My first day to skip class in Ireland was well worth it and more!! Paul took Jacie and I along with him to Ireland’s National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, County Laois. Although we did not get to see the Ploughing event itself, the day was full of sheep, cattle, tractors, and free food samples. Absolutely amazing right? It was fascinating to compare Ireland’s agriculture industry to ours back home.
If I were to compare it to large events around Indiana, I would say it was a healthy mix of the Indiana State Fair, because of the food and livestock, and the Farm Machinery Show, due to the tractors and numerous company advertising booths. The fact that they had 8 different colored blimps, one in the sky above each parking lot, shows how large this event is every year.
On a side note, I found it a bit comical that the Angus beef booth showcased their meat right outside the building where they showcased live animals. This also was the case for the Hereford and Charolais breeds. Most people I know would appreciate this arrangement while many others would be turned away in the blink of an eye.
Saturday’s adventure was just that, an adventure. Jena found Dalkey in one of her books of what to do in Ireland. The two of us along with Jacie and Conner walked to the dart station, figured out how to get on the thing, and rode the dart to Dalkey, Ireland. We stopped at the first cafe in sight. I was pretty warm from the walk and the weather was perfect outside so I thought hmm, I’ll get a raspberry milkshake instead of coffee. Talk about a huge mistake. Something about the dairy products here is a mystery. The milk and cheese taste better but the ice-cream and sour cream is just completely different. I managed to finish about half the milkshake and called it quits. We knew the water’s edge was very close and had to find Dalkey Island!!
We walked down off the road onto a small dock. The steps were covered in slimy moss and the wind was pretty vicious. The four of us crawled in this small boat and put our life jackets on. Yes we got wet but my camera didn’t thank goodness!! Top left is a picture of the island as we were in the boat headed to it. The top right picture was taken from the side of the tower in the first picture. The mountains were absolutely gorgeous and come on, nothing is an adventure without animals. We found the goats!!! We spent probably two hours on the island taking it all in and taking plenty of pictures to remember it. Next weekend is the last weekend of the season which meant we couldn’t come back if we wanted to.
Today, Jena and I celebrated Mid-Autumn Day with Fiona and her friends. In the Chinese culture, the lunar calendar is used to determine days of celebration. For example, the Chinese New Year is always a month or so later than the New Year we celebrate back in the United States. Also according to the lunar calendar, today is August 15th. Mid-Autumn day is about family reunion and celebration. The full moon is a symbol of family togetherness and to show its importance, the moon cake desert is customary on this day.
The 8 of us sat on the ground around our tiny coffee table filled with yummy dishes. The main food of course was rice in a bowl or on a plate. The routine is to take a little bit of one dish and eat it with your rice then take a little of the next dish and do the same. I contributed by making chili for tonight’s meal, which most tried after finishing their rice bowls. I couldn’t tell if Fiona’s friends actually liked my dish or went back for seconds just to be nice. Anyway, Jena and I went to town on some pretty killer chili if you ask me.
After dinner, we ate moon cake of course! We tried 2 different ones including a lotus flavored cake and a moon cake filled with nuts. As the girls washed dishes and put them away, the guys made a special black tea to help aid digestion of our large meal. These tea leaves came from a tree on the Wuyi Mountain in Fujian Province of China. Curve, one of the Chinese guys, explained to us that tea cups with these leaves in the bottom should only be filled half full and the first amount of water should be discarded as a wash of the tea leaves. Talk about soothing, tasty, and very interesting. The night of celebration concluded with a walk around campus gazing at the amazingly bright moon in our presence.