Lacie Micek- Final Portfolio

Posted on February 1st, 2014 by

Natural Landscape: Take a Closer Look

Flood Foggy Stream Pier puddle Pier ShellRocks  Shrub View

Spirit of Ireland:

Contradictory Characteristics

This huge mound of earth on the Irish landscape is calling me to ascend to the top.  I find a small pathway, but I am not sure how high it will lead me.  Is it too muddy to be walking here with these boots?  As I start to climb the hill, the vine-covered trees capture me, and bring me into a different world.  I feel as though I’ve walked back in time.  History oozes from the damp leaves of the plants that have survived years in this rainy climate.  I reach into my pocket to see if my gloves are dry enough to wear again.  They are not.

The sharp thorn bushes warn walkers on the path to use caution while ascending the water-logged and rocky trail.  The farther I walk, the more rocks my feet struggle to pass over.  Lichens grace the surface of many surfaces.  Their fuzzy and bright appearance contrasts with the smooth stones darkened by moisture. I come across centuries-old stone walls covered in vines with leaves stretching to feel the rare warmth of the sun during an Irish winter.

A sea of rocks covers the top of the hill.  Grassy plants and thorns poke out from the odd crevices in the rock left by years of powerful water flowing down.  Down, down, forming the caves hidden below the surface.  Designs and faces can be seen with puddles in their eyes.  Watch your step.  Some small rocks try to evade the weight of my boot by slipping away.  Don’t fall or you’ll be removing thorns for hours.

All exhaustion felt in my legs from the trek up the path is forgiven after my breath was stolen by the sight of the valley.  Below, productive farmland thrives above a bed of limestone.  Cows graze among the rocks in the lush pasture, surrounded by a stone wall.  Some munch on the grass high up the hill due to the thrurlough flooding their usual hangout.  Donkeys whinny at the sun striving to overcome the fog which looms over the hills, growing more menacing as I progress upwards.  The phenomenon of flora and fauna flourishing on the stony hills of the Burren emphasizes that not everything is as it seems.  A double rainbow brightens the adjacent hill, more vivid than I’ve ever seen.

***

Shop after shop after shop.  I could spend days blowing Euros on gifts for loved ones.  Stepping onto Shop Street feels like stepping back in time to an old market, busy with bustling vendors trying to make a living.  Vintage toys, the original claddagh ring jeweler, and a plethora of wool sweaters allude to the long history of Galway.  Scrumptious pies and bounteous candies boast old charm, but have only made a business for a couple of years.

A medieval city, a harbor for the Vikings, and now a bustling metropolis.  Galway has a small fraction of the population of Minneapolis, but excitement exudes from the streets of this small city.  The lights seen from the cottage on the opposite side of the bay does not do this charming city justice.  Around the corner, a centuries-old church.  Down the street, a medieval building transformed into a bank.  In the mall, a city wall towers over the Burger King, offering an interesting juxtaposition between the middle ages and the modern day.  A peaceful park in the square of the city no longer hosts the execution of criminals, but their skeletons could be buried beneath the popular nightclub.  Pubs constructed with the structures of churches from the dark ages draw large dinner crowds.  The King’s head watches over the contemporary acoustic performance while a young crowd enjoys their Guinness.

The sound of street musicians brings Galway to life.  They enhance the experience of strolling the streets of the historic city, hinting at a simpler life, just doing what you love.  Crowds gather around the man beating a drum and belting out a tune with the most contagious smile I’ve seen all day.  Another man fills Shop Street with the tunes of Irish tradition, making me wonder who else has sung those melodies on these streets in the last few centuries.  A couple blocks down another fellow improvises on his electric guitar, settled next to Oscar Wilde.

***

Pubs are dark, intimate, encouraging conversation.  Friendly faces welcome visitors to their establishment, thankful for business during the off-season.  I am confused by the waiter who thanks me when he clears my table.  Such manners do not exist where I come from.  Gloomy weather coaxes walkers to stop for a glass of whiskey.  Some weary travelers happen to be celebrities, entranced by the ease of conversation with a bartender who will create the image of a shamrock in your Guinness.  After an hour of discussion of our personal stories, a smile reveals a tinge of sadness.  Small villages attacked by the recession, making refugees out of young men and women.

Small eating areas bring people closer.  My apple pie for dinner is made just a few feet from where I sit waiting, taking in the free aromas.  Her busy hands hurry to make our taste buds happy.  Constant distractions pour in the door, and she makes their coffee, knowing most by name.  This is a place where friendships are made.  Many questions are asked and answered.  The stories shared make me thankful for my permanent residence back home.  Just listening to them discuss years of moving back and forth make me dizzy.

Music serves as an outlet for our emotions and connects those who listen to it.  Groups bond by gathering around the live band performing for the night.  Old friends catch up as they meet to play traditional Irish music at the pub.  Laughter attempts to overpower the sound of the accordion.  Good luck finding a seat at that pub, it’s packed.  Down the street, another street performer’s voice echos with the depressing melodies.  He makes listeners’ hearts heavy, but his hat jingles with his earnings for the afternoon.  His hat was so heavy with change that he even graced Shop Street again the next evening.

Urban Landscape: Old and New

ProtectMall WallOld StreetYellow buildingBank Graffiti    Statue vodka cap

Personal Narrative:

Just Call Me GPS

Well, I’ve never been to Europe before.  This will be the farthest I’ve ever been from home.  I don’t really know anyone going on this trip.  I hope our plane doesn’t crash into the ocean.  This could either be the best month of my life or the worst.  Hopefully not the latter.

