Cork and Kinsale, Ireland

02-Oct, Cork, 14:00: First Murphy’s stout (so much better than Guinness!) My choice of pub (Clancy’s) for lunch wasn’t perfect, but it’s ok, especially since I was starting to get shaky from hunger. Had chicken and vegetable soup and bread. My apple crumble dessert was a cold blob from the fridge, not the warm baked goodness I was hoping for. The locally-brewed Beamish I had with it was nice though. ;-)

Heh, I’m back in a country where I don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying English music on the stereo. The flight into Cork was playing U2 as they were taxiing to the gate.

04-Oct, Frankfield, Co. Cork: Dell called this morning to say they would dispatch a repair technician next Tuesday (what happened to “next day on-site?”).

13:39 Walked over to the nearest pub to Kamila’s apartment, which is way over in Douglas (a 25-min walk). Now having a draught Murphy’s and waiting on my Irish burger with Irish cheddar cheese.

Had another dream last night. Don’t remember all of it or any of the other people in it, but there was a huge white sheet (football field huge) and everything was very bright white (eerily like the Hollywood depictions of people dying and going towards the bright light). I could walk along the sheet as it undulated, and if I wanted to get in the right spot it would bounce me high into the air, then catch me as I fell back down, like the balls on the parachute in grade-school gym class. It was generally a nice dream, but there was something unsettling about it, something less innocent than the pure white that surrounded me.

05-Oct: Went into Cork to look around. Saw a street fair of live folk music, which was nice. 13:30: am now sitting in the Woodford Pub, Kamila is at Mass. She is worshiping in her way, I in mine, with a Beamish, Irish stew, and soda bread.

07-Oct, 16:15: the Dell tech has just reassembled the laptop after replacing the motherboard and…nothing. Still doesn’t work.

08-Oct, 13:45: Another motherboard, another nothing.

09-Oct, 12:00: A third motherboard and a new processor: it works! But the WiFi doesn’t, and when the tech goes to check the connections it is so hot it nearly burns him. He’ll have to come back, again.

I started reading Ryszard Kapuscinski on Kamila’s recommendation, and after the first sentence of the first book became pretty much addicted. Now, in a third book, he is traveling through Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Agonizing as I am about flying east and resuming the trip, or calling it quits and heading “home”, I need to read about Yerevan and Tblisi like I need to read a romance novel: I don’t really want to be reminded of what I’m missing.

Maybe it’s all the English signage and literature, the more familiar cultural things, or the fact that Frankfield, Co. Cork, could be a suburb of Columbus, Ohio (except for the whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing), but I’ve been feeling like heading back to the States. I’ve spent a lot of money on the trip so far – eating in restaurants instead of picnicking from grocery stores, staying in single rooms instead of youth hostel dorms, etc., and with all the news of doom and gloom in the financial world (the Croatian’s prophecy that this crisis will make the Great Depression “seem like a party” echoing in my head) I wonder if it’s wise to be spending instead of saving. I haven’t had much savings in my life, and I guess I am starting to feel guilty about letting it burn a hole in my pocket.

So all the “Vans” out there – Yerevan, Tatvan, Lake Van – and don’t forget Batman (a town in eastern Turkey, not the superhero) – I think these will have to wait for another day. Samarkand and Ashgabat, Shiraz, Tashkent, Amritsar, the Pamirs, the Tien Shan, the Karakoram, the Taklimakan… I’d been looking forward to writing “Mark, reporting live from Qom” on a postcard. Well, hey have been around since long before Ibn Battutah and Marco Polo, they will probably be around for the next time I get itchy feet (which probably won’t be all that long anyhow).

I booked a flight home via Philadelphia, New York, and Columbus. Home in time for birthday and the Pumpkin Show!