The Irish: Sure aren’t we great

It’s always nice to be noticed.

And if you haven’t done anything worth noticing, then it is always nice for someone with the same passport as you to be noticed – and then to take credit for their achievements.

It’s hardly controversial to say that Irish people enjoy indulging in a bit of vicarious gratification.

Like the time great Irishman Muhammad Ali paid a visit to his ancestral home of Ennis in County Clare:

I have been in Colombia for less than 36 hours, and have already been informed that us (the plain people of Ireland) are of particular interest in Colombia at the moment, due to the monumental ceasefire declaration earlier this week by Colombian guerrillas FARC, and the parallels this situation has with the Irish peace process and the IRA laying down their arms.

Fair play to the lads! (The Colombians I mean, not the FARC or the IRA.)

All of this is according to Alejandro, the bearded and bespectacled self-proclaimed socialist manning the reception desk at the hostel I am staying in.

I may be biased, but it didn’t seem like flattery.

We even had this discussion:

Alejandro: ‘Who is the man, the man who was in the ey-ra (IRA) and is in the parliament? The leader?’

Me: ‘Gerry Adams? *Pause* Or, Geraldo Adams?’

Alejandro: ‘Yes… but you don’t have to translate the name’

It also turns out that for this peace deal to be approved, the Colombians will be indulging in that most Irish of pastimes: the referendum.

On 2 October the people here will head out and vote on whether or not to approve a peace deal agreed with the FARC, and the arguments for and against – at least on a superficial level – seem to bear some similarities to the arguments for negotiating with the IRA’s leadership 25 years ago.

From my limited understanding, it would seem to boil down to whether or not this is a concession to terrorism.

They even have ads.

Like this one, which sort of looks like it was made by someone using Microsoft Clipart: si a la paz

The messages ‘Sí a la paz’ translates as ‘Yes to the peace’.

Something tells me that the opposition campaign’s top line probably isn’t ‘No to the peace’.

Besides peace deals and referendums, much like Ireland, the weather here in Colombia is also a bit shit:

A picture of the rain taken on my backup phone's broken camera. Weather is normally a bit better I've been told.

A picture of the rain taken on my backup phone’s broken camera. Weather is normally a bit better I’ve been told.

On a more personal note, the 48 hours it took me to get here felt like biting down on a piece of Kit-Kat with the foil still stuck on it.

From Ilha Grande where I was staying before (a legitimately idyllic holiday island off the coast of Brazil) it took me a boat trip, an eight-hour bus ride, three flights and one-hour taxi to get where I am now.

It might be that I’m still tired from the trip and staying in an almost deserted hostel, but I’m definitely feeling a bit more of a culture shock.

Today it took me 20 minutes to buy a sim card, and a woman who was a customer in the shop when I first went in waited outside and came up to me afterwards and asked if I wanted her to introduce me to the the people of Medéllin and if she could be my guide.

That’s weird, right? Or maybe people are just nice.

We shall see.


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