***

Oh my gosh!  This cottage is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  We have a fireplace?  And it’s lit special for our arrival?  I could get used to this.  I’ve never had a fireplace before.  Where is the kitchen?  These veggies and packs of ham need a refrigerator ASAP.  Holy cow!  We have a sun room!  There’s the kitchen.  I can’t wait to eat breakfast with the sun shining in this is going to be so cool.  Where’s my phone?  In my pocket.  No wifi? Well, we are in the boonies of Ireland.  I really need to talk to my mom though.  Oh well.  She’ll live.  Immerse myself in the culture right? Off to the pub!

***

Yes!  First night and it’s already time to hit the pub!  I hope Logue’s Lodge satisfies my stomach with delicious fish and chips.

“Keep on with the force don’t stop, Don’t stop ’til you get enough.  Keep on with the force don’t stop, Don’t stop ’til you get enough.”

Michael Jackson?

“It’s fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.  It’s fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.”

Dang it.  I’m going to have that song stuck in my head for days.  This is so weird.  I thought for sure I would hear more traditional music.

***

There’s no way I’m getting out of this bed when it’s this cold.  Where are my Kleenexes?  This is an emergency.  I know we’re supposed to be conserving energy, but this is ridiculous.  1-2-3, go brush your teeth.  Ice-cold toilet seats are probably proof that Satan exists.  Tiny heater in the bathroom, you are now my savior.

***

Time to hike for some different scenery for this photo project.  I’ve never seen so many puddles in my entire life.  I’ve never walked through so much mud in my entire life.  This is a storm?  This is just so much rain.  I hate being wet.  Better get used to it.  Please don’t slip on these rocks.  Please don’t fall in the mud.  Yikes!  Thorns!  That hurt.  This climb better be worth it.  This scenic path would make a great photo.  Don’t mind if I do.

Made it!  Wow.  I can see so much of the sky.  The fog is rolling in.  The bay sits to my left.  I can barely breathe.  Being damp is definitely worth this view.

***

Excuse me!  Walking here!  I’m just to survive the walk back to our cottage from school.  Is it really necessary to drive that fast on a road that’s about as wide as one lane in Minnesota?  Oh no, a truck!  Please don’t splash me please don’t splash me!  Cringe toward the stone wall.  Watch the thorns.  Ugh.  Gotta cross the road.  Geronimo!  Almost got hit by a car, but hey, I survived.  That’s what matters.  And what’s with these vests?  Is this some kind of joke played on newbies around Ballyvaughan?  I feel like a chubby glowstick.  Ya gotta do what ya gotta do I suppose.  I’m going to work this glowing vest.

***

Galway!  Finally, a city.  Its population is a tiny fraction of Minneapolis’, but I will take it.  Shop Street is an exciting rainbow of shops to spend my hard earned euros.  A medieval city?  That explains the stone wall in the mall.  I love this place, I’m geeking out this is history major heaven.  History is so engrained in this city there’s even a medieval building transformed into a bank!

“Where’s my GPS?  Lacie!  I want to go to the original Claddagh shop!”

Follow me, Jessica.  It’s this way.  Turn here, I’m positive it is close to the river.  Cross here (please don’t die).  It should be up ahead on this road.  Here it is!  Another successful navigation.

“If you come back around 3:30, I’ll have that apple pie ready!”

Done and Done.  I’m there.  This pie makes my mouth happy.  Best pie ever.  If I ever come to Ireland again, it’s worth a trip to Galway again to eat the Pie Maker’s Pie.  Definitely a highlight of this trip.

***

Please taxi Tom, get us to the Ennis bus station alive!  This ride is like a roller coaster, these curves are sharp and we’re bolting over these small bumps, I’m losing my stomach every few seconds.  I’d like to survive my first cab ride please.

“How’s the view in the front seat?”

I can see everything up here!  Including the little boy we almost pulverized around that street corner.  If there is a God, please help us.

***

“We’re goin’ ta Limerick!”

Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  I suppose I would be cranky too if I had to drive a bus all day every day.  Does everyone drive like a maniac here though?  Everyone is bobbing and weaving.  I have to try not to hit my head on the window when we enter these roundabouts.  Also, dude on your phone, please just stop.  I can’t understand your accent and you don’t have to yell for them to hear you.  I’d watch it if I were you because I feel nauseous.

***

“We don’t do discounts because we replaced your meal.”

Well I would hope you would accomplish that minimal task.  You expect me to finish a burger with a bug in it?  I’d like to put a bug in your burger.  Cork: city of welcomes?  I don’t know about that.

“GPS Lacie needs an update!” (plays with the pompom on my hat.)

I bought a new hat in Galway, now I’m Lacie 2.0 and this purple pompom serves as my antenna.  We don’t have a wifi connection, so we need to navigate old school.  At least winging it is a lot easier with a large river in the middle of the city as a landmark.  How do people drive around here when all of the streets are not marked clearly?  And the pub is in a tiny alley?  The “Crane Lane” is going to take forever to find.

***

I think I’m actually going to miss not having wifi.  Believe it.  Sitting at Logues talking to my new friends is way more fun than Facebook ever could be.  Leaving Ballyvaughan is making me emotional, this is going to take some serious mental preparation.  My mind is going to turn to mush without the constant stimulation of cool new things.  Maybe I’ll brave public transportation in Minneapolis just for the heck of it.

 

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