“I am sorry to inform you that we have to shut the water off from 8:30p.m. to 8:30a.m. while you stay here.” Those are not words anyone wants to hear while moving into a hostel nearing the night hours, but it makes you wonder why something like that would happen. Is it because they are trying to save money? I am sure that is what most people would assume at first because it’s Ireland, it rains almost 250 days a year. Well, that is not exactly true everywhere you go. There are some places in Ireland that are experiencing severe drought as of now and there is not much they can do to stop it. On the Aran Islands there has not been substantial rain in almost 15 weeks. I began to wonder, how is that possible? It rains everywhere else. I set out and found the answer to that question: as moisture and clouds are traveling from the ocean, they travel until they hit something where it triggers the release of the water as rain, typically on mountains or other high land. These islands are nearly completely flat, so all of the clouds are traveling right over while only drizzling a little rain at best, resulting in a major water shortage. Others may ask, well they are on an island – why can’t they just get water from the lakes and water around them? The answer to that is simple, the surrounding water is not clean at all. Ireland signifies the clarity and cleanliness of the bodies of water by flags. A blue flag signifies very clear and safe water, while a white flag signifies that the water is unclear and not suitable for consumption. The white flags are flying all over these islands, which also means that the tap water is not very safe for consumption.
The Irish government is getting a lot of backlash as of now for their recent proposal to tax and charge for the amount of water used by citizens. The reason the people of the nation are against this is because they believe water is a natural resource and that no one should have control over the pricing. It was clearly obvious as I talked to the locals that no one was very happy about not being able to use water after the set hours. However they are not complaining too much because it is what is necessary for the water to be sustainable. In my opinion, it is not difficult getting accustomed to the water ban, it just creates some small issues such as flushing toilets at night or showering, but nothing too important.
“Hello,” “Good morning,” “You alright?” What is going on here? Why are these random people greeting me everywhere that I go? Where I am from, if I look at someone while near them on the street I will get a dirty look or an angry remark. As I walk down the stone path streets of Cloughjordan I am able to further my understanding of the community that everyone around the village built. When you get to villages like this, the population starts to dwindle tremendously compared to the larger cities, everyone knows everyone. There is a sense of belonging in each place I visited, and every community member knows if you are actually a part of the community or not. Residents do things for each other even if it requires some personal sacrifices. While exploring the area, in the eco-village, I spoke with a local bartender about life in the small village. Cloughjordan is a special example because of how small the village is, but the bartender said something that stuck with me: “If I closed down shop tomorrow and started collecting unemployment, I would earn more money per week than if I ran this pub.” I responded, “Then what is stopping you from doing something like that?” He replied, “I could not leave an occupation like this where I am able to be paid to see everyone in the village that I have grown up with and am close to, it gives me a sense of meaning.” He seemed so passionate as he spoke, he has been dealing with these hardships for nearly twenty years, but even with all of that he loves every second of it. To struggle for the sake of having a happy life is not an easy choice to make, but to that bartender it was the best choice he ever made.
It looked like I just got served puke on a plate. My eyes and nose are in a major battle on what is going on in front of me, a plate of Beef & Guinness stew. The brown chunks on a dark creamy sauce that seemed like an unappetizing mess combined with the savory smell of perfectly cooked beef and went through my nasal passage like music.
I am an extremely particular person when it comes to eating food, I have not had the pleasure of expanding my palate too much, but I usually give new foods a shot. I was in the Achill Islands located in a hostel called the Valley House, we were told the chefs had something special cooked up for us. Seated next to me, my bus driver Des seemed to sense my discomfort, so he gave me some reassurance, “Trust me, it may look like a disgusting mess but it might be one of the most tasty meals you will have had so far, and it is a typical meal families would have on a Sunday night so it is not like they do not know how to make it right.” I took his little pep talk with great consideration as I extended my teeth to take the slightest little nibble on the corner of a piece of the beef, and to my complete astonishment, the flavors ran through my palate like I have been missing out on something my whole life. Without even giving the slightest thought, I gobbled that dish up in a matter of two minutes along with the softest textured buttery mashed potatoes that my mouth has ever experienced. Before I knew it I was already asking for seconds, followed by a small request for thirds, I could not get enough of it. The following day I did not even want to eat anything else, my mind was still obsessed with the beef stew from the previous night. I managed to get them to heat me up more leftovers for my dinner that night, and without any sort of question in my mind, that was the absolute best dish I had experienced on this entire trip to Ireland.