Archive for January, 2011

Blarney Castle and kissing the stone!

Friday, January 14th, 2011

We went on a day trip today to the Blarney Castle, only a 20 minute bus ride from Cork.  It was beautiful and the sun was even shining today which is very rare.  It was kind of terrifying climbing up the stairs to get to the Blarney Stone.  I’m sure you all have heard about kissing the Blarney Stone, as had I, but I never realized it is on the top of the castle.  It’s actually on the side of the top of the castle so you have to lay down and slide down of the edge a little to kiss it.    They have someone there that is holding you and also bars for you to grab onto, but still a little intimidating. And we asked the man who was working why it is so special, kind of sad we didn’t already now, apparently it is stone from the Holy Land.  Kissing the stone was not as nerve racking as climbing up to it though.  I think it is still the original stairs of the castle so they are pretty steep and not very wide, and they’re the twisting kind.  They put in a railing but it is just a lot of steep stairs and you are fully aware of how high you are getting.  It was a really nice view once you got up there though.

The view:

And this is me after I kissed the stone: (attractive I know)

And here is the castle:

In other news, our first week of classes was last week and I found out that almost all of my exams are during the last week of class.  Kind of puts a damper on my travel plans with mom and Jenny since that is the week they are coming but we’ll figure it out.

Also had my first two practices with the UCC Womens team.  It is so laid back and the girls have been really nice and welcoming.  We only have practice twice a week, on Monday’s and Wednesday’s and there are only 4 games this semester.  All of the games are also during the week.  It could not have worked out more perfectly because I will still be able to play soccer but it won’t interfere with my traveling at all! I’m so happy it all worked out I was worried I wouldn’t be able to play.

We’re going to Galway tomorrow and staying overnight so I’ll be sure to post about that when I get back.

Peru!…Trujillo and Cajamarca

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I arrived in Trujillo aroun 4pm (should{ve been there at noon according to the guide book…yeah). The guide book warned me that decent cheap hostals are incredibly hard to find in Trujillo…and yeah, try impossible. I went to 5 different places before settling on a place for 40 soles. Now, I{m used to bad, somewhat dirty rooms – but I have my limits. Rooms where I{m afraid to use the bathroom or sleep in the bed…not my style. It needs to be cleaned SOMETIME in the last century. The place I got was pretty nice, other than the manager who proceeded to grill me about where my husband was and making all sorts of remarks about a woman{s place in society…then proceded to tell me how beautiful I was. I was like, go screw yourself.

Then, I went to dinner because I{d been on the bus for lunch. Walking around after dinner (it was all of 5pm), I was not only inundated by car horns and whistles, but some idiot followed me around for 3 minutes blaring a religious CD all about how proper Christian women should behave. That{s when I reached the end of my rope…hence, angry facebook status.

But, I did buy a tour for all day the next day to go to all the archaeological stuff that I wanted to see in the same day – 30 soles. So cheap!

The next day, off on the tour with the other Peruvians. It was really an awesome day. First, we went to Huaca de La Luna and Huaca del Sol. You can{t actually go up to Huaca del Sol because of ongoing excavations, but we got to see AMAZING panoramic views of the pyramid. Besides, Huaca la Lunca was so much better because you actually go inside it. ALso, the excavations are ongoing, so each year tourists can view more and more of the site. The site is actually five pyramids built on top of each other over hundreds of years, so as you go in, you actually get to see several layers of the pyramid. You can only see layers 3, 4, and 5 because to excavate further with the current technology runs the risk of completely destroying the top three layers which archaeologists aren{t currently willing to do.

The pyramid is incredible. You walk in, and immediately see friezes, still perfectly in tact and brightly colored as they were when first painted because they have been preserved by the younger layers of the pyramid (the 5th layer has been mostly destroyed by rain. Now, the pyramid itself is semi-protected from the elements as best as possible.). These friezes are HUGE and incredibly detailed. Also, you get to see the tool marks on the adobe bricks made by the workers who built the pyramids. Furthermore, you get to walk through and see individual rooms of the pyramid. However, the best part is walking to the front of the pyramid.

