Greetings, my readers!
Once again, I must apologize for my inexcusable absence over the past five days. My work schedule has been alternating between 9-5 and 1-9, and it is really messing with me. The internet has also been awful because a large group of Americans have been staying next door and are stealing away all the internet! They are also loud, as we Americans tend to be. And here I am, making excuses even though I said it was inexcusable. Sorry folks, but here are some updates about what has been going on!
The weekend before the one just past, we went to Derry-Londonderry! (Alright, everyone calls the place Derry, but the longer name is the technically correct name.) We dragged our miserable butts out of bed at 6 in the morning and took an early train to the lovely city. The first day consisted of some interesting talks, but it was tough to stay awake since we were all super sleep deprived.
We visited the Void art gallery on that Friday afternoon. There, we saw “Catholic Blood”, which was a conceptual art exhibit. The room had that disturbing rusty smell of blood, and actual blood was being pumped into and through a glass sculpture that is the Rose Window of the Houses of Parliament. The artist, Andrei Molodkin, is Russian. The blood was actually anonymously donated from Catholic residents around the area. A tad bit spooky if you ask me! Take a look at the pictures and let me know what you guys think!
After a wonderful dinner during which I ate the best chicken Alfredo pasta I’ve ever had, we went back to the gallery for a photo exhibit. There were some striking pictures that were taken during the Troubles. I was amazed at how poignant every single photo was. My favorite was one photo where a military person was pointing a rifle at someone, and a civilian in a black pea-coat was ducking under the neck of the gun while passing through. The caption said something along the lines of, “He’s seen it all before. It’s nothing new – this can only be Derry.”
After that, I hung out with the site coordinator and program director for a while. Then, we all went to a club together. A couple girls and I went to a dance club because the first one was boring, but we turned up way too early and had to wait for people to show up. Even when they did, we were the only non-white people to be there and we were not even dressed in club gear. It was interesting because even though I am a minority back in the States, I never really felt it. However, in that place where everybody was the same – namely all white Northern Irish teenagers – I really felt that we were different and were noticed as being so.
We soon left and headed back to the Serendipity House, which was great. It was adorable, super clean, and everything I would be wanting in a quaint place to stay. The restrooms were covered in granite; I mean, come on, who can refuse shiny granite? =) The next morning we all got an “Ulster fry” for breakfast, and the staff dude who cooked it for us was super pleasant. I would definitely head there if I am ever in Derry again!
On that second day, we got a walking tour in which the story from a Nationalist perspective was told to us. As always, the murals were amazing but what was fascinating was that a lot of the murals were recreations of photographs we had seen in the art gallery the previous night. That really made the experience that much more meaningful. After that, we went to a mini-museum that had lots of artifacts from the Troubles, including clothes and belongings of people who died during the violence in Derry; it was disturbing to see the clothes since many were accompanied by photos of the owners as they were dying and the bullet holes were marked so that they were easily found. It was fascinating to realize that so many of the places in the photos look almost exactly the same today – and we were standing right inside some of those locations. However, not so many years ago, these crazy violent happenings were…happening right there. I guess more things survive time then you would normally think about.
Before we headed back on the return train, we had a little bit of free time to do some shopping. I thought that the prices were not good, so I ended up buying a small non-stick frying pan. I got laughed at, but that’s okay because I knew that the pan would be awesome and I wouldn’t have to use the nasty cast iron pan the hostel has for communal use. Though cast iron pans are some of the best, that one has been so abused that it should be illegal for anyone to use it.
That was our trip to Derry! Next up: Family Fun Day in Lisburn.