Sunday was rough for me. I spent so much time and energy on Friday and Saturday charging around Liverpool and so much energy swooning over everything Fab Four-related that I woke up very late.
The lady hosting me via Airbnb, Carol, was so sweet. She asked if I wanted to go out for a coffee and, of course, I said “yes”. I thought we would walk or take a short drive to a little local pub. Nope, she took me to a hotel where a wedding reception happened to be occurring.
Apparently, it was Scottish as there were men in kilts with the traditional stockings and leg ties around the calves. There was also one cute little boy dressed similarly.
The hotel dripped England. Two ladies were having a “tea” which I found out includes more than just tea. The waitress brought a three-level tray of delicacies with finger sandwiches on the bottom tier, cakes next and then scones. When I saw that a traditional English “tea” meant PASTRIES, I decided that I will also have one–eventually.
The hotel was very proper. Of course, with everyone speaking in a British accent, it only enhanced the atmosphere. The grounds were gorgeous and it was a very nice way to have a coffee.
Afterward, Carol took me to Little Neston and Parkgate. Little Neston was a beautiful little English town, very traditional and very quaint. Parkgate is located on along a bay that used to flood quite regularly. But, with the silt accumulation, the bay is about a mile or two out farther. Occasionally, it still floods.
Now the silt has created an estuary and bird sanctuary. We stopped for “an ice cream” and enjoyed the atmosphere with people strolling along the sanctuary, walking dogs. The buildings were all maintained in their original architecture.
Turns out that Carol, too, is an adoptee and she was very interested in hearing my story. She has already read the Prologue and First Chapter of This is My Lemonade from my website. I was flattered.
After Parkgate, Carol dropped me off at Hoolton Station and I caught the train into Liverpool. It was mid-afternoon and I had wanted to get to the museums at Albert Docks. I had stated earlier that the Dock area has been completely refurbished and is well worth a visit. One can easily spend two days there viewing everything.
This particular day I wanted to see the museums featuring the Lusitania and the Titanic along with the Slavery Museum. All the museums are in the same building and they are free of charge!
I started with the Lusitania. The museum was quite thorough in explaining everything regarding its history and sinking, along with World Wars I and II. Unfortunately, I got started so late that I had to hurry through because it was closing at 5:00 p.m.
The museum also had an exhibit about the trafficking of children. Such a thing has been going on for centuries and many children were shipped through Liverpool to English colonies. Some of the children were actual orphans, others were orphans by a convenient law at the time which stated that any child that couldn’t be cared for (or any other excuse they could conjure up) was an orphan.
Because of this “definition”, the nation saw fit to send these children to the English colonies to provide labor and help populate the regions as they became adults. This type of behavior continued will into the twentieth century. To this day there are still people seeking the families from which they were torn.
On Monday (today) I got up and first purchased my bus ticket back to Manchester for Tuesday so I could catch my plane for Munich at 9:50 Tuesday morning. After a scarfing down two large slices of pizza from an American pizza kiosk, I hightailed it for the museums.
My main goal was to see the Slavery Museum. Carol, my hostess, had told me it was fantastic. She was absolutely right. After reading Alex Haley’s Roots earlier this year, the museum served as an underlining moment with a definite exclamation point to the issue of slavery.
I have to say that my experience at this museum was as moving as my experience at Auschwitz. There were times I felt weak in the knees, when my stomach was churning. Slavery has been chronicled over and over but, for some reason, this museum captivated me.
Perhaps it’s because Liverpool became the center of the African slave trade. I was standing on sacred ground where millions of Africans were traded, tortured and herded like cattle onto the slave ships. They endured wretched conditions for weeks before landing in the Americas.
Mortality was high and the shipping companies couldn’t understand why it was so. The Africans were crammed into tiny areas where they slept in their own feces, urine and vomit. The stench and the atmosphere were so vile and their experience so horrific that some committed suicide. Others fought and tried to overtake the ships and were cruelly tortured for it.
The museum made some very good points about how Europeans feel they “discovered” the New World when it was already populated with functioning, content societies. It also commented on how the Europeans saw the populations of Africa and the Americas as savages who needed saving from their primitive, pagan ways, which justified colonization and slavery. Yet, the Europeans didn’t consider them human…
The slavery museum continued on with the history of civil rights for Africans in Europe and America. Even though I’ve read all this information before, it is crucial to be reminded of it. And being in the area where all this cruelty was perpetrated on other cultures in the name of commerce and, most wretchedly, in the Name of God, was piercing.
Even though the day was somber, it was memorable. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…it is imperative that museums and exhibits like this not only exist, but be visited. Our world is not a Disneyland. It’s full of wretched atrocities and it’s only by reminders that we can hopefully prevent more atrocities in the future against anyone.
Tomorrow I catch the bus for Munich and Wednesday catch a flight for Lviv. Packing in as much as possible before I return home in two and a half months.