Walking around to the front of La Luna, I again was shocked to silence by the incredible site in front of me. The outside friezes of the pyramid were intact, and MASSIVE. They covered the entire outside wall of the pyramid, and the ramp leading up to the enterance. There were various frieze patterns representing different things, each in a row on top of one another. Each frieze was a goot 7-8 feet tall, and the entire wall was over 20 meters tall. It was truly incredible, and absolutely made Trujillo worth it.

That afternoon, we went to another Huaca, not as well preserved, but still with various visible friezes. Then, we went to one of the palaces of Chan Chan. Now Chan Chan needs imagination, because it{s almost been completely melted away, but this palace is the best preserved. Now, Chan Chan is an expansive city of adobe, the largest adobe city in the world, and we went to ONE of its palaces. To give you a hint of the scope of chan chan, we spent over an hour walking through the one palace, and saw only about a THIRD of it. Also, when driving on the road going through chan chan, it takes about 10 minutes to drive through the middle, and that{s just what is left of the city. It. Is. Huge.

Even decaying, the palace was impressive. It is easy to imagine how it used to be a five story building standing over 15 meters high. There are several plazas in the palace, each incredibly huge, meant to hold thousands of people for religious services. Walking through the palace is like walking through a labrynth, without a guide I would have been completely lost. The palace includes several plazas, burial chambers, expansive trade chambers, and its own beautiful lake to provide ceremonial water to the inhabitants, not to mention much more. It was so freaking cool.

After that, I decided to move on to the sierra the next day, I{d basically seen what I wanted to see, and the treatment I{d been receiving from citizens along the coast was sending me to the end of my rope, and I was nearly prepared to just pack up and go back to Ecuador where people aren{t so predatory ALL THE TIME.

Next morning, hoped on a bus to Cajamarca, going right back to the mountains I vastly prefer. Again, the bus ride was over an hour longer than the book said, but I suspected that. Best part though was right across the street was a bus company going to Chachapoyas, the next place I wanted to go. The guide book said there were no buses there, and I would have to go eight-ten hours to chiclayo, then 12-14 hours back to Chachapoyas to get there and I was considering skipping it, but there were tickets going there directly. So, I settled for the 11-12 hour bus ride (during the day) to get there. The book says the ride{s supposed to be stunning, hopefully It is and will keep me occupied, or 11 hours on a bus may drive me completely out of my mind.

Then, got a hotel and a tour the next day to Cumbe Mayo.

So, I as I went off to my tour of Cumbe Mayo (an amazing rock forrest and over 1,000 year-old aquaduct system with petroglyphs and religious caves), I went into my purse to get my camera to take a panoramic picture of the city and realized that I had left my camera in my hostal room. I feel like SUCH an idiot. I went somewhere INCREDIBLE – and have no pictures to show people how awe-inspiring it is. I´m still pissed at myself.

So, anyway, got there and we were surrounded on all sides by the Cumbe Mayo, which are these incredible rock-faces that just come-out of the fields and stand over 20-30 meters in the air. They´re incredible. Then, we walked to the Sanctuary of Cumbe Mayo (the poor people from the coast on vacation were suffering horribly from the altitude). It´s really cool because there is a cave that is completely filled with all sorts of petroglyphs representing all sorts of mysterious things. They believe that they are to worrship the god of water. There is then a path THROUGH the stone sanctuary used for myseterious religious services. The path itself was a little trecherous. You start by climbing up steep rocks and into the cave through a rock-path that is only about a foot or so wide, and that is as tall as the rest of the rockface. So, not only do you have to watch your step while climbing up steep and slippery rocks, but you have to do it sideways and squeezing. Then, as you enter the rock-sanctuary, you are plunged into complete darkness. No head-lamps, no nothing – they take you on the path the same way their ancestors did – in the dark. Of course, you´re still climbing and walking through an incredibly confined space, now with no way to see in front of you. It was an awesome experience – but the poor little girl several people in front of me got so scared she started crying.

