Sorry it took me so long to write, in a land of plenty. But I have been as busy as a mad hatter here in Dublin County. You see, my office is actually in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Done Leery). How they get an e sound out of aoghai, I am not sure—but it happens often here in Ireland. My colleagues, as you can imagine are mainly Irish. A few British and a few Aussies, but mainly Irish. I have been teaching them English, and they have been doing me the same favor. We’ve decided as you move further across the Atlantic, English gets more and more out of whack. A few vocab words for you—many of you might know, but I am a GB virgin, so be patient:
WAG (wives and girlfriends): Famous Soccer players’ significant others; they are treated like royalty here. Entire trashy gossip magazines are devoted to them
Head: tough guy you don’t mess with (strictly Irish)
Stone: 14 pounds. For example if you weigh 140 pounds you would say you weigh 10 stones.
Snog: kiss—I do not like this one.
Track pants: jogging pants or warm-ups
Okay that is all I can think of at the moment, and my time on this computer is short—so I want to get down to the rest of the message. My thoughts on Dublin followed by an update on my life in Ethiopia. Not to disappoint or offend anyone, but Ireland looks a lot like other places I have been. To be honest, the homes remind me of a cross between New England style homes and Southern California homes. What I mean is two story brick homes with closed in porches and fancy little gates, but most of the front yards are paved in for cars and the back yards extend back (to a beach if you are lucky) like Cali. There are also trees that look like palm trees, just shorter. I know, a random description—but it’s what I got. I have done a lot of walking here. Most people use public transit and exercise is HUGE!! Everything except for a few random pubs closes at 5 and people go home. The then go on walking, running, jogging, biking, skating, footballing with the family and friends. I haven’t’ really seen any obese people—so happy to see the American influence hasn’t totally taken over here. Though, it’s disturbing that as an American, you can never get away from your country 100%. Not that I’m trying to run or anything, it’s just that the American influence is so wide, so deep it touches everything. Products, brand names, fashions, trends, restaurants, etc—all American influenced. You don’t really get to see the uniqueness of a country anymore unless it’s not really developed. Which usually means you have to go to rural areas, as most capitol cities these days are ‘westernized’ thanks to hundreds of expats living there, like me. We work at embassies, NGO, international organizations, businesses, etc. When we come, money comes, and American/EU brands follow. So, before I even get to Addis I can assure you it will look, taste, and smell like most other capitol cities—with it’s own personal flair of course and historic buildings, but—everything else I am used to. For good or for bad, it’s the reality of the world currently.
Sorry, off on a tangent—anyway, back to my life. The plane ride, I didn’t mention was actually quite harrowing. I was dead asleep, (the only true talent I have, being able to sleep anywhere anytime) when without warning the plane began to shake. Not those little bumps that a few people grab their armrests about, but actually knock your out of your seat if you didn’t’ keep your seat belt fastened bumps. Several people screamed and a few overhead bins popped open. It went on for only about 45 seconds, but enough to send quite a few people in a panic. I of course, being exhausted, decided to pretend I was just being rocked to sleep and went back to sleep immediately. I learned the other details from my neighbor later when I awoke.
I am staying in a lovely B&B here. Small, quaint, someone’s home turned into a B&B. The poor woman who runs it, Mrs. O’leary, was very disappointed to learn I was vegetarian. B&B’s in Ireland pride themselves on ther traditional Irish breakfast of eggs and two or three different kinds of meat. I opted for yogurt and muesli. I have lunch at the office then am home for dinner. Unfortunately it’s not a B&B&D, so I have go out for dinner. We are in the ‘burbs’ so it’s quite a hike to find somewhere to eat, but I survive. Tonight, instead of going out to dinner I decided I would go to a grocery store and do a very Euro thing of bread and cheese. I found a lovely little shop with some YUMMY bread and of course Laughing Cow cheese. I continued wondering through the story, curious at what else there was, when I saw it—a Dietitians dream. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in ½ cup containers!!!! It’s true, the actual suggested serving size on the side of the pints is ½ cup, thus the containers feed four. A laughable concept in the US, as when you are sitting there with a pint in front of you, you eat a pint. I am the first to admit; I am capable of eating two or three pints in one sitting. I know disturbing, but true. But here it was the perfect answer, pre measured you are cut off when you reach the bottom ½ cup servings. However, I must tell you the ice cream lover in me groaned. You should see how TINY it is. TINY. It wouldn’t even make a fit ‘kiddie cone’ in my book. Only in Europe, okay only OUTSIDE the US, could a ½ cup size ice cream be marketed with success.
The GOAL office is very simple. A thin (narrow) building with four stories, so you do a lot of stair climbing to see people. It’s right on the sea, gorgeous. Not that I’ve seen much of it as I have been in briefings, trainings, and meetings all day every day. It’s protocol to get a shpiel on security, travel, health, etc before heading out. I also had to go see travel MD. I thought I only needed one more shot, the meningitis one, but turns out I needed two others as well. Seems the clinic I went to in the US missed the fact that I needed a Typhoid and Rabies booster. I also got the strength my Hep B vaccine tested. Nifty. But, my arms are killing me.
Today (it is early morning as I send this) is the first time I will have down time to get out and see Dublin. The Ryder Cup is here so it’s CRAZY busy. Unfortunately for them, it’s been rainy and chilly. I am FREEZING, but here this is ‘summer’ weather. When I left Maryland it was high of 85 or so, here the high is 60 if we are lucky. I am adjusted, but the first two days my body wasn’t sure what was going on. I officially have my plane ticket and pick up my Ethiopian Visa later today. You will NOT believe my flight schedule!! I leave Dulin at 5:45 am. I have to be at the airport 2 hours early and it takes 45 minutes to get there!!! That means I have to leave my B&B at 3:00am at the latest!! Can you believe it? I fly to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Addis Ababa. I get into Addis around 9:00pm their time. Not sure how many hours my flight is yet, but I am sure I’ll have some stories for you about it!
I need to run—and see Dublin while I can. I’ll put up pictures when I can. Not sure when that will be, so be patient. I’ve learned a lot more about GOAL as I’ve been here, and the more I learn the more I impressed. It’s quite famous, somewhat like Save the Children in the US, here in Ireland, UK, and Austrailia. The guy who started it and still heads it was a famous sports journalist when he quit that and start humanitarian work. Hence our ‘sports’ them. Most of the ‘patrons’ or famous spokes people we have are famous Footballers, tennis players, track stars, etc from around here. One famous patron and big fan of Goal you may all know is Bono. John O’Shea (the CEO) is quite outspoken around here and has a rep for ‘being over the top.’ However, he won entrepreneur of the year award, and when he accepted he challenged the other entrepreneurs in the room to come and see where he works. Three famous Irish business men did, and they did a documentary about what happened, what they saw, how they were changed, and what business they each started in their prospective countries. They all agreed they no longer John was over the top after they saw what he sees every day.
Okay—really, got to go. Thanks a million to you all for being great friends, family, and support for me.