Tag Archives: solo travel

Irish: A Story on Immigration

Lush green fields dotted with sheep, mountain high cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and waves lapping at the foot of the cliffs. Scenic views that call those with a bit of Irish blood from around the world to come and visit. It’s a peaceful place. A place to sit on one of the hills and listen to the splashing water, meditate, and wonder how life used to be in this idyllic situation.

The windowless hallway leads the way; steel doors sealed shut with padlocks. I bump into someone, a member of my tour. We are in prison, but at the end of the tour, we will be out of prison. Unlike the men, women, and children who spent days, months, and years in this prison for stealing food because they were starving.

Ireland experienced a very dark time in its history. Men could not make the payments on the rents of their homes owned by English landlords who lived not in Ireland but England. The Great Famine also referred to as the Great Hunger began in 1845 with a pest infecting the potatoes. Potatoes turned black and the farmers lost their only source of income.

The English grabbed healthy potatoes and sent them to England. The Irish had only the rotten potatoes to feed their families. Irish men had only a few choices left for supporting their families. They worked in pensions owned by the English. They gave up their land and possessions to gain admittance to the pensions which paid little.  Irish women had to seek food and shelter for their children. They became desperate and began to steal to provide food for their families.

The families were left destitute and ended up in prison.

This was a time when families collected money from their relatives and took out loans to send their children to North America to find jobs because there were none in Ireland. Tourists who visit Ireland go to the Guinness beer museum, hike in the lush grass, and eat at the numerous bars and restaurants. Not many people venture into the dark history of Ireland’s past, something that should not be forgotten.

Early immigration began with the Irish seeking a better life. No different than those traveling now to the US seeking a better experience. No one wanted the Irish when they first arrived to the US. They were dirty and known for drinking and being lazy. The same view people have of the recent asylum seekers to the U.S. They are criminals, lazy, and must be feared. These people are no different from the Irish. They are fleeing poverty, political problems, and crime. 

Tourists go to Ireland because they want to drink and have fun. Some go to look for their roots, grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunts. Visits to cemeteries and small villages give them a small window to look into and get a glimpse of what life may have been.

I saw people with freckles and red hair, and I found people who were darker in color. Immigrants from Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Arab.  East Indians owned the local hotel where I stayed.

The US government has caused a severe problem. Keeping people from crossing the border is no different than keeping the Irish immigrants on their ships and refusing them permission to embark on American soil. They were said to have diseases. Some of them died on the boat before they were able to get much needed medical help.

Now, we celebrate the Irish. We have big parades on St Patrick’s day. We turn many lakes and rivers green. Every one declares they are Irish even if they aren’t. The US has more Irish living here than in the country of Ireland. Some of these recent immigrants are returning to Ireland. Life in the US is not what they want. Ireland has become more prosperous and can offer high tech jobs.

The immigrants coming to the U.S. are of color. Our current government wants to keep them out. This is sad and neglectful. We have no right to discriminate against those who are not white.

Let’s not forget why Irish parents were willing to send their teenage sons and daughter on a ship so far away. For the same reasons, people do it today: better opportunities in education and employment. They want their children to do better than what they can do in their own countries because of corruption, crime, and poverty.

Think about that when you go to Ireland and drink glass after glass of Guinness beer.

The Misplaced Passport

I am never late. I arrive thirty minutes early for lunch, dinner dates, lectures, doctor’s appointments, and classes. I arrive at the airport two hours before my flight is scheduled to take off. I want to avoid possible traffic tickets, flat tires, traffic jams, and car accidents. Today I am thankful to arrive early.

My flight from Heathrow airport was scheduled to take off at 8:30 am.

I got a hotel near the airport. I had to check in three hours before because it was an International flight. I scheduled the hotel shuttle to pick me up at 5:00 am. I didn’t sleep well.

I am always afraid I will miss the plane.

The alarm blasted at 4:00 a.m. I got dressed and went to the lobby to wait for my ride. I packed my bag the night before. I checked the areas around the room to make sure I didn’t leave anything behind and I felt confident everything was stored in my backpack and carry on lugage. I turned in my keys and waited for the shuttle to arrive. It was a fifteen-minute ride to the airport.