Coming through, you are immersed in light, and come out into an absolutely stunning view of the Peruvian countryside, littered with these incredible rock forests. Unfortunately, the worst part of the tour is that you see how the local farmers exploit their children. All the children position themselves in various parts of the two-hour long trail to beg for money. Additionally, the parents have the children pose for pictures with various animals, traditional clothing, and farm equipment to charge people to take photographs. It´s just very sad that the locals have to use their children to try and get a few extra soles from tourists.

The rest of the tour is stunning, you get to walk through the rock-forests, climb the enormous boulders, and see the incredible archaeological feat that is ancient aquaducts, using perfect 45% and 90% angles, even within the rocks themselves. Also, there are an incredible number of petroglyphs all over the park, some remarkably preserved.

So pissed about the camera.

So, I spent the rest of the day walking around the city, which I really like. It´s the first city in Peru so far where I´ve actually really liked the city and not just the archaeology. Also, the people are so much different than on the coast – more polite, nicer, less predatory. I went a full 30 minutes in Cajamarca without being hissed or honked at. It´s been an incredible relief – i´m feeling much less like killing someone now that I´m here.

One cool thing, though, I went to the Ransom House, which is the only Incan building left in Cajamarca. It is the building where the Incan Emperor Athaualpa was held hostage while his people put together the infamous ransom for Francisco Pizarro. Also, I walked in the city´s main square, which is where the Emperor was burned alive at the stake by Pizarro´s men.

Today, I{m just relaxing and sight-seeing in the city. I didn{t want to go on another tour today, and am kind of worn down from all the travelling. Also, I feel far more comfortable in this city, still hissing and declarations and such, but it{s far less bad than along the coast. So, I{m not feeling the need to immediately escape the city. So, I{m just going to enjoy it here till tomorrow morning.

11 hours. On a bus. Im kind of dreading it already….I may just lose my mind.

Hope you{re all well!

So, advice on Peru.

1) It´s far more expensive than Ecuador, plan accordingly.

2) Patience with the buses. They´re nice, really nice with VAST amounts of leg room in comparison to Ecuadorian long-distance buses. But, times in the guide book should be elongated for about 1-2 hours, don´t be surprised.

3) Bathrooms – this is important. In Ecuador, typically you always have toilet paper (or, they sell it to you. Also, except along the southern coast.) and the toilet flushes. Don´t expect that in Peru. At all. The typical toilet has no paper or anything available, ALWAYS bring tissues with you. Also, the toilet most likely will not flush. There is either a bucket of water sitting outside for you to pour in to flush manually, or the attendants hand you a bucket of water to use. You´ve been warned.

4) Machismo. Ladies, it is so much worse in Peru than in Ecuador. It´s incredibly awful. Although, I´ve been told that it´s the worst along the northern coast, so I may have a skewed perspective. But, after a few days I was about ready to either abandon ship and head back to Ecuador or cut out the next sexist asshole´s toungue. Be prepared. The sierra is shapping up must better, though.

5) Taxis, et all. The vast majority of people seem to work for the sole purpose of getting a commission somewhere. Keep that in mind at all times.Don´t trust them. Have a hotel in mind when you get it in. As in the rest of Latin America, ask a price BEFORE getting in. Also, be prepared for ENDLESS numbers of taxis honking at you. They seem to think that just because you are walking down the street, you need a taxi (even if you´re walking in the opposite direction of traffic). It gets pretty bad, I had about 20 or so taxis honking at me every minute for days. Tour agencies are the same way. It can send you to your wits end. The number of people trying to get something from you is ENDLESS.

But, the sites are stunning.

6) Mototaxis. These are fabulous, they{re so much fun. Basically, a motorcycle attached to a little pull-along covered seat in the back. They{re cheap, friendly, and you get to ride along amused while bouncing around in the back seat. It{s great.

