Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thus Far Chapter 3 Beyond Killarney

To be quite honest with you I barely know where to begin. Last week seems like forever ago. And I have been so many places, experienced so many things, and met so many people since my last blog that it has all become one fantastic always interesting and often heartfelt blur.  But let see if I can pick up where I left off.

Leaving Kilarney was certainly difficult. As I recall; there was a gentle mist falling across the village my last evening there so I pulled up the hood of my jacket, hunched my shoulders against the cold, and strolled around town one last time. Eventually I made my way down into the forest that sits quietly next to the town. I walked along the river listening to the sound of the water as it gently flowed across the rocks as I am sure it has done since who knows when. I wandered down the path and soon found myself slowly making my way out into an immense, green, open pasture where the full glory of Magillycuddy’s Reeks looked down over the valley, across the glen and seemingly, down to where I stood. 

I have to admit I definitely got emotional as I stood there looking across the prairie and up into the face of that distant purple mountain. I could feel the tears well up into my eyes and a lump grow uncontrollably in my throat. Those mountains had looked down over me during some of the most grueling moments in my life. It now sat stonily, watching over me, as if to say; finally you are a part of this place, a part of this planet, and a now a part of you will forever remain in Ireland. Moving forward was hard, looking back a must, as so many memories were made underneath that still mountain.

Anascaul: I decide to actually move from one place to the other the way normal people do…I caught the bus. I left Kilarney for a town called Anascaul just northeast of my next favorite town and future destination, Dingle. I stopped in Anascaul for one reason and one reason only; the strand at Inch. I had wanted to see the beach at Inch for years and I was certainly not disappointed. I stashed my gear at the “Randy Leprechaun,” who by the way was one shady character, (more on that later) and headed the 5 miles over the mountain pass (yes another freakin’ mountain), and down into Inch. I will have to say the view from the top of the pass was spectacular, the beach amazing, and the water cold as shit. 

Item number 3 crossed off the ole bucket list. Now, on my way back over the pass and back to the “Shady Leprechaun” as it came to be called, a little old lady named Mary stopped and offered me a lift back to town. Once again I found myself in a car literally rocketing down a small, narrow, gravel lane. I tried to make pleasant conversation with Mary, which was difficult to do whilst shitting one’s self. Mary, I found out, and from what I could understand through my terror stricken brain, was on her way to church and was I’m guessing from my years of experience and quick wit, running late. As I left the confines of the car, she told me she would pray for me and I do believe she actually smiled as she spun the tires, spitting rocks and gravel back at me as she left me standing on the side of the road with crap in my pants. Swear to goodness, true story; including the crap.

Now the hostel I was staying at in Anascaul had a very odd feel to it. When I awoke the next morning I met the only three other house guest in the hostel that night which happened to be three girls from Missouri; must be my week for Missourians, as two of my friends from Kilarney were from there. Anyway, as we spoke,we all began to share our thoughts about this fine establishment. We were all equally creeped-out by the front desk dude and when they offered to let us stay again that night but for free, get one night for ten bucks get the next night free, we all looked at each other wondering what the deal was and all of us trying not to bolt for the door right then and there. It wasn't long before my new friends had packed and were off with me hot on their trail. I opted to stand at the bus station in the pouring rain for an hour rather than stay one more second at the “Shady Leprechaun.” It’s pretty bad when you can’t even give away a free nights stay. Now that I think back on it; I remember wondering to myself while I was showering; why there were like twenty bottles of shampoo left behind on the shelf in the bathroom? Hmmmm…

Dingle: Dingle is just one of those places that has that something…special.  “Onomatopoeia.” A friend recently told me is a term that talent scouts use to denote “that something special.” Well to me…that is Dingle. Dingle represents friends to be made, music to be enjoyed, and a beauty to be seen that is unrivaled. It is a place where you can hear the sound of a child calling out across the quay, her falling footstep echoing across the pier as she runs down the dock aside her father’s ship, he, who had just returned from a day upon the sea. It is a place where music, hard work, laughter and Guinness all hold equal importance. There is a place in Dingle, right off the quay, along the narrow main road lined with colorful houses and shops, which pipes traditional Irish music out into the street. If you stand there, as I did, listening to the sweet lilting sound of ancient music, your nostrils filled with the smell of fish and the ever present aroma of the sea, stand there…you will not just see, but you will feel the majestic beauty of those things which have stood for centuries there; Hussie’s Follie, the Esk Tower and O'Connor’s Pass, and who keep watch over the harbor, its people, its heart. So, if you stand there…as I have, then you too will feel the aura known as Dingle. Simple things are often at the heart of life and it is those simple things, those times which often occur spontaneously which make life wonderful and interesting and beautiful. Dingle is simple in its own existence and breathes life into those who are fortunate enough to take the time to find it.

