Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Come What May: One Cancelled Bus, 3-hr Layover, and Flash Flood Later

The blisters on my feet, caused by a fair amount of walking around Belfast last Friday in a pair of brilliant blue suede shoes, have healed. Thus marks the passage of another weekend. Sadly, only two remain before we all head to our respective American homes.

But for the next couple weeks, our lives are still very much here, in Belfast. We wake up each morning, some of us sit down for breakfast in the cafĂ© (while others grab an apple, if they’re lucky), and we catch different buses to our places of work. At work, we complete tasks, but we also converse with our employers and coworkers, laugh together, and eat Twisters or hummus & pita. At the end of the day, we return home -- to Farset. Never has a hotel or hostel felt more like home. Drawn to the lobby by the force-field of (potential) Internet connection, we sit for hours sometimes – watching episodes of Californication, the Bachelorette, Glee, or Entourage. Maybe even deciding on and committing to a full-length feature film. We unwind together and talk with those who pass through Farset’s doors. We aren’t just doing DukeEngage program – we are living life.

Eight weeks never seemed an exceptionally long period of time and now only 16 days remain. However, as our wise coordinator Ama pointed out, we still have 30% of our time left and we ought to make the most of it without overscheduling ourselves -- great advice, especially when we all have so many things that we would still love to do. Obviously, we won’t be able to do it all, but that’s no reason to fret! The depth of our experience is not necessarily measured in how many miles we travel from city centre…
This past weekend, there was a moment when our plans to go up the Antrim coast to Giant’s Causeway were all falling apart. We stood in the Great Victoria Street station being told that the 10am bus trip had been cancelled. Poo. Well, let’s take a train! So, we made it to Coleraine and took the Causeway Rambler bus along the beautiful, cliffy coast to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. After walking and then dancing across the less-than-terrifying bridge, we wound our way back to the rest stop. Little did we know that the bus only comes every 3 hours, so we had a good 1.5 left to wait – at first enjoying each other’s company and then becoming slightly irked.
In an attempt to watch the entire US v. Ghana World Cup game (a valiant effort which unfortunately was not rewarded with a favorable outcome), most of the group decided to forgo the Bushmills Distillery and Giant’s Causeway. Though we’ve managed to avoid overly touristy locations, Courtney W. and I really wanted to see the famed hexagonal rock formations at Giant’s Causeway, so we hopped off the bus in good faith that another would return to collect us. Courtney and I came to the came conclusion that Giant’s Causeway can unquestionably be appreciated in less than 30 minutes. We power-walked to a smaller bus, which conveyed us to the site of the rock formations. While we were efficiently staging a photo shoot on the really awesome rocks, buckets of rain were released from the sky flash-flood-style, which made the rocks slippery and the visit quite memorable. As Courtney eloquently stated, it’s not every day that you get to see rocks! Fifteen minutes later we were on our way back to the train station.
You just can’t do everything, no matter where you are - in Northern Ireland, North Carolina, Michigan, Massachussetts, or California. If all you think about while you’re doing one thing is that you have a hundred more to do, are you really gaining much from the experience? During these next couple of weeks, I hope to have the energy to do as much as possible, but also to have the wisdom to discern what is most valuable.

1 comment:

  1. I agree about Giant's Causeway -- most overhyped attraction ever. Too bad you missed Bushmills -- when I was there, all the employees were evacuating because (the incorrect rumor was) one of the stills was on fire... KABOOM!