There was a stillness as the sun gently warmed my face. I opened my eyes to see the view outside my window. The wonderful view of Ireland. The morning seemed rushed as the early risers made their noise known. I rolled over for a few moments of quiet and thought of my time here. It feels different. I feel distant from the culture based on the label of being a tourist. With that thought I realized my passion for knowing culture in an authentic way. I do not want to see culture through the filter of a tourist, I want to see culture in a deeper way. A way that sees people for who they are and where they have come from.
Our first stop of the day was the Cliffs of Moher. The sky was clear with a slight wind as we walked the edge of the cliff. O’Brians’s tower was the only building along the edge, while the other tourist buildings were built into the side of the mountain. The view was breathtaking. The side of the cliffs were jagged as it reached to the ocean floor. The sky was so clear you could even see islands across the way. After walking the edge, I headed over to the exhibit that talked about the unpredictable weather and the wildlife, but one sign particularly caught my attention. The sign was in tribute to a man who was considered a part of the cliffs. He worked off the land and his passion was the cliffs. People would come from miles around that heard of him, and even would continue to visit long after his death. Many say his presence is still amongst the cliffs. His love and his passion for the cliffs seemed to effect many lives. I walked back outside and played around with a raven that wanted my food before hopping on the bus to go to the Caves of Ailwee.
Before the caves we walked through the birds of prey exhibit. The birds seemed to have quite the personality as the squealed and squaked as we walked by. We had the opportunity to watch an African eagle and a barn owl fly about as their human companions demonstrated their knowledge of the birds. I got to hold the barn owl on my arm for a moment. Apparently they are one of the more aggressive birds of prey, which I could tell by its agitated squaks for food, but it was a beautiful little white owl. I noticed a couple signs while walking through and pondered what people have passion for. One of the signs showed the intention of the exhibition, which was to educate younger generations about wildlife and how they can make the environment better. The exhibition center also is connected to an organization in Nepal that supports saving rare birds. I was reminded how well the world can be connected and how even though the hardships Nepal is currently facing, it has many countries reaching out in support. One of the great aspects of humanity I think is how people react after a trajedy, and even Ireland is reaching out a hand.
After the birds of prey we walked through the Caves of Ailwee. The caves were discovered by accident by a farmer who chased after his dog that ran down into the cave. It since has had archeologists discover it and is now a place for tourists. The tour guide was humorous and lively. His gentle hums filled the silence of the caves as we walked along the path. We emerged back to the surface and headed towards Galway. In Galway we walked along the main shopping street. It was lively with music, laughter, chatter of languages, and the sound of cars. I watched life move in a new way. The mix of tourists, locals, and businesses. I could not help but smile at the chance to just see. I may not get the chance to fully understand, but I do have the chance to just see and be here. I enjoyed some traditional Irish food, which seems to always come with meat and some form of potato. After dinner we headed back to the hostel and enjoyed an evening of laughter, journaling, and tea.
I’m still settling into the idea of being a tourist, but I am enjoying being in a culture that is alive with tradition and culture. A culture that has broken stone houses at the edge of every stretch of land and random castles by the edge of the sea. I’m fascinated by the history and how much is still preserved. Having physical evidence of buildings that show a former way of life opens a way to see stories and to experience history in a new way.
Until the adventures of tomorrow, love you all!