(as in, the end of my trip, not the end of the country)
A Wee Bit O’ Ireland (Part III)
The best/worst/weirdest day ever in Ireland continues!
When last I wrote, I offered a very important travel tip: get proper car insurance. I never explained why, other than showing you pictures of the car I hit, so here is how the story gets worse.
I’d rather not go into the details about why I think it’s unjust we’ve been charged the entire €1750 deductible (Where’s the report on damages? Why am I 100% liable—where was the stop sign???) (Breathe. Serenity now.), but suffice it to say, euros, when converted to US dollars, come out to a very unhappy number. (Think: $2,317)
ALL OF THAT ASIDE, the worst part of this story is that I called my credit card company when I got back from my trip to see what their international policy is, and guess what I learned? They DO offer car rental insurance for Ireland (thanks, deceitful [yet good-looking] Enterprise guy), and they have NO deductible.
Pardon me while I dry heave.
Moving on: So there we were, trekking around the Dingle Peninsula, following the yellow man, and then, when we were sufficiently far from civilization, the yellow man disappeared.
The last we saw him was somewhere near the wild horses, and he pointed ambiguously straight ahead into what eventually became a fence. We could choose to go left, and walk alongside the ocean, or go right, and walk into a densely ungroomed field. I chose left.
When that didn’t work because “alongside the ocean” eventually became “on top of rocks without a beach,” Taryn ran back to the fence and took a right. I followed slowly and awkwardly behind because by this point, I had to pee, and the jarring from running made me nauseous. I thought about dropping trou while I was still in the middle of nowhere, but that, my friend, would have been a good idea, and I am strongly opposed to those.
We ended up walking through someone’s farmland, and we saw a person (!), a young lad, perhaps in his late teens. We called to him (ANOTHER PERSON! EUREKA!), and his response to us saying, “We’re lost,” was “You think?”
He was getting into his truck when Taryn and I asked for directions. We said we were parked near a restaurant that had a Guinness sign on the awning, which in Ireland is like saying we parked next to a telephone pole (“surely you know the one?”), BUT he said, “Was it a bar only? Or a restaurant?”
There were tables out front, so…a restaurant?
“Ah, okay. That’s a mile through this field, then two miles to your right once you hit the main road.”
Short story, we found the (only) restaurant and our car. Several times, out of desperation and cold sweats, I considered knocking on someone’s door to ask if I could use the bathroom. But I survived. Taryn treated us to crab legs, a gluten-free veggie sandwich, and fries, and for a moment there was bliss.
Then we headed toward Kerry. Our plan was to continue through the city and stay the night somewhere along the beginning of the Ring of Kerry. Well.
1. We couldn’t find a B&B on the outskirts of Kerry, and we started to panic.
2. We kept driving. We spotted a B&B, sudden stopped/reverse turned to inquire about it only to have no one answer the door. It was then that we realized it was 9:30pm [the sun was still out! we were confused] and we knew that soon it’d be too late to knock on people’s doors.
3. We panicked again.
4. We kept driving to Killorglin, and we finally found a B&B that let us in!
The Inn Keeper (God bless his soul) told Taryn and I there was live music in town, and when he mentioned locals (“they get a little…rowdy…but they’re harmless”) we quickly finished our p90x and got ready to hit the town.
When we walked into the “rowdy” pub that evening, everyone looked at us. Not in a “woo woo” sexy, cat-call kind of way, but in the “Oh, look. Tourists” kind of way, or possibly a “fresh meat” kind of way. The pub was small—a couple of bench tables where the band was playing and a couple of round tables toward the other end—and it was dimly lit. It appeared we were the youngest people in the bar, but this was exactly what we wanted: a place where we could talk to real Irish folk! (No offense to ‘merica, but we were getting tired of being hit on by New Yorkers while in Ireland.)
We were immediately greeted by an older, nearly toothless gent who was speaking in a language only remotely related to English. Much to my dismay, I am not as “Irish” savvy as I had hoped. (Irish is English, right? WRONG.) I had to ask this poor man to repeat himself after almost every sentence, and as we came to find out, he was the easiest person to understand. Taryn and I nursed our Jamesons for the entire evening while we enjoyed real Irish music and nodded and smiled a lot. Some of the things we understood were:
“Where are you from?”
“Are you visiting?”
“Are you looking for nice Irish bachelors?”
“My sons are over there. I’ll introduce you.”
And then he left, promising to return.
Meanwhile, there was heavy intoxication all around us. There was a guy of indeterminate age (40?) whose name I thought was Patty but was actually Pawdy (? I still don’t know), who was trying to convince Taryn and me to dance. He could barely stand up and looked as though he might vomit, so I’m not sure how dancing would have worked, but in order to prevent Taryn and I from fighting over the opportunity (“no, seriously, YOU go”), another guy flipped a coin—heads I go, tails Taryn goes. The coin bounced off my head and rolled under a table, and thankfully that was enough of a distraction to prevent the dance from occurring.
The original older gent returned without his “sons,” telling us they were shy, “just like me.”
I asked how many sons he had.
“Four. That I know of.”
Then he left again.
The next time he returned, he was accompanied by a young man who appeared to be in his 30’s, and behold! We could understand what this person was saying! He gave us tips for our trip (“the Ring of Kerry is boring; go to Cork instead”) and told us he’d never been north of Galway. I asked why his brother didn’t come over, and he gave a non-answer. I looked in the direction from whence he’d come, and there was a tall, dark-haired gentleman in the corner who was also decades younger than the rest of the people at the bar, and I assumed that was him. He never came over.
On our way out, we were stopped by “the other son”** Like the first, we could understand what he was saying (yay!), but unlike the first, I turned into a swooning teenage girl around him. Taryn played wingwoman by keeping the brother company, and Mr. O’Sullivan and I shared a lovely conversation until the bar closed, everyone left, and we were kicked out of the building.
**It was all a lie! They were not related.
One of my favorite parts of the night included Mr. O’ “helping” me to understand a fellow Irish native by translating what he said into make-believe Spanish. A man with stringy black hair and leathery skin came up to me and started speaking in a language that was a cross between mumbling and slurred mumbling. I silently pleaded with Mr. O’ to help me, and in response, Mr. O’ started speaking in synchrony with the man, saying things like “Yo quierro uno momento tu pantelones como te necesito por favor” etc. as though he were translating this man’s words into my native tongue. (New Mexico = Spanish)
That is not helpful!
Not to mention, my smiling and nodding didn’t appease the man with black hair because he was clearly waiting for an answer. He become more aggressive in his mumbling and kept pointing to his belt loops. He seemed to want to see if I had belt loops, so maybe he was trying to sell me a belt? Finally I pointed to my own belt loops, showed him I was not wearing a belt, and he went away.
Gracias, Mr. O’ Sullivan.
Shortly after the Spanish translation incident, the four of us were kicked out, and eventually had to say our goodbyes. Taryn and I were just shy of having been awake for 24 hours, and our B&B was calling to us, so I had to bid Mr. O’ farewell. I’m not good at talking about sentimental things without sounding cheesy [“It musta been the 4th of July because I saw fireworks!”], so I’ll let you use your PG-rated imagination. It was, at the very least, a lovely end to my otherwise awful day.
There must be a moral to that story somewhere, something about tragedy and beauty, but I’ll let you find it, mo chuisle.
And thus ends the Ireland trilogy. A happy ending, I think. Mr. O’Sullivan’s departing words to me, I give to you (minus the wonderful Irish accent):
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.