My three days in Dublin came and went very quickly, mostly due to a rambunctious weekend in New York and mild jet-lag that turned severe in my case (breakfast at 3pm, anyone?). By the time I got out the door each day, it was already pushing five in the afternoon, so my sightseeing remained regrettably limited to walking around and taking pictures of places as they closed. Still, the glowing warmth of the people I met in the Irish capital tempered the chilly, late-summer weather, and contrary to popular myth, most Irish are not freckled red-heads (though it is indeed a striking phenotype). I noticed right away the athleticism of the women and the scrappiness of the men; this does not seem a society made soft by generations of office work. Bikes are prevalent and the city is infinitely walkable; despite often gloomy weather, there's still no reason for laziness.
Due to the recent economic boom that went bust with the rest of the world's economy, Dublin is surprisingly multicultural, with notable communities of Africans and Asians, as well as Europeans of all stripes. The guys at the Centra who let me use their phone: Mexican and Lithuanian. The bartender at the CouchSurfing Zone: Russian. The cooks at the kebab place just off O'Connell: Venezuelan and Portuguese. Of course, I ended up being adopted by the local Brazilian contingent—estimated at 10,000—who come to the country to learn English because of less-stringent visa requirements. I now have immediate offers of temporary lodging in São Paulo when I arrive, and a slew of friends and relatives to contact. I was complimented on conversing in Portuguese for 40-minutes straight, which got me excited about the prospect of near-fluency within a matter of months. Those darn Brazilians...they get you excited about everything.
I also got a chance to hang with the family of one of my best friends in Colombia, with whom I worked at the university in Bogotá and had zillions of conversations on race and politics and on how blacks and the Irish should be natural allies in the face of shared oppression and as the joint cultural originators of American music. There was no stuffiness or pretense at dinner with Kathy's engaging family (starring an 8-year-old bon vivant named Henry), just great food and good belly laughs at her expense (Star Trek convention, luv?). ;-)
Admittedly, not seeing any of the renowned museums (they're all free!) because of a jacked-up sleep schedule threw a wrench in my plan of attack, so that'll be something I'll try not to duplicate in the future. Meanwhile, it gives me an excuse to come back to Dublin.
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