Northern Ireland – Adventuring.
By Colleen Ferguson
My five-week adventure, with seven countries and a whole lot of coffee has begun. Before coming on this journey I knew little to nothing about Northern Ireland; while this may sound ignorant, it is true. We all have been taking the past few days to get to know Belfast through tours, exploring the city and as always, getting lost.
Today was the most eye-opening experience yet. At two o’clock all 21 of us piled into three taxis and we were off to take part in the Black Cab Tour. My first thought was that this was just simply a tour of the city, similar to the bus tour we did previously. I was taken back by the stories that our three drivers told us along the way.
They explained that part of Belfast is divided by ‘Peace Walls’ that separate the Nationalist and Loyalist communities. There are 17 walls, stretching 21 miles long. Since the 1970’s there has been high tension between the two groups and these walls serve as a barrier to keep the Protestants and the Catholics separate. Today, the wall is filled with murals and signatures including our own. So many people, like Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama, have come to Belfast and signed this wall wishing for peace between the two communities. The hope is that eventually the wall will be torn-down and the two neighborhoods will peacefully coexist. While so much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. As our driver explained, as the 12th of July comes closer, tensions are beginning to rise.
As the day draws to a close and I look back at what I have gained from this experience just in the past three days I can already say that I have become so much more aware not just of the culture of the people of Northern Ireland, but also of my own as an Irish Catholic.
Let the adventures continue.