Well, my post about my last archaeology field trip (two weeks ago now... oops) is going to have to be postponed again, because I am currently sitting in a hostel in Killarney trying to decide if I want to venture out tonight or wait until tomorrow and risk rain.
I'm traveling alone again, which is a little sad, but I'm over it. When I first got here I was surprised to find it was lonelier than Dublin; I don't know if that's because I'm used to having people around now and feel like I should have been able to find someone to come with me, or if it's just that the hustle and bustle of Dublin was too distracting to bother with being lonely. Either way, after I wandered around town for a bit, and looked around a few shops that were still open, and started realizing how much there is to do here that can't possibly be done in less than three days, I remembered that I'm perfectly capable of entertaining myself, and if I'm alone then I can do exactly what I want exactly when I want without having to worry about what if someone else wants to do something I'm not interested in or has no interest in what I really want to do. Plus, I am more confident on my own here than I was a month and a half ago in the big city. Ireland is not strange anymore, and although Killarney, specifically, is strange, it is small. If Dublin is Philadelphia, and Cork is Allentown (because we're talking about size here, not likelihood of being mugged or shot), Killarney is not even Bethlehem. Not even Easton. (Still bigger than Oberlin, though.)
I am in a very cheap hostel, which is not as nice as the one my class stayed in in Slane but still several times nicer than the one in Dublin. (Conclusion: I am staying somewhere new when I go back to Dublin.) There are wooden bunkbeds and one metal twin bed (mine! ha!) in my room, not as cute as the ones in Slane, but arranged in a rough circle in a normally-proportioned, brightly-lit room, as opposed to the weirdly long narrow room at Abbey Court with beds end-to-end along the sides. No lockers. But because I am a genius (and because I had to buy extra padlocks for the locker fail in Dublin), I have padlocked the zippers of my backpack and then padlocked the whole thing to the underside of my bedsprings.
Probably unnecessary anyway, because there are only two other women in my room, and neither of them seem to be concerned about leaving their things unattended. But I was still proud of my ingenuity, and plus I brought my laptop and am taking no chances. [insert rant about how if my Dell Mini hadn't decided to go into a kernel panic the night before I left home, then I could carry my computer in my purse everywhere I go and never have to worry about it].
I also brought a kind of an absurd bag of snacks with me, partly to make sure things in my kitchen that might not last the weekend get eaten and partly to avoid buying a meal or two while I'm here. Someday I swear I will learn that bananas don't travel well.
Killarney, from what I saw on my walk this evening, is extremely touristy. I knew before I got here that it's one of the biggest tourist hotspots, but that knowledge didn't fully prepare me. But it's still cute, and there's a huge assortment of pubs, most of which seem to have live music on weekends.
Tomorrow I am going on a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry, which allegedly has the best scenery in Ireland. We'll see how I think it compares to the Burren. Then on Sunday I'm going on another bus tour out along the Dingle Peninsula (which is a Gaeltacht) to the westernmost point in Ireland. It's supposed to be gorgeous as well. Monday morning before I head back to Cork, I may or may not go horseback riding in Killarney National Park. If not, I might still go to the park and hike for a bit if the weather's nice. So all in all, a busy weekend with numerous outdoorsy opportunities. That's why I decided to come now, to adventure before autumn gets too carried away with itself and is cold and rainy more often than not. And because I only have Mondays free from classes until the end of October.
In other news, I had my first music lessons this week. Tin whistle went well, and even after just an hour of observing up close someone who knows what she's doing and receiving a couple of instructions, I feel like some of what I never managed to teach myself has magically fallen into place. Things I couldn't figure out on my own make perfect sense now. I'm excited for the rest of the semester. Bodhrán went less well. Not that it went badly, it was just more unfamiliar. Even if I'd never held a tin whistle before, I'd have the advantage of being a woodwind player. I really had never held a bodhrán, and there I have no advantage whatsoever. I am small and it is awkward, and I am uncoordinated and it is extremely physical, and my ability to keep a steady beat is about as close as I come to having any percussion skills. But the teacher is very friendly and talkative and I like him a lot. I share my lesson time with just one other person, also American, but he is a shy, unnaturally tall drummer who laughed (not in a mean way, just an entertained way) at the idea of a petite clarinetist randomly choosing bodhrán lessons. I didn't mention my harp dilemma and the fact that my mind was ultimately made for me because the class was full. But now that I'm thinking about it, I think it's kind of great that my choice was between the two traditional instruments that are arguably the most masculine and the most feminine respectively.