I've been back in Paris one day. Oh man, so much has happened. But this first post will be about a tragedy that I just heard about. A tragedy, especially in light of the events that happened to me while on my trip...

Remember that lost/stolen digital camera episode? (How could you forget? I mention it practically every other sentence...)

Well, when I was in Ireland I went on this amazing trip up to Northern Ireland (or the North of Ireland for you "Republicans" out there) and visited Belfast. Such an amazing city, with a really intriguing and sad history and so much to offer. When I first arrived I walked straight into the "most bombed hotel in the UK and Ireland" to ask for information on the "black taxi cab tours"--a supposed (and definite) "must" while you're there. They take you into the key charged areas of the Irish Catholic/Ulster Protestant neighborhoods, show you the murals of their past and present--it really is amazing.

Anyway, you need a minimum of three people, or be willing to be 25 pounds for yourself. I was solo...and poor. So I walked all over town trying to find other people...trying to ask the tour offices about grouping me with some people. Nada...wasn't possible.

Okay, where's the nearest youth hostel, I asked..., and then I walked over.

In the lobby I saw two people, siddled up to the guy standing alone, about my age, who subsequently gave me an amazing smile...then I asked him if he were travelling with someone else (I figured the girl about six feet away getting info at the counter...damn tho, he was cute). He was, indeed, travelling with that girl and they were both interested in the tour I proposed since they too had got in late and missed the bus tour (my luck, per usual). So we all took the tour together. They kept thanking me about the suggestion...really they were awesome people.

I told them about my camera and my period of mourning...The guy had a beautiful Canon that he carried in a case, which he now positioned over his crotch for extra safety after I told him my story.

"If that happened to me, I would cry like a little baby," he said, full of sympathy.

They were great people--took pictures of me on the trip to send to me...

The tour itself was absolutely wonderful. Seriously the "must" it claims to be. The drivers are locals, usually one company has four Catholic, four Protestant drivers who try to be as objective as possible. Honestly though, I think my driver was way more Catholic biased because I was asking him a lot of questions to understand more specific details, nitty-gritty issues (hey, I read a 45 page historical account of the conflict on the bus ride up there...), and he was definitely taking the bait in some of them. What was also interesting to me was the fact that he sometimes just stopped explanations short, and if I hadn't asked a follow up question, he would have just left the issue. After my followup question he continued on for a good 20 minutes ...that's a lot, huh? We saw other awesome things like a big, entirely Catholic residential building that was used by the British army (only top three floors) so that they would be protected from the IRA...I learned about plastic vs. rubber bullets, the Northern Ireland government, so damn much. It was totally worth it.

After the tour we went to a famous local pub, I had Guinness beef pie with fries and an actual Guinness. Man, it was soooooooo good. Guinness really does taste different there.

Anyway, after the extremely satisfying (and satiating) meal, I said my goodbyes. They were going to Paris next and so we would be meeting up.

Which brings me to this morning. I received a call, 30 minutes ago. They're in Paris, they just got in last night.

"I think you might have jinxed us..." the guy starts off, on the phone..."On the train over my camera got stolen...so I can't send you the Belfast photos."

"But wasn't it on your crotch?!?!"

"Not on the train..."

I was so upset for them I was gonna start crying for their camera on the phone. Well, I didn't. I empathized with them. A lot. They'll be travelling through Europe for three months...I told them about the period of mourning...3-5 days should do it and told them to take it easy. The guy said he was doing a bit better, had already cried a bunch...but didn't know if he'd be in Paris that long because it now made him sad...we made tentative plans to all meet up Friday if they're still here.

My German friend commented that perhaps I'm the bad luck here (all in jest of course...), but honestly! I mean...I was going to get my pictures from them too, now those are gone (though I can hardly feel it as a personal loss since they lost their camera)...Someone up there doesn't want me getting my pictures.

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