Last Semester (Until Law School)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

I’m going to start with a story about my day. The reason for this is because it will indicate the kind of mood I’m in which in turn will indicate how the rest of the entry will go. It’s like a warning I suppose. So here’s the story about my day.
It started with my alarm not going off. As I have mentioned numerous times (depending on where you’re reading this) I am taking 20 credits this semester so the amount of time I have for anything (especially work) is limited to say the least.* So my plan for this morning was to wake up at 8:30am do morning stuff and be in the band room to set up by 10am. I woke up at 10:13. I have a class at 11am and then band immediately after, so waking up at 10:13am meant that band setup was out of the question. A real breakfast was also out of the question unfortunately. And lunch. So after music history (which ended at 3:15ish) I said hello to the library vending machine and settled in for a so-so afternoon. And discovered that the soda I had managed to get in between band and music history was leaking in my bag. Nothing important was damaged but my bag was wet and my soda was a lost cause. Thankfully I had a book and my Zune so the day that had gone all wrong ended up not so bad.
The first day of classes went much smoother. I woke up on time and I got to eat lunch. My swim class** is going to be way relaxed which is exactly what I was looking for. Oceanography is going to be a bit more intense than I was expecting, but Tibert seems pumped which will hopefully get me pumped. Intro to Theatre*** is going to be amazing and instead of writing about the Kinks I’ll be writing about copyright, because that’s just how I roll (and Fickett actually kind of approved that topic.) Monday/Wednesday/Fridays aren’t going to be so bad I think, though I’m currently really biased against Tuesday/Thursdays.
Final topic I want to talk about (and kinda sorta have to): Digital Storytelling. I will admit after today’s experiences I’m kind of ambivalent about this class. It seems a lot more intense (which is a word I need to stop using now) than I was expecting, but then again what we’re going to be doing in this class is what I’m passionate about (from a law perspective in any event) and so part of me really doesn’t want to leave this class. And of course there’s the fact that anything I can get into is either going to be a) something I really don’t want to take or b) equally time consuming. So the real question is whether to take the class pass/fail which has its own set of questions. In any event here’s the big news: I have a domain name. It was really easy and really quick. Now I just need to get a webserver/host/thing and set up the blog aspect and I’ll have myself a for real website. Which, as I sarcastically said to Mr. Groom tonight, is another thing I get to manage online. Yay.

*I require a certain amount of downtime/sleep time during my day, so while I could probably fit in more if I woke up at say 7am, I’m just not that kind of person, so why kid myself.
**I noticed that swimming met at the same time as weight training so I switched to the method of exercise I prefer. Sorry weight lifters.
***The only art history class I could fit in my schedule closed so I decided to not try and get into a closed class and take an equally interesting class that was open. I get to see “An Ideal Husband” so it all works out really.

Our first adventure around Ireland – Killarney

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Leigh and I decided to take a day trip to Killarney, it was about an hour and a half ride.  We got there around noon and found the tourist office.  There are two castles in Killarney, one that was over 3 miles away and one that was about a mile away.  So we decided to just walk to the one that was closer.  It was a bit of a change of pace form Cork City, which has people milling around at all times and it never really gets quiet.  On our walk to the castle, Ross Castle to be specific, we were the only people on the road for the entire 10 minute walk and it was completely quiet.  This castle was on a lake so as we were getting closer to it the wind started to pick up and then there was a hail storm…literally out of nowhere.  Nice little white pieces of hail.  I learned that my blue coat does not have a hood, in spite of the face that I was almost 100 percent sure that it did.  Anyways so we freaked out for a little bit, then just accepted it, it lasted for maybe 5 minutes or so. Then it was over.  My hair was down when this happened so needless to say i looked really good afterwards.  Then we got to the castle and it was right on the water and it was very windy.  We wandered up and around the castle and took some pictures. (The wind was a lot less severe up there)

