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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Day 3: English lessons [20060628|23:20]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Ireland's friendliest inhabitants


The next morning, after a bad night's sleep due to exhaustion and mild sunstroke, we woke when our Slovak friends did, at 7:00 AM. They got ready much more quickly than we did since they were going to work. They asked us for tea since they'd run out, so we gave them our box of jasmine green, which I pictured them consuming with puzzlement and possibly milk. When they returned the box, they also brought us each a cup of tea. Piotr laid them carefully on the floor near our beds. It was adorable. Tom pointed out the boat they were painting to me from the window, kicking Claudine's cup of tea in the process. She wasn't there and I was unsure whether to pay attention to the slight tea spillage or the boat. Before I could stop waffling, Piotr pulled a clean shirt out of his bag and wiped it up while I protested futilely. They trotted jauntily off to work.

Claudine and I conspired to wash Piotr's shirt and left him a note apologizing. We never got to find out whether or not we'd given offense because when we returned in late afternoon, they were gone, back to Kenmare for another job.

Neither of us felt like taking to the bikes again that day to explore the tip of the Beara peninsula. We perused the rural bus routes, from which we learned the buses ran to places we wanted to go on Tuesdays and Fridays only, at times not at all convenient for us. I hit on the idea of calling a taxi to take us to the Dursey Island cable car. From there, we would walk to Allihies, about 25 km away. Perhaps some people wouldn't consider a 25 km walk to be a "restful" day, but if you've spent a number of hours with a bike seat stuffed between your legs, you probably understand.

On arriving at the cable car, we found we were woefully underdressed for the high winds that chilled us through immediately. From my previous experience on the equally treeless Toraigh Island off the northwest coast, I knew we'd be frozen before we walked a mile. We turned around and went straight for Allihies. The skies clouded ominously and sheets of mist swept past when we sat down on the Cliffside to eat our lunch, which involved pita bread, a bit of cheese, a lot of lettuce and most importantly, no mayonnaise or butter. We ambled damply into Allihies at around 3 PM and went to the only open pub, recommended by our cab driver, for a pint of Murphy's to warm us up. We maybe become a bit loopy. The bartender put on a playlist of 80s hits that got us doing karaoke into our beer glasses to an audience of empty barstools. But hey, we were amused.

The taxi driver, who was one of the most affable Irish people we met and who unsurprisingly turned out not be from Castletownbere but from Dublin, picked us up at 5:00 PM. We ate an early supper and went to the hostel common room to chat with some of the other occupants, including Martino, the Italian guy we met on the first day, and an expressive Lithuanian named Tomas. Martino explained his frustration with having no one to practice English with, since all the other occupants lacked fluency and the locals were very cold with outsiders, when they weren't being openly hostile. We invited them to come to the pub with us to blend the experiences of practicing speaking English with drinking beer, always guaranteed to be a winning combination. Martino brought his enormous Italian-English dictionary along to help him with his vocabulary. He interrupted himself frequently, raising his finger and saying, "Moment," while he looked up a translation. His expressiveness and our responses garnered us a lot of attention, most of it disgusted sideways glances, from the locals in the bar. Though I noticed, I was, fortunately, having too much fun to mind. A U2 song came on the jukebox. Claudine and I commented that it was a cover. We explained what "cover" meant to Martino and Tomas. Martino said (or so I thought), "Ah! But I know this virgin."

"Wha?" I said, saucer eyed. Then, "Oh, you mean version." omniana and I fell over laughing for a while. When we stopped, we taught him to pronounce the two words distinctly.

Tomas picked up on the conversation pretty well and had a wicked sense of humor that he even managed to communicate without fluency. It was particularly entertaining to watch him and Martino interact, since Tomas spoke Lithuanian, Russian and broken English, while Martino spoke Italian and English that was broken in a completely different way. I was pleased to note that by the end of two hours, Martino's listening comprehension showed a marked improvement. omniana was extraordinarily patient with him, because she is Teh Awesome, and he was very grateful.

We returned to the hostel in high spirits after purchasing post-beer snacks. I played some hip-hop from Marco's iPod for Tomas, since he liked it but had never heard reggaeton. Things hit a snag when I attempted to transfer some music to his phone/mp3 player. The iPod promptly died on me, or at least, the interface went blank and refused to wake up again. I tried a number of tactics to engage it, to no avail. The death of the iPod seemed to bring home everyone's exhaustion from the hours of English tutoring, so we all went to bed. That night, having walked off our leg aches, we were able to sleep like babies.
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