Today, here, the date reads, 20-10-2010, weird huh?!
Alright, last few weeks, guys. Can you even believe it?! I certainly cannot. So many things have happened. So much change. So many emotions. So little time…
In my last post I mentioned going to the movies, that was Wednesday the 6th, that entire week, including both weekends was the Ballinasloe Horse Fair. The fashion show that Francis took me to was part of that, really fun and interesting to see. All the models were local girls and guys and as in any small town with guys modeling they were absolutely hilarious. You had the ones that loved the attention and the shy ones that were only doing it because their mothers, aunts, sister, girlfriends told them to, but the best part was that so much of the audience knew all of them so when someone came out that they found it hard to believe they were up there, the audience cheered. The show was in a local hotel, a really nice one actually and I felt severely underdressed as I usually do here. I ended up talking to the girl who won the competition outside, before she won, so that was pretty cool. I can’t remember her name but she was a fashion student from Dublin.
That was the same night Cedric from Lyon, France arrived. One of the nicest, most positive people I’ve ever met! – The next day I was told that I’d missed an impromptu singing session between Gage, Carrie, Padraig
and Una which I was sincerely upset about but glad it happened for everyones sake. I loved picking potatoes and exchanging language lessons with him on the top field. I commited three things to memory. “Ou est les toilettes?”, “Ou est le statione de bus?” and “Un ver du vine, sil vous plait.” – The three most important of course.
The next night I went into town with Carrie, Gage and Ian to see some of the craziness of the fair still going on. They have a tug-o-war competition every year. ‘Nuff said am I right? Ha! The teams are the different pubs and stores in the area and it was a great sight to see. I especially liked the coaches standing next to them as they ‘tugged’ cheering them on or yelling at them. We went into the Dunlo Tavern after and stayed for a good long while, it was so packed! I had only been to this pub once before, on a Wednesday night, and it had maybe 10 people. This night you could barely find a seat, such a rare sight in Ballinasloe. Trad music playing and drinks flowing, it was a great time. I’m pretty sure I told everyone in the pub by the end of the night how amazed I was at the accordion players ability to tap his foot so fast…yeah, anyone who has ever drank with me will appreciate that/know exactly what this looked like.
Friday morning, Una asked me to join her at market again – third week in a row! So great. I really enjoyed going to market, since by nature I’m a talker, this worked out well for me. My favorite thing about talking to strangers there is that they often preface their questions with, “Are you Canadian?” I’ve come to the conclusion that this is from experience of offending Canadians in the past when asking them if they were American, because I don’t see myself have very many Canadian qualities…haha…but who knows.
That weekend was my first time to stay in Ballinasloe. Every other weekend since I arrived I’d traveled to another place for at least Saturday if not both Saturday and Sunday. So, the fair. Oh my gosh, the fair! I woke up ate a bit then went straight to town. I walked around this place in amazement for 5 hours! There were seriously so many sights to see. Before I stepped onto the green I walked around the rows and rows of stalls selling various things from antique furniture to raffle tickets to win a tractor. One woman was selling a beauty product that was supposed to make your hands smooth and asked if I’d like to give it a go. I’m pretty sure she regretted it when
I said yes and then we had an audience because my hands are seriously heinous right now and no amount of product was going to pretty them up. Hahaha it was a funny sight to see her hurry me along, trying to distract the potential customers from seeing the outcome.
The other funny aspect of the fair is that, as I mentioned once before, it is a huge gathering for travelers or modern day Irish gypsies. Known for being clever pcik-pockets, but also for their unique style of dress. Supposedly the fair is their biggest match-making event, where they young girls and guys are paired – though I’m not sure how true this still is, the girls certainly dress to attract attention. On a day where I’m dressed in hat, scarf, long sleeves, boots, etc. these women and young girls are dressed as if it
were carnival on a caribbean island, complete with tan – but an orange, from a bottle one. One girl wore booty shorts, sandals that strapped all the way up past her knee and a button up shrug- like thing with a collar and nothing else. It was about 60 degree’s at the most that day. Please take a moment to imagine myself walking around these streets trying to stealthily capture a picture in a non-creepy way of these people.
