Monday, August 16, 2004

Montreal, Quebec--Chicago, Illinois--Dublin, Ireland—Days 197/198

I arrived into Dublin this morning around 9 a.m. I flew from Montreal to Chicago and then on to Dublin on an overnight flight. Too bad I didn’t get any sleep! My flight to Chicago was fine and only did I get a little bit of a questioning look from the immigration woman when she asked what I was doing in Canada. I showed her my article and she just laughed. Out of any immigration person that I have been questioned by she was by far the most amused by what I was doing, and the most interested in it.

She sent me on my way and I fly to Chicago with plenty of time to make my way over to the International Terminal via the tram, get some dinner, read a magazine and watch a terrible pseudo-documentary about Britney Spears before boarding the plane.
I didn’t manage to sleep much on my flight. I had switched seats with another woman so that she could be with her friend mostly and ended up sitting next to a woman who kept her feet crossed over into my leg room area so I had hardly any room to move my legs around. The food was so-so and the movie was as well but at least it made the time pass.

I finally managed to fall asleep when of course it was time for breakfast so I woke up to the sound of “Breakfast? Breakfast?” from the flight attendants making their way down the aisle.

Once we landed I went through immigration which was not as bad as I thought. I got the usual questions like where are you from (Arizona), what is your purpose (business), what’s your profession? (photographer) etc. Just as the guy picked up his stamp to stamp down on my passport he asked me, oh, well, what do you photograph then?

When I told him hippos, his hand stopped and his eyes finally looked up at me. What? He says.

Hippos. As in zoo animals.

He just looked at me in disbelief and I just waited for him to put his stamp down and send me on my way to some further interrogation or something. But he pounded the stamp down onto my passport and handed it back to me saying, Good luck with that.


So I headed out, found my bag and a taxi and was on my way to downtown Dublin. The entire ride my taxi driver recommended places for me to go (basically saying that my hotel was in a sketchy area so I shouldn’t “go left out of the hotel”) Okaaaay, what is that supposed to mean?

I checked into the hotel and went to drop my stuff in my room but decided that it might be best if I laid down for a bit.

Four hours later, I was up. It was 2:30 and not only did I need to get to the zoo but I needed to call Kim, my friend Alicia’s (from Tucson, living in Bellingham, remember?) cousin who just so happens to be studying abroad in Cork this fall. I called her and to my surprise, she was just getting off a train at the Dublin train station and was already in Dublin! She was going to take a taxi to the hotel and meet me in a half an hour.

So I made myself more presentable and after a while headed downstairs to find Kim and she was in the lobby. We came back up and dropped her stuff off in the room before we decided to go survey things out at the zoo.

So we got on the bus and got dropped off at Phoenix Park, where the Dublin Zoo is located. We walked to the zoo entrance, bought our tickets and went in, finding the hippos in the African Plains area.

There were three of them—one big and two smaller ones. Unfortunately they were in their inside enclosure which consisted of two barred areas, one with the big hippo and the other with the smaller two. They were all chowing down on fresh hay that appeared to JUST have been laid, so I knew we were in for a long wait before they ate their food and headed outside.

So we waited and waited and several times dashed outside when one hippo looked like they were going to go outside. We could watch them all along because their indoor enclosure was set against glass but of course there was no hope to get a good picture through the glass and into the darkened enclosure.

Did I mention that it was raining this whole time? Um yeah, it basically started drizzling and then pouring. Kim and I spent a lot of time waiting outside but the outdoor area for the hippos to come out as well, which prompted several families to come over to see what the heck we were looking at, and when it really started to pour went to the indoor enclosure area. As well stood and the rained poured down two puddles began to form on both entrances to the indoor viewing area so we had no choice but to basically leap over (and consequently submerge our feet) the big puddles of water.

At 5:15 p.m. the lights in the already dark inside enclosure turned off, leaving the hippos in total darkness. It was clear that they weren’t going to be heading outside any time soon (all three of them had entered a small indoor pool at this point) so Kim and I decided to leave, finding out later that the African Plains section of the zoo closes at 5:30 anyways.

It was a complete downpour when we walked out of the zoo and back across the park to get the bus, hoping all along that a taxi would pull up and take us back to the hotel. None did, but we finally made it to the bus, got on, and headed back towards our hotel, absolutely soaking wet.

We got off the bus a little ways from the hotel and on our way back to the hotel stopped to get dinner since we were both starving. We then went back to the hotel initially to change clothes but then realized that the Olympics were on (men’s swimming to be more exact) and decided the call it a night being the half jet-lagged, half Olympic-obsessed pair we were.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.