Thursday, November 01, 2001

A Hot Shower

A Hot Shower

The shower works and it is gloriously hot water. Breakfast here is not traditionally Irish, but toast; cook your own to the shade you prefer, coffee or tea and orange juice. Well, it is not the Ritz, but it doesn’t cost what the Ritz would cost either. There are a number of nationalities in the breakfast room and a dozen languages to listen to. That is another of the pay-offs for being here.

Our 10:00 tour takes off from the central bus station. We are going to Tara and Newgrange. Tara is an area where people lived and worshipped over 5,000 years B.C., before the pyramids were built. There are concentric circle mounds of earth and no one really knows why or who the people were that used it. The area is a lush green land of over sixteen acres that has a small church and cemetery on it now. You need to walk through a field in order to reach the circle mounds. On mound has a phallic shaped rock on it that is now named the stone of destiny.

Bru’ na Boinne or the dwelling of the Boyne is the area between the two small towns of Slane and Drogheda. The river Boyne cuts through the area in dramatic loops and bends. This is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of the world. It is the area of Newgrange, Dowth, and Knowth. It was recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, in 1993. Only Newgrange is open to the public. The other two are being excavated still.

Neolithic or New Stone Age farmers, built these sites over 5,000 years ago as a burial tomb. Ritual centers and habitats were centered around these tombs. The Newgrange mound covers over an acre and was constructed using over 200,000 tons of stone and earth. The mound stands at eleven meters high and ranges from seventy-nine to eighty-five meters in diameter. Ninety-seven stones, some with intricate designs, curb the outside wall. The entrance stone is the most beautiful of the carved stones.

The entry passage was constructed using standing stones and is nineteen meters long and is covered by a huge mound. The entry leads directly to a burial chamber, which has a cross shaped plan. The roof is corbelled, like a beehive and is six meters high. This construction has remained intact and waterproof for over 5,000 years.

Three days before, during, and after the winter solstice, for a period of fifteen minutes, the sun will start to shine through a small opening above the door of the passage until it creeps completely into the burial chamber in the early morning, shedding light into it. Otherwise, it is pitch black.

The site is incredible to behold and it is beyond belief that it could have been created more than once. The theory is that people of high status were cremated and their ashes were put into the burial chamber as a sign of keeping the ancestors close by. There are intricately carved stones inside the chambers, but it is not know whether this is a language or if it is religious symbols.

We had a snack at the visitor center and I could actually taste it, mildly, but I could. I was so excited, but did not want to get too hyped in case this was a fluke. Later in the evening, we went to a Persian restaurant for dinner and I could actually taste the chicken and yogurt, but the Coca-Cola was still tasteless. Maybe progress is on the way.

When we returned, we walked downtown and went to one of Dublin’s primary department stores, Clary’s. There is nothing different from one department store to another regardless of where you are in the world, except China. They all look alike and are laid out similar. The Christmas decorations were up and they did not go overboard. It is barely noticeable.

I need to report that when we went to the Internet café, my former work friend Marty had done some research for me and found an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor at Yale University that specializes in taste buds. Marty was able to get her e-mail address for me, so as soon as I can write up a medical report of what has been happening and the meds I have been taking, I will e-mail her and see what she has to say. Thank you Marty!!

Dublin is an easy walking city. Everything is fairly close for the most part. It is a crowded city. The streets are mobbed most of the time and there seem to be as large a crowd at night as there is during the daytime. I don’t think the Irish are as friendly as the Scots or the Welsh. The Irish don’t move as they are walking down the street. If you or they bump, there is no apology like there was in the other countries. They don’t hold doors open for you as often and many of the service people look unhappy with their work. There are exceptions, but I don’t feel as welcomed here as we have in the other cities.

Allow me the time for me to jump into one of my little tirades. I am overdue. The topic is cell phones. In my opinion, modern technology is ruining our social awareness and interest in our fellow human beings. Ron and I both had cell phones in the States. It is not the cell phone or electronic leash as I call them that I am against. It is the manners of the people using them. If I had an euro for every time we have seen someone driving while talking away on the cell phone, we could both retire. That is not that unusual, though it is dangerous. There have been too many near misses because you can’t do both with full attention. The issue that really annoys me is when people are using their cell phones for long personal conversations in restaurants, buses, trains, movies, and the list goes on. If that person is so important to the talker, why aren’t they there with you or you with them? Why aren’t your spending your private time talking to them? Why do you have to shout into your cell phone because they can’t hear you and disturb everyone around you? What is most maddening is when you are on a bus or train and starting to take that little snooze and you hear fifteen varieties of poorly reconstructed songs playing on different cell phones. Then the called needs to yell out where they are, when they will be there and so on and so forth. Before cell phones, did anyone die wondering if you were on the bus yet?

On one train we took, this lady called someone at every stop to give them a progress report of how late the train was leaving each stop. I am sure the person called would have rather the peace and quiet of sitting in the station waiting rather than have to answer the phone every eight minutes. Some trains have no cell phone cars. This also includes no radios, no pagers, or other noise making devices.

The last most inconsiderate use of a cell phone is to be walking down a street and have a dozen people plough into you because they were dialing a number rather than looking at where they were going. Some I have noticed are not talking at all, but are playing video games on their cell phones instead, making a longer series of peeps, beeps, and other annoying sounds. What happened to conversation with those around you? What happened to respecting your fellow person by not creating unnecessary distractions in public places? How about not making others think you are a lunatic or a mugger, when at night you are walking behind someone and start talking on your cell phone. Every time that happens, I tense up thinking we are about to be mugged. Paranoia leftover from Chile, but it is still a possibility. The worst was when I was still teaching, I had a student once that not only answered her cell phone in the classroom, but also carried on a conversation. Thanks, I needed to get that off of my chest.

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