Well luckily neither I or anyone I knew got anything stolen so all was good. After I had my fill of the stalls and traveler-watching, haha, I made my way to the green to see me some horses. I can’t honestly say I’m at a loss of words, since all I’ll be doing here is talking about it, but a difficult sight to describe. First of all, there is a ride park set up right next to the green complete with roller-coasters and American pop music. Secondly, it was not uncommon to walk past people with a live chicken in one arm and a puppy in the other. The fair is all about buying and selling horses, but many other animals as well including donkey, goat, dogs, ducks, chickens, hens, roosters, etc. I kept cracking up walking through the ocean of horses and their owners when I’d hear neighing and then Brittany Spears’ Baby One More Time simultaneously.
I walked passed a guy sitting in a fold up chair with a big bucket in front of him. I thought it was trash but curiously looked in as I went by and was shocked to see 3 small puppies staring wide-eyed and energetic back up at me. I would have bought them all had I been home. I walked all through the horses and around the outskirts and when I couldn’t find an opening on the side I ended up at, I hopped over a stone wall…right onto a race track! These people must have thought I was insane! I thought these kids were just messing around riding their horses so freakin fast and not stopping for me, but I later learned from Padraig that this was the designated area for the races. So I suppose I was lucky, just kept my cool and stayed against the wall as I walked and these horses were speeeeeeding past me.
Saturday night was great, Ian, Cedric and I made a delicious dinner at the cabin then went to town to meet up with Gage, Carrie and Padraig. The Emerald Pub, which smelled like horse pooh from everyone’s shoes during the fair, was our first stop. Next, a B&B/pub/restaurant/dance club – I can’t remember the name, but pretty hilarious as on Saturday night Cedric, Ian and I were dancing to techno music and the next morning we were eating breakfast there. And finally, we landed at a pub called Blake’s where there was live music and here is where we found Padraig cuttin a rug right out front on the sidewalk. A highlight of the evening for sure. The band consisted of 3 young guys guitar, drums and accordion.
They played Irish music and American music with an added accordion twist – amazing. Lastly, we ended up at the second of two nightclubs in Ballinasloe, called East.
I’m sorry I’ve rambled on a bit here. I have so much I want to tell you all and this barely even covers a third of it! – I ended up leaving the farm around 11 am on Tuesday morning after tear-filled hugs and goodbyes to all my new friends. Everyone wanted to give me a ride to the bus but I wanted to do the once unfamiliar walk one more time before my departure. I also knew I needed to let out a good cry and I did so all the way up the hill and all the way down it as well. (And even a little on the bus…haha) But after a while, I started to get excited about my travels again.
- A common surname of a traveler is Ward. There are a few common ones, though they don’t really apply as much now as they did a few decades ago. – Apparently there is a fued between the two big ones Ward and McDonough.
- Do not put a 50 euro note into a bus ticket machine and expect to get anything other than 2 euro coins back in return, especially when your ticket only cost 9.
- “I call fives, or fivesies” would mean nothing to a west-coaster where they say “tap-tap” to save a seat when they get up for a few minutes.
- Ian taught me how to make bread from scratch, super easy by the way, and we made homemade veggie pizza two different nights!
- Parsnip chips are amazingly delicious.
- If you buy truffles – not the sweet, but the expensive fungi – and put them in with your eggs and/or salt for a week you’ll have truffle flavored salt and eggs and still have the truffle to use for cooking!
- Monday morning after the fair, a friend of Padraig’s stopped by the farm to get some broken carrots to feed the donkey that his girlfriend drunkenly purchased the night before for 20 euro. They don’t live on a lot of land so the donkey, in one night, had eaten their entire garden! Padraig and Una eventually decided to take the donkey off them for the farm, as a pet for the girls.