spots along the way, which were quite cheery.

The train ride went well, but it turned out that I had booked myself a backward-facing seat. Boo hiss!! You can’t tell when you book the seat what direction the car will be facing when en route. I rolled the dice and lost!

All was not lost, though – there wasn’t anybody sitting beside me, so I won the comfort toss on that one. 🙂

When I got into Dublin (just before 11 a.m.), I got a taxi to my hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn Dublin Custom House) and dropped my bags off.

I had picked that hotel because it was next to the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum. I have an interest in genealogy so I wanted to go to the museum to see if I could get some information about emigration to Newfoundland and maybe make some connections to the people in my family tree from Ireland – maybe through ship manifests or something.

It didn’t have that kind of information, but was very interesting all the same. In part because of the architecture.

It is in the restored CHQ (Custom House Quay) building. Shops, cafes and such, and the entrance to the museum, are on the main level and the displays are below ground, in the vaults that were used for storage of cargo.

One surprising thing was that, in one of the displays that showed the impacts of Irish emigration worldwide, Newfoundland didn’t really figure in much. Even more surprisingly was that the west coast of Newfoundland was the only part that showed up, not the east coast – the part called “The Irish Loop”. It’s interesting – something I’ll do some more digging on.

It was all really well done, I have to say. There was a nice mix of types of displays – visual, audio, interactive, etc. If you are ever in Dublin, I recommend checking it out.

Here are some pictures of one of the displays. It was a busy place so it wasn’t possible to get a photo sans visitors.

After the museum, I booked a session with a professional genealogist for a little later in the afternoon. I ate my lunch on the main level of the CHQ and then headed back to the hotel to get settled in before the genealogy session.

I discovered quite clearly when I got into my room that I apparently love purple. In addition to the purple backpack and suitcases (which fit in perfectly with the room decor!), I should add that my Fitbit strap, tablet case and cell phone cover are also purple. None of it was planned – all items were bought completely separately (well, except for the suitcases, which came as a set). I may need to branch out… 🙂

The room was quite comfortable and had a lovely view over the River Liffy.

You can’t really tell, but there’s a protest march of some sort on the other side of the river. I’m not sure what it was about. It sounded like they were chanting “No more Duncan Hynes”, but I’m pretty confident that’s not what they were actually saying. 🙂 🙂 🙂

The genealogy session was a lot of fun! The guy working with me was Patrick. He was a hoot!! Mind you, I’m a bit of a family history geek, so my definition of “fun” might be a bit different than yours!

After that, I went to a pub that’s also in the CHQ building and had a sodie pop and people watched for a while before dinner.

Urban Brewing, Dublin

The pub is on the main floor and has a nice, large outdoor seating area, too. The pub only serves tapas and I wanted a really nice meal for my last one in Ireland. However, downstairs is the affiliated Stack A restaurant so I opted to go there for dinner. Like the museum, is also located in the old custom vaults and is just spectacular.

Despite the quality issues with some of the photos, I think you can see why I say that. The food was amazing, too.

If I’m ever back in Dublin, I’m going back there for sure.

If you’re ever in Dublin, you need to go, too!

After a nice, leisurely dinner, I went back to the hotel for the drudgery of packing for my flight the next day and going through my receipts and stuff for Customs. Not an exciting way to spend your only night in Dublin, but necessary and, even so, it was still a lovely last night of my holiday.

The next morning brought me to the airport – after a lovely taxi ride with a super nice driver. No hitches or glitches with either of my flights, either.

And then, before I knew it, I was home.


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Day 16 (Sept 27/19): Killarney – St. Mary’s Church of the Sloes

This was my last day before going to Dublin.

I had originally thought to do a bus/boat tour to another part of the National Park today, but the weather was on-again-off-again rainy – again – and I had had enough of being wet the last few days, so I stayed around Killarney.

That’s not to say that I completely avoided getting wet – I didn’t. But I was able to trot back to the hotel to change and warm up, rather than spend the day in wet clothes.

I mostly just did some more twacking around, finishing up some gift buying.

I also went into the church across the street from my hotel – St. Mary’s. I had posted a picture of it previously when I was here two weeks ago. It’s really quite lovely. Below are some pictures of the windows inside.

Before I forget, and to keep in line with the unintentional theme for this trip of “Switches”, here’s how the Killarney Plaza Hotel deals with lights: You have to insert your room key in a slot in the entry of your room in order for any of the lights or anything to work. It’s a neat way to reduce electricity wastage!

And, speaking of the hotel…it was really quite lovely itself. I quite enjoyed hanging out on here to read and write for a bit while it was raining outside.

And so closes the Ring of Kerry chapter of my holiday!!


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Day 15 (Sept 26/19): Killarney National Park (Part 2)

I promised pictures of Killarney National Park and, at long last, here they are!

The first place we visited on the tour was Muckross Abbey. The walk from the road to the Abbey was so pretty. It was an on-again-off-again rainy day, so the skies were grey all day, but everything was beautifully green.

Then, of course, there was the Abbey itself. Most of it was built in the 15th century, with some small additions built in the 16th century.

On one end of the Abbey was a field. Check out the warning sign below. Not one I’d seen before, so I thought it was kind of fun. 🙂

After that was the walk over to Muckross House, which was about a kilometre away. It was so beautiful and serene. This walk was one of my favourite parts of the visit to the Park.

