Sunday, May 15, 2011

Walking the Streets of Dublin on the Nakba (The Catastrophe)

Leaving my Hostel this morning it is important to note that not all Hostels are created equal.  I was rather impressed by this Hostel, as any Fanny Trekker should be.  It had rooms that fit up to 16 people and was cheap as could be expected.  Plus the Internet and coffee were free.  Although, you have to wake up in time for the free breakfast to get some and I didn't make it back until nearly 4:00 AM.  I slept until a nice woman awoke me to ask if I was staying on.  I said no, and she said; “Then get out.”  The Hostel was connected to a coffee shop called The Bald Batista.  I ordered an Americano was asked; “Large or Bigger.” I responded; “Small.”  With a smile he explained that on Sundays everyone is generally nursing a hangover and wants a large coffee.  I told him that when I'm nursing a hangover, all I want is more beer.  We then discussed trains and the countryside of Ireland and he gave me some advice.  It wasn't until leaving that I realized the name of the Cafe and saw the sign for The Bald Batista with a drawing of his bald head and a cup of steaming Joe.  Although I doubt anyone in Europe calls it Joe. 

The Queen will be in Dublin on Wednesday, but I wanted to spend the week in the countryside before returning to see the havoc that her presence will cause.  No Monarch has visited Ireland since the 1916 revolution.  She's coming to make amends for some massacre that happened at a football stadium in 1911.  A bunch of Black and Tan English Mercenaries opened fire on a football practice at the biggest stadium in Dublin.  Everyone here is really pissed that she's coming, and I've actually been told with a wink and a nod to avoid Dublin on Wednesday because of possible bombs.  All the more reason to be there I say.

I was walking away from the cafe looking for a train station to head out of town when I came across a lovely park.  Trees and ponds, birds and statues, the park was alive with families on a Sunday stroll.  At the entrance to the park was a huge archway.  I generally read arches and statues of any kind.  This one was distracting though because of the Palestinian protest for the anniversary of the Nakba.  The day Israel attacked the Palestinian's people and drove them from their land.  I stood with them, a group of 30 men, women, and children.  Mostly Irish, they had a scattering of people from Arab and Palestinian descent.  Soon after I arrived and began standing in solidarity, we began to march.  While marching I met a Palestinian man in his late 20's.  He had immigrated to Dublin from Gaza a year before.  He told me of living in Gaza and of living through Operation Cast Led on New Year's Eve in 2008/2009.  We talked about world impressions, and those of Americans regarding the Middle East, of drugs and opiates that keep people from caring or learning more of atrocities, and the media that provides ready distractions, of AIPAC, and other corruption in political systems.  Suddenly the crowd started chanting.  FREE, FREE PALESTINE, FREE, FREE PALESTINE... FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE... Then head scarves were being placed over faces by many of the Palestinian men and women, and I realized we had been marching to the Israeli embassy in Dublin.  I had been handed a flag, and started taking photos (I'll share later).  When we reached the embassy there were another 20 people already standing there, mostly Palestinian, and they held a large 20 foot Palestinian flag.  The chanting continued and increased in volume.  We were well supervised at this point by around 20 officers circling us on the street.  Horns of passing cars were honking constantly, and many stopped to join us.  The protest was allowed to make its statement on this anniversary of The Catastrophe.  I stayed with them in solidarity for some-time before continuing on to find my train.  I also had to piss and refill myself with more Guinness. 

I prefer countryside towns to cities generally.  I enjoy being greeted openly and feeling comfortable asking about people’s lives.  But when in a capital like Dublin, the chance of finding these amazingly powerful events randomly is awe inspiring, to be able to join a group in a walk through town for a just cause, and to thank them afterward for their promotion of awareness.  I drink to them today, and all the people of Palestine, on the day of the Nakba.

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