Upon arriving at the airport I unzipped my backpack to retrieve my passport. It wasn’t there. I kept it in a pouch that is thief resistant. That is what the advertisement said. I went into a panic attack. I opened up my suitcase which was locked. I located the key, unlocked the suitcase, and unzipped the entire bag and set it on the floor. There were a few people who looked at me as if I were crazy. I was crazy. What would I do if I couldn’t find my passport? Would I be delayed? How would I prove I was a US citizen? I would have to stay in London until I got a new passport. Maybe they would detain me. Would they put me in jail? My eyes filled with tears.

I took out all of my clothes and laid them on the unoccupied seats. I put my hand in all of the pockets. I unzipped every pocket of the bag. Nothing. I proceeded to pack my bag again. People were staring at me. I wonder what they thought. What is this crazy lady looking for? I zipped up my bag and locked it.  What do I do now?

I dumped the contents of my backpack on the seat. I put my hand in every single pocket once again. Nothing. I couldn’t find my passport. I sat down and took and deep breath. I prayed to God and asked Sumio to tell me where it was. I reached over to my bag and gave it one last go over. I stuck my hand in the front pocket and there it was. Why was it there? I never put my passport in that pocket.

I cried. The people around me were relieved. I looked up and smiled. They smiled back. I thanked God and Sumio and went on my way clutching on to my passport never letting it out of my sight again.

The departure schedule with my flight number was not available yet. I rushed towards the gate where it might take off. A young man was sitting there with his cell phone in his hand.

I asked him “Are you catching the flight to Chicago?”


“Do you know the departure gate for the flight?”

“They don’t post until thirty minutes before the departure time. It will be one of these gates.”

“Thank you.”

My stomach was growling. I hadn’t eaten anything all morning. I located a coffee shop and ordered a coffee and scone. The scone was dry and the coffee was bitter.

There was nothing more to worry about. It was now the pilot’s responsibility to get me to Chicago.

I checked my bag one more time and grabbed on to my passport. I was safe!

A Cow at Rhine Falls

Cow at the Rhine Falls, Switzerland
I’m a very shiny brown
Have black chipped horns
And a black nose with a white stripe around it
I sit posed with my legs bended back
I am kneelingI never move
A little boy 5 years old runs up to me and sits down on my back
“Take my picture” he pleads to his parents in Swiss German
His parents take out their camera and snap a couple of pictures
His mother hugs him in the picture
He gets off, and they go on their way
Another little boy approaches with much more vigor.
He climbs all over and ends up on top of my horns
He can’t sit still long enough for the picture
His parents aim the camera while he continues to wiggle around
Not sure what the picture will show
Dogs are barking. They are on vacation too
Not sure what language they are barking in.
A woman in her fifties wearing a midnight blue sweater
Puts her arms around me and her husband snaps a picture
A young woman with a baby sits down pushing the carriage back and forth
Her baby is napping
Her husband snaps a picture and takes a phone callI never get angry
I am very patient
I am frozen in time
I am made of plastic 

A girl in a pink shirt sits down
Calls her mom and little sister to sit with her
Her father takes a selfie with his stick
I don’t move
I continue to stare ahead
Why do people crawl all over me
I am hungry
Why can’t I move
Frozen in time
People heading back to their buses
A Buddhist monk walks by in an orange cloak
He sits on a bench
Children scream
Are they hungry? Tired?
Little girls
Cute poses
I endure
A few feet from me lies a black and white cow
He is being poked by a two-year-old
His mom urges him to take her hand
No, he wants to sit on the cow a little bit longer
He begins to cry
A man with a black turban sits with his son
He also wears a small black head cover
His wife stands by wearing a long white dress and sun glasses
The little boy sits on the horns
He is eating ice cream
Waiting for a ride
“My head hurts,” says the cow
Can you get off my head, please?
His bag hangs on my horns
The bus is ready to leave
His father urges him to board the bus
It will be leaving soon
Two little boys are sliding down my nose
They are hugging me and squeezing my earsThe people board the bus

I now have a few moments to myself  before the next tourists come