Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Marcus Meets Europe! -- Ireland

Dublin Postcard
A postcard from Dublin

It was cool to go to a smaller place this time around. I was feeling a bit knackered, to use an English phrase, of racing from one famous landmark to the next. Dublin was a chance to unwind.

Being an English Creative Writing major, my first stop was the Dublin Writers' Museum. Tiny, only two exhibition rooms. I wondered how so many lions of letters could all come from so small a place. What was the common cause of their genius? Censorship seemed to breed great art, I found. All of the authors had issues with the virtual theocracy they chafed under in Dublin and vented their anger in their literary works. James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, two of Dublin's native sons, practically lived in exile and rarely visited their home town.

Having my fill of culture, I went in search of some mental junk food. I had seen some unusual films in Paris. One was a beautiful life story of a monk called Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall, Spring from a South Korean director who had studied fine arts in Paris. The other was Agents Secrets, a French spy thriller that I couldn't understand. I could understand individual scenes, like she's drugged the kids to search the house and he attacked the guy in the bathroom to steal his identity. But I totally missed the overall story. Now that I was in an English-speaking country, I was hoping for a Hollywood blockbuster. Unfortunately I got lost in Temple Bar and found the Irish Film Institute. I made the most of it and went for what looked like the most suspenseful movie they had, a documentary from Brazil called Bus 174. I've only started to become a fan of documentaries, after watching The Thin Blue Line and Bowling for Columbine. Bus 174 completed my conversion to the medium. It records the case of a bus hijacking that rocked the headlines in Rio de Janeiro. The film went much further, telling of the circumstances of the hijacker's life, interviewing the police officers and hostages, ultimately indicting the brutal prison system and police incompetence in handling the hijacking. Then it returns to the bus for the most nail-biting climax I've seen in a long time. In terms of emotional punch, Bus 174 has Speed beat hands down.

One of the good things of getting lost is stumbling onto great places I would never have found otherwise. I was wandering around Temple Bar when I smelled food. Good food. I followed my nose and went to Meeting House Square. It was like a gourmet open market. Booths sold top-quality cheese, meat, and other delights for the taste buds. I got a sausage dog from Hick and Sons Handmade Gourmet Pork Products. The sausage was lightly spiced and tender. Later, I was looking at a selection of desserts. The old Latina woman asked what I wanted. I said the chocolate desserts looked good, but I wanted something different. She recommended a slice of her 3-Leche Nicaraguan cake. It had condensed milk, evaporated milk, and regular milk. She watched closely when I took the first bite. Whoa. Much more subtle and flavorful than the usual sugar rush I go for. I said Mmm. She laughed and said "I knew it!"

Me guy from Australia guy from Scotland
On a pub crawl in Dublin with a guy from Australia and Scotland

I wanted to go to some Irish pubs, but I didn't want to go by myself. Good thing someone invented pub crawls. The Backpackers' Pub Crawl was 5 euros and met at the front gate to Trinity College. We went to five pubs and two dance clubs, don't quote me though. The memory of that night gets foggy. I do remember meeting three Australian guys. There was also this older German lady who wore pink everything: jacket, skirt, stockings, the works. The second pub we went to was the smallest pub in Dublin. That was its claim to fame. One of the Australian guys said, "Marcus, I think the German bird fancies you." What German bird? I turned and saw the pink lady, who smiled at me. I hastily turned away and shuddered. Do not get drunk do not get drunk. Meanwhile, the Australian guys laughed at me. I was pretty quiet for most of the pub crawl, so no one expected a lot from me. When we got to the last dance club, I unleashed the wild beast I keep caged inside. A girl from New Zealand leaned to my ear. She said I looked like a good dancer. I thanked her. As we left the club, the Australian guys and one Scottish guy congratulated me. That was at the end of the pub crawl, though. I think they were amazed at how much coordination I had left, not my dancing skill.