The house itself was (as you can see) quite something itself, but I didn’t go in other than to visit the loo. The natural setting held my attention much more, I have to say.

The bus picked us up from there and then we headed to Torc Waterfall, which is about 200 metres along a trail from where the bus dropped us off. The walk was even more beautiful than the waterfall itself and is why this was my absolute favourite stop on the tour. Most people booted it directly to the waterfall, though. I get it – it was raining. Not the best weather for a leisurely stroll, but it was so. dang. beautiful. It was only 200 metres, but it probably took me at least 20 minutes to get up there because I kept stopping along the way.

The colour was indescribable. The photos really and truly don’t do it justice. There is a moss or lichen or something that grows on most of the trees, giving everything this soft, almost glowing green colour. It was spectacular and beautiful, and felt reverential and ethereal. I could imagine Tolkien characters fitting in quite nicely there. 🙂

From there we were off to Ladies View. It had been raining quite hard for a while by then and the driver asked if we just wanted to go back to town. I would have been fine to skip the last stop, but the couple who was also on the tour wanted to go on, so we went.

The roads were really narrow and we had a tough time at one point when we (a smaller shuttle bus) were facing a full-size tour bus coming from the opposite direction. I had taken a couple of pictures to show you just how very tight the squeeze was for us to pass each other, but somehow or other I deleted them. D’oh!

At any rate, the view there was lovely and it wasn’t raining by then (just misty at most). There was a restaurant there where we had lunch before heading back to Killarney.

OK…that’s it for Killarney National Park!

If you are ever even sort of close to it, you should really check it out!!


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Day 15 (Sept 26/19): Killarney National Park (Part 1)

I arrived in Killarney much too early Thursday to check into my hotel, but I was able to drop my bags off there and head out.

I was, however, early enough for the Killarney National Park bus tour that I had scoped out when I was here two weeks ago.

It wasn’t a great day for weather, but it wasn’t awful, either. Plus the forecast for Friday was pretty well the same, so no point waiting. Carpe diem, right?

We weren’t many on the tour and it wasn’t a regular kind of bus tour. I had expected some bits of info shared by the driver, or another person on the bus for that person, but nope. Nada.

Well, he did stop at one point while we were en route to point out a herd of deer that were laying about and/or grazing in a field just off the road. But there was no commentary about the area or anything.

I suppose maybe it was in the name – it was a “shuttle” as opposed to a “tour”, so I guess that was it.

I had checked in at the Irish tourism office before doing the tour, and while the man was pleasant, he wasn’t super helpful or forthcoming with info. He and two other colleagues had been chatting when I approached, so maybe that was why – he just wanted to get back to the chat.

I’ve found that fairly common, actually. Not brushing you off to get back to a chat, but not being very forthcoming with info. I understood it at the train station two weeks ago – the guy gave basic info in Dublin and I had to ask for some more specifics. But the train isn’t tailored for tourists. It’s just a regular mode of transport.

But a shuttle bus/tour of the National Park…well…um…that’s geared towards tourism. Even if there are locals who do use it repeatedly, it’s safe to assume that tourists (particularly those in the tourism office asking questions don’t know the “normal” way of doing things.

On tours I’ve done in other places, they’ve been really good about what you need to do, where you need to go, how to get there, etc.

Not a big deal – just interesting. Plus, maybe I have developed a face like a smacked arse and nobody wants to talk to me more than they absolutely have to? 😉

At any rate, I made it to the bus and the park. We had the same driver the whole day. He wasn’t very forthcoming at first, either, until I had asked a few questions. Then it became clear to him that he couldn’t just drop us off and assume we knew what the heck we were about.

There was an older couple on the bus, too, and they really didn’t know what the scoop was. It was obvious that the husband did not know much English at all and relied on his wife for that. I could tell she was struggling, too, even with the driver’s explanations of what time we needed to be back at the bus.

The lady and I chatted a little at one stop. I asked where they were from, fully expecting (from the sound of the language they were speaking) an eastern European country. Her answer almost stopped me dead in my tracks: “Dublin.”

Whaaaaaaaaat?

She followed it up with the fact that they were originally from Lithuania. “Ohhhhh…OK. That makes sense,” I thought. “They must have recently moved.”

Wrong again!

She told me they’ve been in Dublin for 30 years.

I became instantly grateful for the relative ease with which I learn languages. I can’t imagine living somewhere for 30 years and still be struggling with basic things like the time.

They seemed nice, but conversation was very stilted and limited to “What time…?” and “Awful weather…” The husband, bless his socks and slippers, tried to make conversation at one point, too, when his wife was off somewhere.

“You from Canada…In France?” I asked a couple of times to confirm that that was indeed what he was asking and I tried to explain that Canada was in North America, but I don’t know how successful I was.

But despite the linguistic challenges, we helped each other out. I was a bit of a go-between with the driver and the woman for some things and she came and alerted me at Ladies View to the fact that the bus had arrived, to make sure that I didn’t miss it.

As always, the people you meet add such an interesting dimension to travel!

This post is getting long, so I think I’ll count this one as done. I’ll post pictures in a later post (or two?). The image uploading options are better on my laptop than in this app, so I might actually wait till I’m home in a couple of days.

Before I close, though, I have to say that if you ever get the chance to go to Killarney National Park, please be sure to do so. As I’ve said before, my tablet doesn’t have a great camera, so the photos really do not do the place justice. But it really is worth the time to go there.


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