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Published: March 22nd 2008
My travels from Lithuania to Paris, France, took me first to Dublin, Ireland. Our departure from Lithuania really felt like a 'big' departure, given that Viktorija would not return until after our trip to South Africa, and I would be back only for a few weeks to play baseball, only to leave again for three months in South Africa.
We flew from Lithuania on Wednesday but not before a quick visit to the vaccination clinic for Viktorija to get her final Hepatitis vaccination before heading for the airport. Viktorija does not like getting shots; the first time we went to the clinic for her to have her shot, I went into the nurses' office with her. She was nervous. But this time she bravely went in by herself, got the shot, and came out unscathed. On our way back home we decided to stop at the bakery to buy several small pies to have with our tea as a sort of 'goodbye party' back at the house before heading off. When we got home there were the exact pies from the exact same bakery sitting on the table; apparently Jolanta had had the exact same idea as us and, while
we were at the clinic, had taken the bus to the bakery to pick up some pies.
We departed on a Ryan Air flight from Kaunas to Dublin. Arriving in Dublin we were greeted at the airport by Brian, Jolanta’s boyfriend. We took the city bus into the city. After an hour bus ride and a 25 minute hike through historic Dublin, we arrived at Brian's place. Brian lives in north Dublin, which means north of the Liffey, the main tidal water (not quite a ‘river’ by definition I don’t think) that splits the city in half.
I stayed in Dublin for five days before flying to Paris to rejoin my dance friends to begin our work on a dance performance.
Brian lives in the Dublin City Centre just off Meath Place, a street with lots of butchers and meat sellers (known historically for this reason) as well as many pubs, markets, and shops selling cheap knick knacks and household items.
Brian and Jolanta’s place is a quaint little 2 ½ room cottage with a living room, a bedroom, a small foyer, a half-kitchen, and a bathroom. There is a small outdoor space for hanging clothes
Kaip grazi atrodi, Greta!!
and a washing machine. It is right on the street, a quiet street, nonetheless you can hear very clearly all of the happenings out on the stoop. Every hour or so you will hear the clopping of horse hooves passing with a cart carrying odds and ends from one work site to another, from pack house to storefront.
Once we had unpacked a few things and settled in a bit, we set out to familiarize ourselves with the neighborhood. We went to LIDL, the nearest grocery store. I noticed as we walked through the streets that this was a very family-oriented neighborhood—on Meath Place you saw many mothers with their strollers, elderly folks with their grocery carts, young children running around, teenagers standing on the corner talking to their friends on their cell phones. Most of the folks seemed to me to be true ‘Dubliners,' i.e., with a Dublin accent and mostly caucasian.
Once you turn out onto the main street, where the LIDL Grocery store is, the atmosphere changes. There are lots of copy shops and discount shops, internet cafes. There folks walking around are slightly diverse. Many more foreign languages in the street, different skin colors,
snapshots from Kaunas
When it snows, they shovel the snow into the bike lane. Bikes are not very popular in Lithuania--and I rarely see this lane being used even when there is no snow. (Freedom Avenue/Laisves Ileja).
and different accents. As we were entering the LIDL food shop, a man approaches Brian and asks him for spare change. His English is not very good, and it is clear that he is very inebriated. Brian says ‘sorry;’ immediately two security guards come over and stand between Brian and the inebriated man, telling the man to leave the store. The exchange between the security guards and the drunk man was in Russian. And it was clear that this was not the first time they were having this conversation.
We spent the next day roaming the streets, handing out resumes to various bars and restaurants in the city center (Viktorija's resume). There were several shops with ‘help wanted’ signs in the windows, most of which were looking to fill part-time positions.
We took a 2-hour bus tour of Dublin. My favorite part was driving through the Guinness Brewery and smelling the hops from several blocks away. We also drove past the Jameson Distillery, and were going to go in for the tour but the cost was 12 Euros (a bit steep).
I left Dublin with one bizarre observation (one among many, the many I forgot because I
This clown was unlike I have ever seen. From the neck down she was dressed as a normal person, in fairly drab clothing. Then from the neck up she was in clown disguise.
did not write them down). Dubliners, it seemed to me, do not take very good care of their personal hygiene and health. This is possibly an unfair generalization, but I just felt like lots of the folks were walking in the streets when it was raining without coats and/or umbrellas, walking in the cold without jackets or scarfs or warm clothes in general. Moreover I noticed that people did not care for their babies very well—one woman was taking her baby for a walk in the stroller, it was quite cold outside, maybe around 40 degrees, and the baby was sitting there in the stroller with no hat, no gloves, a thin long-sleeve shirt, nose was dripping with snot, and the baby was eating a big bowl of sorbet. Outside! In cold weather! I thought this was quite crazy. And this was not an exception—I noticed many babies who were not properly clothed. Some without socks.
What is funny about this observation is that while in Lithuania people are always telling me to 'wear a hat' or 'you won't be cold?' So maybe my concern for these Dubliners and their babies is a bit of Lithuania seeping through. Since
A vendor at a street festival in Kaunas. Look at those meats!
Lithuania has a cold climate, people are very aware, I feel, of keeping warm and 'covering up' when it is cold outside. At Wesleyan, in winter, sometimes I would love to just go outside in the cold with jeans and a t-shirt. It's so refreshing.
One afternoon in Dublin we went to see a film—Viktorija, Brian, and myself. It was a ‘hitman’ flic about two hitmen from Ireland who somehow messed up a murder, killed the wrong person, and were now hiding out in Bruge, Belgium, to let things calm down. Very violent.
One couple brought their baby into the film!! The baby and the stroller. And about ten minutes into the film the baby started crying. Loud, uncontrollable crying. The dad, instead of taking the baby out of the theater, took the baby in his arms and began patting it firmly on the back. Trying to make it quiet. But the baby would not stop. It was unreal. The baby eventually calmed down, but throughout the film it would start up again, and not once did it occur to the couple to take the baby outside.
PS: One day while I was waiting outside
some traditional lithuanian music
a restaurant in Temple Bar as Viktorija was inside handing her resume to the manager, homeless guy walked up to me and said in his brash Irish accent: ‘Hey there, sir, could ya do me a favor? Could ya just give me a good kick in the balls? Just a quick kick in the balls and I won’t ask ya again.” And then he began to laugh. I didn't know what to say so I laughed too. Then he walked up to another stranger, and then three more, asking the same question. The next day when we walked through the square I saw the same man, lying on the cobblestone street on his side propping his head up with his elbow. He looked as if he was lying on a beach towel, sunbathing by the sea.
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