And this is the actual castle:

There were some trails around the castle but we agreed that they pretty much just looked like  woods so we headed back to the city.  We found a bar/restaurant in town that had yummy yummy sandwiches, we were starving at this point, and then we went to the bus station and caught the 3:30 bus back to cork.  I think it was a successful first adventure to another town in Ireland. We also got to see the suburbs of Ireland, which I had never really seen before.  Here is a little shot of them:

So that about sums up our trip to Killarney.  We just finalized a lot of travel plans with out two closest friends here, we are probably going to Galway next weekend and Edinburgh the weekend after that.  After mapping out our entire 5 months here, it is surprising how many of our weekends are already accounted for.  We pretty much have all of our weekends planned out until May which is really weird and makes it seem like it is going to go by so fast! But in a good way.

Peru!: Border Crossing and Chiclayo

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Guayaquil was interesting. I took my first night bus…which I was terrified of (too many horror stories). But..8 hours in bus should be done when trying to sleep, else thirst and pee becomes an issue.

So, standing at the bus station at 9:30pm, when two men walk up and i ask myself “why the hell are two men riding to Guayaquil dressed like Jedis??”.

Turns out…two monks, ala Friar Tuck. Complete with brown robes, wood crosses, barefoot, and hair shaved into a halo. They{d just walked up in a warmer cloak, hood pulled over their head, head bowed, hands clasped infront so that you couldn{t see them under the sleeves. No joke – Jedi. I did not think monks still dressed like that. It was so hard not to stare. Even better – they sat right next to me. Even better, both in front and behind me were families with young children. Talk about a nice cusion of security. There was NO ONE going to disturb me with two monks and a bunch of moms and kids, ha! So…not so bad my night trip. Didn{t sleep much, but still.

Arrived 5:30 am. WHich, considering Guayaquil is the most dangerous city in Ecuador and it was still dark out, I found myself a nice seat in the deluxe bus station (more of an airport and mall) until 7:30 when it was safer to be running around. Unfortunately, I didn{t do much that day between the exhaustion and the pain of the blisters on my feet. To top my day off, my desert at the end of the day was moldy. I was so pissed.

Next day, I managed the Malecon 2000 (massive boardwalk), Barrio las Piñas, and the Cementary. Las Piñas is a really cool place. It{s a historical neighborhood, on top of which is the fort from which Guayaquil used to defend itself from Pirates. The barrio goes along up a 444 flight of stairs – which is not easy with blisters, heat, humidity, and a scorching sun, i must say. All along are these beautiful antique buildings, and at the top is the reconstructed fort, with cannons and a light house (didn{t go up it. Took one look at the 70 more steps and was like…yeah, no).

Then, cemetary. The guard didn{t want to let me in. He made me promise not to take any pictures, and then collected my censo just to make sure. Unfortunately, all the really cool stuff was inside. It{s basically like the cemetary in Montmartre or New Orleans…only, very ecuadorian. The coolest was the Mauseleum/Shrine to Elloy Alfaro. True to my word, I took no pictures while inside the cemetary. So, of course the moment I was outside the gate and had my censo back, I took many (which turned out pretty well). So, tired, sore, I went back to my hostal for the evening.

Thus begins my Whirlwind Peruvian adventure…

Decided to take the easy, secure way into Peru  – by taking a CIFA bus straight through from Guayaquil to Tumbes, Peru and stops at both border checkpoints (which are several kilometers from the border). No fus, no taxis, no one trying to cheat me.  Only problem? 7 hours in a bus. During the day. No food. No water. No AC. No bathrooms. 85 Degrees…and humid. Basically, awful. They didn´t even put on a silly dubbed movie! I seriously thought I was going to cook inside that oven. Also, there´s not much to look at – Guayaquil to the frontera is basically ALL bannana haciendas, it´s very repetitive.

