Day 61

No sensory summary today because I think there’s enough sensory detail in the rest of the post.

Today was Laura’s birthday celebration, which effectively went for 14 hours! We left the apartment building at about half nine to go currach rowing. Currachs are the traditional canvas-bottomed Irish fishing rowboats, and there’s a Cork Currach Club that lets you row as a guest for ten euro. I liked it so much, I think I may become a member so I can row much more often for free.

The setup (and maybe breakdown) of the currachs probably took up half of the time actually spent out there. I estimate that we took out maybe ten? boats. Each has four rowers, and since we had plenty of guests (Laura and her eight members of the birthday crew) we had a passengers in each too.

I started out as a passenger, which was a nice way to see some of the city. It reminded me of sailing on the Baltimore Inner Harbor or taking a boat tour in Amsterdam. That made me feel at home– maybe part of what made me want to return. The people in the club were so kind too, another thing that made me feel so welcome.

Once I got the oars in my hand, I had a bit of a difficult time– hitting other people’s oars, hitting my own hands, coming close to hitting other boats and stuff. But as soon as I got the hang of it, it was over and time to dock to get coffee at a hotel nearby. I ordered a “popcorn hot chocolate,” which didn’t seem to actually have any popcorn in it but somehow tasted vaguely like it. But I drank it way too fast and of course ended up burning my tongue over and over. Yikes, I really need to let it recover.

We rowed back to the club, this time with me on the oars for much more, and I actually got well into the rhythm! But the distance from the hotel to the club felt quite short, and soon it was time to put away the boats. There’s a kind of dance that goes into setting up/breaking down the boats– gathering under the hull, simultaneous lifting, coordinating the flipping over, gathering the right set of oars.

Oh, and there were some lovely dogs there. Some of them actually went in the boat. I had the heartbreaking realization upon leaving the club (and a wiry black-and-white hound with beautiful amber eyes named Finnegan) that you can’t add dogs on Facebook and keep in touch with them over distance.

We tried calling certain restaurants for reservations for Laura’s birthday, and everything was booked up. I mean, with nine people on Jazz weekend calling the day of, it was a long shot. But luckily once we returned, we got a reservation at a pizzeria.

Erin and I made a caramel sauce to drown my chocolate-crusted apple pie in, but it was a recipe that neither of us were very used to and it required a lot of prodding and cajoling and editing before we got something vaguely resembling a sauce. And it still turned out more candy-ish than I would have preferred. I was feeling a little shoddy about this cake– the crust was cookie-ish and hard and neither flaky nor biscuity, the apples were chewier than I wanted them, and the sauce wasn’t creamy. But I was relieved when people said that they liked it; they even liked how the apples turned out. I have decided that pies will be my thing this year, even if it takes a damn lot of practice. Lack of food processor be damned! (“Aren’t we all food processors?” –Laura)

I actually got a good chunk of studying in, and a nice (although brief) chat with my friend Isabella. Then we met outside again to hit up dinner and jazz. The pizza place was fun and delicious, and I ended up being the pescetarian garbage disposal for leftovers.

We only really got to see one live jazz band– The Blues Brothers Banned at the Old Oak. They were quite the showmen, very fun to watch. They seemed to be all covers, some of which were phenomenal (like “Sell Out”) but some (like the medley at the end) were a little lukewarm. I saw two guys there in the audience with “Eendracht Crew” on their t-shirts, and I tapped one of the guys on the shoulder to tell them I had seen their ship earlier that day on the water. I’m not sure how much he understood (both because of noise level and possible language/dialect barriers), but it was cool and he responded with smiling.

After they left, we couldn’t really get in anywhere where there was still performers. I guess that’s the thing about a jazz festival– when there’s so much, there’s hardly any.

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