Try to imagine being born in the middle of a conflict. A conflict rooted in a deeply chaotic history characterized by shootings, bombs and thousands and thousands of deaths.
Pretty soon, you will learn not to walk into the “wrong areas'' or pass thepeace-walls. On the other side of the walls, you are classified as a terrorist or beingcompared to Isis. You will grow up hearing the same detailed story of the war aseveryone else around you. The only truth you will know is the terrible things your grandparents suffered from, caused by the people less than 500 yards away.
Year after year the segregation is continuing and here we are in 2022. People are still living in a divided Northern Ireland, scarred by unsolved conflicts that took place decades ago. A memorable trip to say the least, as a young Swedish student from Gunilla!
Knock Knock..."Goodmorning starboard! It's seven o'clock and breakfast is ready in a quarter of an hour" you heard from the doorway of cabin nine from an - to this day unknown - rondman from the midship watch. The second day of the visit in Belfast, and so far the city had definitely impressed us. All the recommendations about good second hand shops and tasty restaurants made everyone want to discover more.
Even though it was time for my watch to stay on board and work, we were allowed to leave the boat with the rest of the group to go on a guided tour in the city. Once everyone was changed and the lunch box was packed, we started the walk towards the center with high expectations.
Once we arrived at the meeting point, the class was divided into two groups. Each group started with one of the two guides, one Catholic and one Protestant. As the tour went by, we noticed that the two parts of the city felt like two completely different countries. On the Catholic side you could see Irish flags in the gardens and memorial sites with tributes to soldiers from the IRA. But once you passed the peace wall the streets were full of Union Jacks and memorials sites that would compare the IRA to terrorist groups. In addition, both of the guides had fought for their own side in the late 20th century and had spent a number
of years in prison. A lot to take in, to say the least.
In no time we arrived home to Gunilla with a lot to discuss. Everything from how it might be to live in Belfast, to how the two sides differ from each other. Now only two hours of work on deck remained before we were allowed to retire to our beds and rest.
This was definitely an eventful day!