Today was a lovely free day after so much intense work over the last few days – after we all had breakfast together and finished a big discussion about The Troubles and Bloody Sunday, everyone headed off to enjoy a bit of a break in the warm sunshine, a beautiful day! I went to the bus station to get tickets for the next leg of our journey in the morning – travel back to the Republic of Ireland to Galway and then, the Cliffs of Moher. I had previously found the Bus Éireann schedule online and knew that we needed to take bus 64 from the Foyle station in Derry leaving Derry at 9:15am and arriving in Galway at 2:45pm.
I walked the few minutes from our Bogside B&B to the bus station and encountered a bit of a shocking instance of discrimination – namely, the minute I asked questions about how much the tickets were from Derry to Galway, what payment method would be accepted, and which platform would we depart from, I was met with an icy blow off and no help whatsoever. A pity – I love Derry, but this Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland divide is just still so palpable here, despite numerous campaigns and peace efforts. Hatred and bigotry still run deep in some pockets here (on all sides), just as they do in the American south. I was shuffled back and forth between offices, scowled at and scolded for asking these questions. Didn’t I realize that Bus Éireann is not a Northern Ireland company? Didn’t I realize that they weren’t responsible for accommodating another company’s schedule? I was not deterred. I politely pressed that I had, in fact, seen the schedule online but simply wanted to inquire about the cost of the ticket, the platform and the method of payment required. I smiled. I waited. Finally, the same man who told me that he had no idea about anything to do with Bus Éireann (I had been sent on to him from a surly woman in the next room) walked over to the wall, huffed loudly, consulted a printed information sheet, and told me that the ticket cost would be either €21.50 or £21.50, cash. He said I could use either currency, that they were both the same. I replied that the pound was more expensive and I would be paying in euros. I smiled again, and asked what platform the bus would be leaving from. He sighed and told me the platform number. I thanked him and left. It gave me just a tiny, uncomfortable glimpse into the feeling of being situated on the opposite end of a power and privilege divide that has caused so much pain and suffering for so many.