I suspect this is something I'll be adding on to in the next few months.
I've learned that produce tastes better in (Northern) Ireland than Canada. The peppers are tastier and the apples are crisper. The millk may taste better too.
I've decided that I do not understand why religion is the cause of so much conflict around the world. Most recently and evidently in Northern Ireland. I know that I will also see this in Israel.
I've learned the Irish love to talk, give amazing tours and are full of craic (pronounced “crack”).
I'm beginning to decide/believe that organized religion is the cause of more grief than it's worth. Spirituality seems like a more positive road to travel. Believing in the “Golden Rule” and the goodness of people, rather than something/someone that you can not see, touch or feel. I see people, but I do not see “God”. I see graves and pictures of deceased, killed in the name of “God”. I see heartache and tragedy, but I do not see “God”. Maybe I'm just not a true believer and therefore not privy to seeing “it”, but I see heartache and suffering in the name of “God” and this seems a bit too primitive for me.
I've learned that some hostels are better than others. Some are amazing, social and fun. Some are acceptable as a place to sleep. Some have awful mattress covers that result in you having your sleep interruped. These same beds can also creak WAY too much. Annoying to say the least.
I've learned that most hostels have painfully awful kitchens.
I've decided (realized?) that five monumental events have happened in my life which have truly shaped “where” I am today. One, entering the Gifted Program in grade 7, thanks to Mr. Tindall and my mom's diligence and perseverance. Two, following Deborah Levy up to Camp Shalom in 1988, and meeting Saul Colt. Three, deciding to go back to school for teachers' college when I was 30. Four, doing The Friends for Life Bike Rally the summer before I started teachers' college and meeting James Anok. Five, meeting Jodi.
I've learned that I tend to view things photographically now.
I've decided that travel to learn about people and cultures is a beautiful thing, in order to figure out more about the “world” that I live in.
I've learned that I do not understand why the conflict in Northern Ireland has continued for as long as it has.
I've decided that things and stuff are less important to me now than they have ever been, but what I have with me right now keeps me warm and dry.
I've learned that marrying Jodi was the greatest thing I could have ever done.
I've learned the Irish serve Guinness too cold for my liking.
I've learned I like Magner's cider more than Bulmer's cider.
I've decided that all toilets should have a bidet and dryer. Mind you, I haven't encountered one as of yet.
I've decided that Starbucks is not evil, but a gift to humanity, for their consistent quality and "free" WiFi.
I've decided this trek isn't about farming or slaughtering a meal, but is becoming a quest to learn more about the world and try to make sense of (in)humanity.
I've learned that I can run and take pictures quickly. Belfast is a good place to learn this!
I've learned I like Scotch whisky more than Irish whiskey because it's more challenging. Which is somewhat analogous for my relationship with Jodi.
I've learned that Jodi is right at least 85% of the time.
I've realized I REALLY miss being truly connected to my friends and "weekly" visits with my parents and in-laws.
I've realized that 2.5 weeks into our five month adventure I'm really excited about my "hajj" to my truest ancestral homeland (Scotland) and not at all burnt out. I've never really desired to go to Poland or Russia, and we'll be in Israel at the end of our travels, but I'm more excited about the geography and people than it being "the Jewish homeland". Probably in large part to being Jew-ish and more cultural with my Jewishness than anything.
I've learned that tea is better in the UK and Ireland than North America, because everyone here seems to boil the water for tea, whereas back home it's just "hot water". Feh.
I haven't had any fried food yet, but I know that fish and chips is on the horizon in Scotland. Maybe even a fried Mars bar for s**ts 'n giggles.
I've realized I'm really emotional about finding birth information on my grandmother, both for me (and my mom - who hasn't asked me to do any of this), but also because of my father's uncertain health in the past few months. (On that note, as I know people will ask, he's going to be starting a six-month low dose antibiotic that should help with the infections he's been dealing with for a few years. That said, I'm not a doctor (though I play one on TV), but I'm also concerned that it could lower his overall immunity and make him susceptible to something else.)
I've learned that Tim Horton's is available in Belfast (Northern Ireland otherwise?) at SPAR. That said, I'm not a Tim Horton's fan. I know, I know. I'm Canadian. I also don't like hockey. As my mother frequently reminds me (I used to say this a whole lot more than I do now), "Suck it up and deal with it kid."
I've realized it's sort of ironic that I'm going to take a boat to Scotland today. I learned from Billy Connolly (on the plane from Toronto to London) that people leaving Scotland frequently had their wake done at the boat docks, as the family/friends left behind knew that they probably would never see them again. My grandmother left Scotland as a teenager and never saw her parents again. I can't fathom that.