But, I survived. Border was relatively easy, just a stamp and along your way. The only real hassle (doing it the CIFA way), is all the people trying to get you to buy tours or illegally exchange money. Which, I ignored. THe border itself is rather anticlimatic – it´s a tiny little bridge over a dry, concrete water. On both sides, city. The only reason you know you´ve stepped into a different country is the sign saying “welcome to peru”.

So, on to Tumbes. Stepping off the bus in Tumbes, you are immediately overcome by everyone and their uncle trying to sell you something, be it a taxi ride, tour, etc. I immediately had a taxi driver come up to offer me a ride to another bus to Chiclayo (where I wanted to go). I was like “Sorry dude, don´t do commission scams, cya later, i´ll walk.” He was all “but it´s so dangerous!!!!!” This woman who was sitting next to me nearly fell for the whole “it´s so dangerous” bit, but I was like “Listen, he works for a commission. He´s cornering and scamming you. Look at the street, it´s not all that dangerous. Trust me, walk down a block and find an honest cab driver”. So, we did. I actually rode in one of these cool little motor-taxis, with a cab in the back. So much fun.

So, found a bus leaving for Chiclayo (wanted to get all 15 hours of bus travel over with in a single 24hr period, instead of spending two days of daylight in a bus), leaving at 8:30. THen, I proceded to eat my only meal for the next 25 hours (not that I knew…it was so gross). And, got on my night bus. More of the same – hot, sweaty, no movie. Also, this witch in front of me kept leaning back so far she was practically breaking my legs. Also, we got borded by customs police FOUR TIMES in the eight hour bus ride. FOUR TIMES. At least this time, there were no guns involved, but still…little ridiculous. Unfortunately, we arrived in Chiclayo at 4:30 AM, which meant I was at the mercy of sceaming cab drivers )at least I knew it). He kept trying to drive me places that were 100soles or so, and i was like “20 soles! 20 soles!”. He was like, “no hay! No hay! Solo a lo menos 50soles!.” I was like, BS, i know there are places cheaper, I was so pissed off at hischeating ass. Eventually, i walked out of the cab, and was like, saw a place back there. Then, I walked away with him screaming at me about how dangerous it was (which…yeah. But after 20 mins of his crap, I´d had enough. I wont knowingly be led along. Besides, there was absolutely NO ONE on the street, and would I really be backpacking through Ecuador and Peru ALONE if I weren{t a little nuts?). I had to settle for 35soles, which..yeah. But, i needed sleep and i wasn´t about to go wandering around alone in Peru at 5am..not that stupid.

Next morning, woke up, showered (HOT WATER!!), and went to see if 1) there was a tour to a ruin because getting to an out of the way ruin alone is frightening; and 2) find a new hotel. Found the tour office first. They{re all “oh, yeah! Tour of the day leaving in 15 minutes to the Pyramids of Sipan, the Temple Museum, and the Brunning Museum! Gets back at 6! 40 soles only for all day!” Which, although I only wanted to go to the first two, 40 soles for a full-day tour is not so bad, and it was with a group in spanish. So, left my bags in the tour office (a respectible one, found in the guide-book. My stuff was fin), changed some money, skipped breakfast, and was driven out to meet the rest of the group.

It ended up being this large group of Hispanics – all Argentinean, Peruvian, and Bolivian. Which was great. They were so funny amongst themselves, and many took me under because they were so fascinated by my cajones at travelling alone through Peru. I laughed so much with them. At first though, I was in a car with only three other Peruvians, two women and a little girl – with some of the most irritating voices I have ever heard in my life (this may be added to the fact that I hadn{t eaten in almost 15 hours…). I was about ready to strangle them.

Well, we started out in the site museum (entrances were extra) of Sipan (a major Pyramid structure in Peru – think Indiana Jones levels of awesomeness. Tomb robbers, amazing unexpected discoveries, an entire economy dependent on tourism, continuing excavations…). Whereby, in the museum, some silly child dropped her hat down into an exhibit a meter and a half down. At which point, idiot parent decides not to take the reasonable options of telling the tour guide or telling a museum employee, but instead decides to climb down into the exhibit to get said hat. Predictably, this ended badly – with about $250 soles worth of damaged glass and exhibit. Idiot.

