After my adventures in Athens and Santorini with Kelsey and Amanda I flew to Belfast where I was greeted by my parents and cousins. For living practically on the other side of the world, my family is quite close with the Irish cousins. When we were younger the family of 7 (Heather, Joanne, Richard, Ruth and the parents Rosemary and Norman) would come to Chicago and visit for a few weeks, while we toured them around the city. Then in 2002, my immediate family traveled to Europe and of course made a stop in Belfast to see the family. I was quite excited to see the cousins, as I hadn´t seen Heather and Joanne since 2002 as they were working when the rest of the family came to Chicago on the more recent trips. So as you can imagine I was quite excited a year ago when we found out the youngest, Ruth, was engaged…as it meant a trip to N. Ireland!
Once I was reunited with my parents we rented a car, thankfully my dad was brave enough to drive on the other side of the road. We were staying in a cottage just outside of Belfast, which looked out on the classic Irish landscape. We then climbed back into the car and drove to my cousin´s house. After many hugs, we finally settled down to a great BBQ meal, and tried to catch up on past years.
The next day, my parents and I ventured out to Derry, Northern Ireland, about a 2 hour drive from Belfast. We were about half way there when my dad, not used to driving on the other side of the road, slipped off the road and…POP the tire deflated. We then pulled into a nearby gas station, and changed the tire within the hour. This was of course after much teasing and laughing on the part of my Mom and me. When we arrived in Derry, we walked around the city and learned about the present and past conflicts in Northern Ireland. If you don´t already know, Northern Ireland has had several conflicts between the Catholics and Protestants dating back several hundred years and it unfortunately still exists today. Walking around the city, one could see the clear division between the ¨Catholic¨ and ¨Protestant¨ side of towns, which are separated by an ancient wall containing the old city and ¨neutral¨ part of town. This conflict is much more complex than what I presented above; I hope to learn more about the history and possible solutions of this conflict as it is very important in today´s world and to me personally.
Ok back to happy wedding stories. On Saturday, we drove to the church located a few minutes from our hotel which was located right on the ocean and was absolutely gorgeous. After the lovely service, we walked outside to bright sunlight (good luck for the couple, eh?) and drove to the reception. In accordance with the culture, we indulged in an afternoon tea with several sweets, followed by a wonderful meal and more sweets. After the toasts, speeches and meal we then headed for the dance floor. Guess what the first 2 hours of the dance music consisted of? Irish folk music! I learned a few new dances and possibly embarrassed myself a few times as I dosey-doed the incorrect way, or spun around with the wrong dance partner. After the traditional Irish music, the DJ came out and played everything from ¨Build me up Buttercup¨ to Lady Gaga. It was fun time…especially seeing my parents dance! I was sad to say my goodbyes to the cousins as I felt that I had just arrived, but we promised to keep in touch and to hopefully be reunited soon.
Thanks for reading this obnoxiously long blog, but I felt guilty not including everything! I have two days in Coruña before I head off to Andalucía with the other HC kids and our housing director…for which promises to be an amazing trip! Stay tuned for an update!
Also my mom took all the pictures so once she returns to the states I´ll upload them!