During our stay in Sligo we work Monday thru Thursday at our placements. I wake up around 8:00 on these mornings and meet Sarah outside the apartment at 9:10. Our bus to Cregg house picks us up at 9:20, well that’s when its scheduled to arrive but we have discovered the Irish run on a more flexible schedule. Our bus driver, Vinny, keeps the bus lively and always gets a good American joke in for us. Vinny usually drops us off at Cregg House at 9:45 and I make my way to the Dochas room. The service users slowly arrive until 10:00 and start on their “work.” Most of the service users greet everyone with a hug when they arrive. While the service users start their work I make my rounds around the room to see if anyone needs help and chat with them while they work. At 10:30 we have a tea break, I help make and pass out everyone’s tea and coffee, and then have a cup of tea myself with the rest of the staff. Then the service users either go back to the room to continue their work or they may go for a bus spin or a walk around the property. Some mornings I go with a service user to their physical therapy session and on Thursdays I go to hydrotherapy at the pool with some of the service users.
At noon the service users go to lunch and they all take another cup of tea with their lunch. I help at lunch by cutting food, getting utensils or napkins, or just by interacting with the service users while they eat. At 1:00 I have my lunch break with Sarah, usually followed by a cup of tea or coffee for myself. We eat in the cafeteria, and in Ireland lunch is their big meal of the day. They always have mash potatoes and cabbage, and a couple of options for the main dish. The food is always delicious and I usually clean my plate. Sarah and I share stories from our morning and make plans for after work over our lunch and then head back to our rooms. The activity in the afternoon is always different; cookery, bingo, or bowling in the recreation room are common activities. The afternoon activity is always followed by yet another tea break. I already find myself craving the tea breaks; I’m not sure what I’m going to do without them when I go home. After tea the service users who live at Cregg House take a bus back to their houses. I wait with the other service users and help clean up the room until Vinny comes to take Sarah and I back to the apartment at 4:00.
Our afternoons always vary, some evenings we have group activities planned to explore different attractions around Sligo. One afternoon we hiked Knocknarea, the mountain that is said to have Queen Mauve’s tomb at the top, and another afternoon we went to Strandhill one of the beaches in Sligo and enjoyed the famous seaweed baths at Voya salon. If an activity isn’t planned for us we usually walk into town and shop at some of our favorite stores and grab a drink in a pub or café. Most of the cafes and pubs have Wi-Fi, so we can check in with friends and family back home. Some nights we stay in the pubs longer than others, and sometimes we stay out to enjoy the nightlife with the students in Sligo. We pack our days full of activities, but we like it that way. We can sleep when we are back in America.