Then…PYRAMIDS. These are some of the richest tombs ever found in Peru. We got to look down into the old excavations and the current excavations. Unfortunately, we only got to see the smaller pyramid. The two bigger pyramids are currently under excavation and can{t be walked on. A really cool thing about these pyramids, is that they{re adobe. With thousands of years of changing climate, the pyramids have deteriorated and now look like mountains. Unless you know that they{re Huacas (pyramids), or look exceptionally closely to see the remaining adobe bricks, they look just like the enormous rock formations in the south-west. Which, incidently, is why the tombs are relatively undisturbed, because the Spaniards walked right by them not realizing the treasure trove right next to them. Cool, huh?

So, then we went to lunch – which was at a restaurant far too expensive for me to eat at (each plate was 30 soles…about 15-20 bucks…not gunna happen), so skipped lunch and ate a handful of the popcorn (served like bread). Then, the museum of all the grave goods discovered in the Sipan. AMAZING. OMG, it is impossible to describe how enormous and incredibly intricate the goods were. It was astounding. If only cameras were allowed inside – i mean, really. It was incredible.

However, by the time we finished, the Brunning museum was no longer admitting people. Which worked out for me because the others decided instead to visit the larger pyramid complex at Tucume. Which was the other archaeological site in Chiclayo I wanted to see. So, I got everything I wanted to see over with in a single day…nice. Unfortunately, it closed as we got there, but they let us sneak around to the back (we couldnt{ see the museum). My van decided to see the inside of one tomb, which the other van got to walk around the outside of the other pyramids. I thought seeing the inside was better (I could take pictures of the outside from far away). The inside was stunning. There were incredible carved-out, thousand year old reliefs made out of adobe that still survived. And they were so intact that you could still see the story that they were trying to tell. I was soooo happy. Then, we got in the van, and told more jokes in Spanish all the way back to Chiclayo. It was great.

On a cool personal note – there{s adds EVERYWHERE for Keiko Fuerte 2011….so cool to see history I{ve studied impacting the present (Keiko{s father is Alberto Fujimori, President and Dictator of Peru from 1990-2000, currently in prison for either war crimes or tax evasion…can{t remember. Still…cool).

So, tomorrow I{m off early to Trujillo. I may still get to see Lima, since I{ve saved so much time so far :).

Till next time! Yes, I will write about holidays with dad…eventually. This was just on my mind first :)

Settlin’ in

Friday, January 7th, 2011

We had orientation and a chance to try out some classes this week.  The way they set up classes here is a little different than at home.  19,000 students go to Cork, compared to the 4,000 that go to Mary Wash, yet Cork only offers one section of each class.  Very odd.  So if it conflicts with another class, oh well tough luck.  We finally have our schedules worked out, it was a little hard because we decided to automatically rule out any classes that were held on Monday’s or Friday’s.

I’m taking 5 classes, all held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Another thing that can be quite confusing is that classes that are on 2 separate days, such as Tuesday and Thursday, are also at different times on those days, for example on Tuesday it could be at 1 and on Thursday it could be at 9,  and sometimes in different rooms.  Anyways we finally got it all figured out and my classes are: Irish Folklore, Irish History, Irish Government and Politics, Geography of Ireland before 1960, and Introduction to International Food Policy.  The last one is obviously just a fill in, I was simply looking for a 100 level class that fit into my schedule and sounded easy, so International Food Policy it is.  Not to mention I do love food, so maybe I’ll actually enjoy it.  I’m a little sad no math or computer science classes could fit into my schedule, but my nerdy side will just have to survive a semester without them.

