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Today we took another hike. While I love my shoes (Nike Mary Janes) and they are perfect for walking the streets of Belfast, they are not designed for the rocky terrain of the Aran Islands. Neither am I.

Our guide, Donal, has a tendency to get quite creative with the truth. (read:he’s such a liar!) But in actuality, it was better that he told us it was a “bit” of a walk and not “an epic pilgrimage.” It was better that he said “fifteen minutes more” and not “prepare to walk another forty-five minutes, ladies & Jim” And truly better for him to say “just up the road” instead of “welcome to your Everest climb, I’m your Sherpa, Donal”…

Among the many topics of discussion on our way up to the highest elevation on Inis Mor and probably the entirety of the Aran Islands was Mt. Everest. A great debate over the location of this mountain ensued. In confirming my suspicions online, I discovered it is known in Chinese as “Holy Mother” …. Today’s climb could have been similarly named. With an exclamation point.

At first the walk was lovely. The sun made an unexpected appearance. The breeze felt oddly warm. But….after about 20 minutes, I wished we were back on the horse and trap (horse drawn carriage) we enjoyed is morning on our ride into kilronan. I longed for the comfort of a bed, or at least a place to put my feet up.

We saw assals and capallas (donkeys and horses) as well as cows (I keep thinking the girls will stop being so enchanted by cattle….not yet). I suppose they are less elusive than the seals we can only catch glimpses of. Legitimately though, the cows are cuter here.

By the grace of gaia alone we made it to the highest peak. I’m proud to say I climbed the rusty spiral stairs to the top of a defunct and somewhat dilapidated lighthouse. The trick is not looking down. And not getting Tetnus. By the time we made it to another fort (made of more rocks), I was pretty much done. When the opportunity presented itself to have the bus come get us, I encouraged us all to make it back on foot. What I was thinking, I can’t tell you.

I learned how to say “you only live once” (YOLO being our group motto, and all) in Gaelic. I would type it, but it would be horribly wrong. I’ll be sure to say it often upon my return.

Tonight we are slated to watch a movie (or, film as they call it… Or “filum”, realistically speaking) about the culture of the island, have a rousing and intellectual discussion. Then it is off to one of the island’s finest social centers.

Much to the shock and awe of us all, many of the girls have a bit of sunburn on their chests and cheeks. I have a tiny bit of a tan. I had planned after the epic hike to jump in the ocean. I was so HOT!! But dinner was ready, we moved along to the culture center and ate (I couldn’t eat much…all that activity really reduced my appetite). I guzzled two glasses of water. When it would have been possible to go swimming, my core temperature was down, as was my interest in 40 degree water.

I am thrilled to report that I had a hot shower this evening. I’ve had two Aleve and used Aspercream. I’m now going to tell two lies. Physical fitness is immaterial on this study abroad. And I regret a single minute of it.

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