Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Emerald Isle

Before last week, I had never been outside of North America. My mom planned for our family to go to Ireland. She and my father ventured there on their honeymoon twenty four years ago, and she wanted us children to see the beauty that the country has. And we did. 
The peak season for visitors in Ireland is July- September. This is when the grass is the lushest and the water is warm enough to swim in. Dingle, Ireland, which is where were went, gets a majority of their income from tourists (the other percentage they get from sheep).

 I seriously have never seen so many sheep in my life. Incredible. And each batch or herd or flock of sheep is marked with a different color. Which I can only assume is the way that they keep track of whose sheep are whose! It's amazing how here in America, people have to worry about if the animals used for meat, wool, etc are treated well, have enough room to roam, and are not underfed. Room to roam: well just about anywhere. The animals here just hop over the fence if they think the grass is greener. They have enough to eat, unless the grass stops growing. And I am sure that they have probably the best quality of life of any animal anywhere. If I were a sheep farmer in Ireland, I would have a great laugh if one of my marked sheep ended up on the other side of the country! 

Well I got quite side tracked with the sheep..we went to Ireland in mid February, and the locals told us that this was the worst winter they had, had in forty years. Not a snow flake in sight. I think I realized that although I have grown up with four seasons, I think I could do without one: SNOW. It was quite windy and did rain about everyday, but most of the rain was light and gone within ten minutes. I guess what my point is, that Ireland is beautiful not only in the few tourist months. 

Another difference I noted that I was quite happy with was the lack of "Americanization". Christopher told me that I continued to use this phrase wrong and that it is "Globalization" that I was thinking of. I guess I am just a naive American who has not traveled the globe and thinks that America is the only place that is so.. industrialized.. for lack of a better word. The example of this that stuck in my mind was that there were no fences. You know...go to look at the Grand Canyon, there is a big old fence making sure you don't fall off the side of the mountain. Here, no fence, you just fall. It doesn't take away the beauty like a fence does. You just have to be smart and not fall off the side of the cliff. Natural beauty at it's finest. 

At first it was hard to get used to the Euro to 
Dollar exchange. I was confused because a Euro is one dollar and forty cents. I am very thrifty and I found my self holding back but I wasn't sure why. Then I realized that it was because although the Euro is more valuable than the dollar, the food cost the same number of Euros as it would have been dollars. So I saw a muffin for one euro, but I stopped myself because that meant the muffin was really one dollar and forty cents. But it was the same muffin as I bought in the airport in Newark for 99 cents. So why did it cost forty extra cents? Americans are not willing to spend a lot of money on food, therefore the prices are cheaper in the United States. If I would spend more money on one think I think it would be food. 

Americans value time, so do Europeans, but on opposite ends of the spectrum. Rush, rush rush. That's all we ever do. How fast can you get from point A to point B? How long will you spend in line at the grocery store? It seems like the emphasis is always on the wait. In Ireland it often takes several hours to get from point A to B. This is not only because of the windey or as my mom said "piggly wiggly" roads, but because you have to cross mountains and valleys to get to your destination. People don't rush around the way that we are accustomed to. This is a theme that runs throughout other areas across the pond. In Spain they break their day in half with a siesta! A more relaxed way of life, I would take that. Here we often don't even break for lunch, while in other places they go home for the meal mid day. 

Needless to say by the end of our trip we were ready to go home. But on the last leg, a discussion rose in the car. My dad wondered why Americans had a better quality of life than the Irish. I guffawed. I would love to live as a sheep farmer. I would enjoy being self sufficient. I would relish a relaxed environment. I would fancy a trip home from work to eat lunch with my family. I would adore living close to nature. I would savor the higher quality food products. I would love to immerse myself in the culture of another land. And one day I will.

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