We went out pubbing last night.  It was a big night because something called “little Christmas” was being celebrated.  It’s the last official day of the Christmas holiday here in Ireland and all the women go out to relax and hang out because they have been cooking and cleaning and working really hard for all of the Christmas holiday.  So it’s a day designated for the women to wind down and relax a bit.  We didn’t go any pubs that had a lot of women there, we went to the ones that are mainly populated by students, but those were really crowded also.  I wore black ankle length heels out for the first time, I’d say they are 2 to 3 inches high (so really high for me) and my feet were hurting as soon as we walked out the door.  But luckily we got a taxi to the first pub we went to, it’s called Bailey’s, we stayed there for an hour or so, I was standing still most of the time so I didn’t notice the heels too much.  Bu then we decided to go to another pub, which was a good 5 minute walk and I knew I couldn’t make it the heels.  Of course I had brought my sperrys because it was highly unlikely I would be able to make it through an entire night in heels considering I haven’t worn them since prom.  So I put on my sperrys and the excruciating pains in my feet subsided a bit.  I’m being a bit dramatic, but it was painful.  I was told that after I wear them out for two complete nights I should be used to them at least a little bit, so I am going to persevere and keep on trying to walk in those heels.

We are pretty much done with all of our initial shopping, we just have some little things we would like to get, like an ice tray and a dish towel.  We want to travel somewhere this weekend, probably somewhere else in Ireland via the train. We haven’t decided yet.

One more thing, last night at the pub I was asking this guy about soccer and if he knew of any teams I could join and he was “oh yeah there’s actually an American league here!” And he went on to say that is called the Patriot league (I think) and how it’s competitive and a great league and blah blah blah. And then he says “Oh but it’s only for men.” WHAT?! Way to get my hopes up and then just shoot ‘em down.  And he went on to say that I should just play handball, or frisbee.  Big help he was.

First day exploring Cork!

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

We went into the city today, which is not even a 5 minute walk from our apartment, and got a lot of things we really needed. We started with phones, we got a plan that costs 20 euro a month and has unlimited texting and 15 cents a minute for calling.  We had looked for a grocery store yesterday but couldn’t find one so we asked at the phone store and found out that Dunnes Stores, which looks like your average clothing store form the outside, is actually an awesome has everything that you need store.  So we were very relived and got some gorceries, bedding, towels and other odds and ends that we needed.  The walk back was a little rough considering we each had 5 bags but we managed.

We know a girl from Mary Wash that is here and she lives in a place called the Spires which is very close to UCC so we found the Spires and met Kelly, the girl from Mary Wash, and her roommate Sarah.  We all went to UCC together and looked around the campus and then we took them to the city and showed them around a bit.  We got dinner and then went to a pub that is right across the street from our apartment.  Kelly and I got a Guinness, and I liked it a lot more than I was expecting to, and Leigh and Sarah drank a cider beer called Bulmers.  The pub was completely dead considering it was 7 o’clock on a Monday, so we just hung out and talked, and we are planning on going out to the real pubbing scene tomorrow night!

Orientation tomorrow, where we will pick our classes and I will hopefully create a schedule that consists of me going to class twice a week and never having to think about it on my 5 day weekends.  We will see how that plan works out for me.

This is city centre (Cork city) at night. It is all lit up and beautiful and there are always a good amount of people walking around, I love it already.

This is the quad of UCC. Nice and green! We walked around a little today and ran into 2 other groups of American students doing the same thing. Those Americans, so typical.


Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Leigh and I got to Cork today around 4pm their time.  We had to wander around the city for a awhile and eventually take a taxi to find our apartment.  Turns out we have a 2 bedroom apartment so we each get our own room.  We met a couple other girls that are living in our building and a few girls took the same bus as us from the Dublin airport.  We are going to do a lot of shopping tomorrow and try to acquaint ourselves with the city and all that jazz. We’re living in the city so we are really close to a lot of shops and restaurants and pubs which will be really nice.

I’m gonna bust out my camera tomorrow and try and post some pictures soon!