You Learn to Take Life as it Comes to You

I’ve been staring at my screen for nearly twenty minutes thinking of how to share my experiences over the past two weeks in a concise manner. And, no bright ideas havs surfaced(aside from promising myself that I’ll be more prompt with blog postings in the future).

When I last posted, I had just left the warm comfort of Phil’s home and was excited to begin my adventures in the city of Dublin and beyond. Originally, I intended to stay in Dublin for nearly two weeks but for a variety of reasons (one of which being that I need to return to Dublin at the end of the month for meetings) I cut my time in Dublin short and headed to the Wicklow mountains. Before doing so, however, I attended a Gaelic Football match, stumbled upon a Zombie Walk for Cancer, and listened to traditional Irish music in a pub:




From Dublin, I got on a bus for Wicklow, Ireland and stayed in Captain Halpin’s Hostel for three days. Unknowingly, my visit corresponded with the end of their annual regatta so I got to see lots of rowing, a blessing of the boats, and some fireworks. I set out to Wicklow to experience the hiking in the local Wicklow mountains and the visit far surpassed any expectations. On my first day, I walked along cliffs overlooking the atlantic:



annnnd it was beautiful! Good conversation, food, live music, and fireworks followed. The next morning, the hostel owners took a van full of us to Glendalough in the mountains. And, I found myself hiking up a challenging but beautiful mountain with an incredible group of people. To Lucy, Leo and the rest of the gang: thank you for making me feel so included. Anyways, here are some pictures from the hike:





Fun fact about Wicklow: parts of the drama P.S. I Love You were filmed in the Wicklow Mountains. So obviously, I watched the film with a room full of girls (and the stray guy) in the hostel. It’s not exactly an uplifting movie nor is it the best movie I’ve ever watched but something about being in Wicklow and falling in love with the scenery made me like it a bit more than I would have otherwise.

I left Wicklow spoiled: the hostel was warm and comfortable, the scenery was great, and I had met a great group of people. After such a great experience, it was a bit of a shock to the senses to come to my hostel in Cork City. I stayed at a hostel called Bru Bar and Hostel and quickly learned to never stay in a hostel with a bar attached to the name. The good thing about not liking your hostel though is that it encourages you to spend as little time as possible inside. And so, I found myself traveling to the last docking port of the Titanic (just a few miles away from Cork). For those of you who don’t know, I’m fairly obsessed with everything involving the Titanic. And, I can quote more than a healthy amount of the lines from the movie. So, obviously, I went to the Titanic museum in Cobh and quoted Titanic lines to myself the entire time:




The thing I’ve found about my studying so far is that even when I’m not looking for it something related to Alzheimer’s, dementia, or aging issues tends to pop up. Millvina Dean was the last living survivor of Titanic (she was just two months old when the ship sank and was boarded in third class accomodations). Towards the end of her life, she ran into a number of health issues and desperately sought out ways to pay for a suitable nursing home and mounting health care costs. The selling of her Titanic relics paired with generous support from James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Winslet helped Millvina comfortably live for the last couple of years of her life.

From Cork, I set out to Schull–a small fishing village in West Cork. And, I had pretty high hopes for my two weeks in Schull. Through the help of an internet site, I had found a small French chocolate/pastry/coffee/wine bar that I could help out at for a few hours a day in exchange for free room, board, and cooking lessons. The hope was that I could spend time integrating within a community in order to get a more authentic understanding of the issues surrounding aging in the town and learn how to make some chocolate, eat some good food, and feel part of a team for a bit of time. A few hours a day, however, has turned to into my working a full time job in exchange for crappy food and a mean owner. As a result, I’m leaving Schull a few days early and soon writing a negative review for the cafe. There have been some good times here though and I’ve met a number of fascinating people. And, this weekend I had a chance to go to the most southernly point in Ireland—Cape Clear Island.

20120819-223855.jpg. The water looks so appealing to jump into but once you touch it “it hits you like a thousand knives.” Despite this, one of my goals for Ireland is to go swimming in the Atlantic.

Anyways, I quickly found the hiking trails on the Island and got to it. Because of a relatively late night, a bit of a wine hangover, and an early departure, I didn’t really wear the best clothing for the hike. And, after about the 1st mud hole of many that nearly swallowed me whole, I quickly accepted that I was going to be a muddy mess. And, that I was going to like it! Here are some pictures from the hike:




This was a pretty long post–ooops! I promise to be better about posting from now on. Next stops: Galway, the Aran Islands, hiking in Connemara, Belfast (for another Titanic exhibit and a contact related to Alzheimer’s), Athlone, and then Dublin for some more meetings, an Alzheimer’s event, and a visit to a local “help” facility.




About tomakingitcount12

I'm a recent college graduate studying cultures of Alzheimer's care giving throughout the international community thanks to a generous fellowship from Hendrix College. My fellowship with enable me to meet with leading Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and aging professionals, attend a number of conferences, and to learn from caregivers in Ireland, Western Europe, and South Africa. My fellowship was inspired by my Auntie Mare and Grandma Louis, both of whom passed away in May of 2011 after suffering from the disease for several years.
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