Friday, January 13, 2012

Walking in Dublin and Buenos Aires

Hello, all! I am safe in Dublin, and none of the students I brought with me are dead or maimed...victory!

My partner, Lee, ran afoul of security before we even left the airport, however. For those of you who have not been to Ireland, signs are generally in Irish with an English translation underneath. Irish is a beautiful language, and its lovely sounds can sometimes be strung together in long, disorienting ribbons that can knock the unwary completely sideways. Poor Lee was so viciously assaulted by the sight of one particular Irish word that he instinctively pulled out his camera and shot it.

Unfortunately, the shy English translation was completely overlooked. It read, "No photography allowed."

Airport security in Dublin is quite thorough, and Lee was forced to delete his photographs right then and there. His explanation, which really only made sense to another scholar--"that's just such an amazing word!"--was, like many scholarly exhortations, dismissed out of hand as the ravings of a madman or an elaborate joke at someone's expense.

You'll be happy to hear that I did not run afoul of security, though I did forget about our coach driver yesterday in my enthusiasm to herd the students to St. Patrick's Cathedral. I just marched them there, leaving Joe, our poor coach driver, waiting for us at the other side of Dublin. We did call the poor man eventually, and he caught up with us, probably the first time he's had to chase down American visitors trying to get them into, rather than out of, a device that would spare them undue exercise.

Ironically, anyone who was with me on a delightful visit to Buenos Aires a few years ago is probably thinking, "What the frak? She hates to walk!" (Okay, only my colleague Dennis is thinking the word "frak" if he's reading this at all, which I doubt.). You see, I was most irritated to be force marched across Buenos Aires, and because I am me, I did not conceal my annoyance. But there is a critical difference between walking in Argentina and walking in Ireland in January: the weather.

I have lived in both very hot climates (Florida, New Orleans) and quite cold ones (Buffalo), and I have developed this philosophy: hot=leisurely stroll, while cold=brisk trot. I believe this strategy is a major reason that I am still alive.

Buenos Aires in January was 150 degrees in the shade, and while I had a lovely, long, 5 mile stroll one afternoon, hiking at breakneck speed for a mile to get to a restaurant was just not on. In Dublin, though, I keep having to slow down for the group, or, in one instance, the coach. When it's cold and wet, a fast walk warms you up even in the freezing rain. Especially when you've lost the umbrella that you bought to replace the umbrella that you lost.

Of course, no one who was with me in Argentina will believe this until Lee gets back to tell them. That's why I'm trying to shelter the poor man from any more brazen Irish words; if he doesn't survive their blandishments, my other colleagues will continue to think of me as a lazy whiner, rather than a meteorologically sound thinker.

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