Arrived at Heathrow airport. From the window of the plane we could see castles and manors dotting the countryside.
In a few of my travels, I have been made very aware of my white-ness: in Thailand, among the hill tribes, with women surrounding us and pushing their handicrafts; in Mexico, walking down the street and being called "guera" (literally "white girl")--these were pretty blunt reminders.
But on the plane to London, surrounded by English-speakers with British accents, I suddenly became very self-conscious about my American-ness, which hasn't happened before. Considered that we were coming from Texas and traveling to a popular destination, I think this feeling was my own projection.
(Update: I mostly got over this during our time in the airport--and I was also made painfully aware that having a British accent does not mean you know what you're talking about in the slightest--more on this soon).
I'm currently sitting on the plane to Dublin, waiting or take-off, recoving from a harrowing experience with airport security--namely someone telling Andrew that no, we can't go through to our gate because we're actually in the wrong terminal (they're separated by bus rides, by the way), resulting in us going al the way back to where we started in this terminal only to have our suspicions confirmed that actually we ARE in the correct terminal, the guard was wrong, and we were probably going to miss our flight because of it. SO we hurried back through passport control, biometric scans, security, and all of Terminal 1...and we made it all the way back to the errant guard who laughingly apologized, taking his time (when we had no time left) before trying to tell us that our flight was leaving from a different gate than what the TV monitors said.
Well, we had none of that and moved on, thinking the gate was just around the corner. To our dismay, it was several long hallways away--we took them at a despairing jog. We arrived at the gate finally, sweaty, panicked, and exhausted from our prior overnight flight from Houston, with no time to spare, only to discover that our plane has been delayed and has not even begun to board yet. My reaction is both relief and immense frustration, now that I finally have the time to get pissed about the guard's incompetance.
Our plane is taxiing, and I can barely keep my eyes open. We're going to spend the majority of this trip being tired and sweaty; I'd just asumed that would begin with the hike, not in the airport.
Our trip to the first hostel was made considerably easier thanks to Keller's old supervisor David who just moved to Dulkey (outside of Dublin) and drove us there. We stopped in Eniskerry for dinner (blandest Chinese take-away ever) and a pint--of Guiness, of course. Our hostel is new, entirely IKEA-furnished, and seems nice enough. The bathroom is all-in-one, with the sink and toilet basically in an oversized shower stall, but there is the unique addition of an emergency pull-cord that summons a nurse.
Dublin itself is unlike any other city I've been to, in that it seems to combine the least efficient/most dangerous aspects of other big cities: the roads are narrow and filled with dare-devil pedestrians, and the layout is far from a grid, and streets are seldom labled. Kind of makes me glad we'll be spending out time walking in sheep pastures.
We're laughing because we're not exhausted yet!