Sitting Pretty

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At the Octagon in Westport.

Because I’ve got free accommodation (in exchange for work), and Westport is a sleepy town (except on weekends when it gets drunker than Las Vegas), I’ve been pretty stationary the past month. It’s been nice to spend less money and chill out a bit because I have a lot of plane, train, and bus rides coming up the next month. I start small next week when I’ll head just south to Galway but I’ve got a busy itinerary for the rest of May and June, and I’m still hammering out details for parts of it. To be honest, it’s stressing me out a little.

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Ice Cream, Sunny Days, and Bike Rides

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Despite having only been here for two weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten to know Westport pretty well already. It’s a small but lively town. People are friendly. Nathalie and I made the mistake of looking out our window one evening when a group of girls passed by enjoying ice cream cones (why couldn’t they have been enjoying bunches of carrots?) so we ran down the street to get some for ourselves. A very sweet older gentleman stopped us on the walk back to the hostel just to ask if it was as delicious as it looked and bid us a good night. I fear that at home, this interaction could have erred on the side of creepy. Here, it was nothing but pleasant.

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All is well in Westport

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Friday evening crowd at McGing’s pub in Westport.

I’ve been in Westport for a week now, working in the hostel in the old mill some of the time but mostly playing. I’ve delved into the local pub scene and discovered great local beers aside from Guinness which I still do not like (I’m sorry, Ireland!), as well as the joys of Irish music on a Wednesday night. The bus strike is still in effect, making regional travel more expensive and challenging. Yesterday, my roommate/fellow volunteer/new friend Nathalie and I rented a car to go out to Achill Island. Nathalie is German and used to driving a manual car, although not on the opposite side of the road. She did a fine job maneuvering around windy country roads. I did an adequate job of not panicking too visibly in the passenger seat.

Achill was stunning and cold.

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Keem Bay.

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Sheep on a stroll.

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Nathalie with the official greeters of Achill Sound.

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Oh yeah, I’m in Ireland. Cheers, lads!

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Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

After slowly traveling through Mexico for two and a half months, the past two weeks have been a bit jarring. I was just in Reykjavik less than a week ago but that feels like a blur and I almost forgot I was even in Montréal. But after four full days in Iceland, I flew to Northern Ireland and landed in Belfast for a couple of days.

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“If you ever get lost in an Icelandic forest, just stand up.”

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At the Gullfoss waterfall.

That’s a joke I’ve heard twice since arriving in Iceland due the country’s relative lack of vegetation. Hey, I’m in Iceland! I’ve been wanting to come here ever since I saw photos on a travel blog years ago and I’m so glad I finally made it happen. It’s pretty far from home and also very expensive which is why I limited my trip to four days, but it’s been worth every krona. Vegetation or no, Iceland has plenty else to offer.

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