Now, I was fortunate enough to find a hostel that spoke quietly to me, as Dingle often does. In actuality I was planning on camping at another hostel on the edge of town but had decided just to check the rates in town and thus I came across what I would have to say was a hostel and proprietor that was quintessentially…Dingle. As I walked through the door I was greeted by my soon to be friend Chuck who was straight out of the 60’s. He wore round John Lennon glasses and a Jazz-type cap which he wore backwards and  his grey, semi-long hair, was tucked haphazardly behind his ears. 

After a quick smile and hello Chuck gave me the rates (outside of my budget) and then helped me ring the other hostel, yes they could accommodate my tent, and sent me off with directions down an old Irish boreen which would provide me with a nice scenic walk and get me there lickety-split. We parted ways, him smiling and laughing as he folded clean sheets for the beds and towels for the guests. I didn't even make it 4 blocks before I turned around. I rang the bell, asked if he missed me yet and we shared a good laugh as he ushered me back into the warmth of what would become my home for the next four days. I don’t want to say that Chuck gave me preferential treatment but, he did.  He gave me a private room for two nights for the price of a dorm room, let me put my hand washed clothes in the dryer, gave me my last night’s stay for a “tener,” let me drink the house milk out of the fridge, and kept me company on the porch, where he drank red wine and I cheap beer from the grocery store. Chuck was a wealth of information, a constant source of entertainment, and became my good friend. I guess for whatever reason I have a tendency to have that type of effect on people; I bring out the best in them and they, me. I’m not sure why. Onomatopoeia perhaps…

        Cloghane, Castlegregory and Camp…and Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My…

 Eventually I had to leave the home, friends and comfort that I had found in Dingle, and in particular at the Hide-out Hostel, and make my way towards Cloghane. I had two choices. Catch the bus EAST to Tra-Li and then transfer to a bus going WEST to my next destination. Or hitchhike over O'Connor’s Pass and be there in 30 minutes. Guess which one I chose and do not doubt for one second that 30 minutes turned into…well you’ll see. Off I went again to the edge of town where I was promptly picked up by Michael a really wonderful guy who admitted he hadn't picked up a hitchhiker in over fifteen years. There goes that damn Onomatopoeia again. Michael was on his way back to work from a holiday with his family and was just the coolest dude. Not only did he stop at the top of the pass to let me take pictures, offering to take mine with Dingle Bay shining in the back ground, he went out of his way, like in the opposition direction, to take me down into Cloghane right to the front door of the hostel. Thanks Michael, you are the salt of the earth my friend. I had, at the last moment, decide to go to a town called Cloghane instead of my original destination of Castlegregory. In hind sight it was stupid decision the first of many on this particular journey nestled in with several good one but those don’t really count at the time you’re making the stupid ones, now do they? First of all my trip thus far had been about hiking Kerry Way and part of Dingle Way which I did and was, in part, still doing. But once back in Kilarney my trip became more about pub crawling than mountain climbing, or mountain scurrying as I liked to call it. In order to gain some type of focus I decided in Kilarney to make the next part of this journey all about finding surfing in Ireland. So off I went, half cocked and raring for the adventure that would come with my search for surf and/or surfers. 

Although I went to Inch, a beach renowned for its small but consistent surf, there was none that day. However I did happen to catch a few pictures of a couple of surfers tucked neatly away in a hidden cove along Slea Head but my search began in earnest in Cloghane. I picked Cloghane as it was smack–dab in the middle of Brandon Bay and there was supposed to be surf in Brandon Bay. Well, no such luck; wrong part of the bay. I decided to leave Cloghane, sigh…but as good luck would have it the dude at the hostel was really cool, made a few phone calls, pointed me in the correct direction, gave me a lift back to the main road, and wished me happy trails. Okay now all I had to do was hitchhike over to Castlegregory right? Good luck with that the universe said. I shall cram this into the proverbial nutshell just to save time (and because I promised myself I would not go over 4 pages per Blog). I ended up walking the ten miles into Castlegregory where I found the hostel which, and you have to love this about these little towns, was also the pub and general store. The room and the people were awesome but that was it. There was no TV, internet, stove or microwave. No sweat. All I needed was a bed anyway. So, at one point I talked to a couple of surfers who were staying there…ah ha!!! A clue!! Where there are surfers and boards there are usually waves; me and my sharp wit at work once again. After getting some info from the surfers I met some really, really wonderful folks at the pub who wanted to take me home with them right then and there to the Caravan park that a guy named Brian owned and where my temporary new best buddy, Judy lived. Since I had booked in to the hostel already, I told them I would come down tomorrow and they could put me up and we would continue the drinking of their national brew, Guinness. Never make plans while you are drinking Guinness in Ireland as the details can often get lost amongst the laughter and Slainte! I never did get to hook back up with them, too bad to cause that Brian was as manly an Irishman as I had met to that point.  Anyway, I digress. The surfers had told me to go out to Maharees and if I was lucky there would be surf. Off the next morning I went hiking the 8 miles out to Mahrees and back and….no surf; flat as a pancake. Okay, no problem. I went back to the hostel, collected my things and again (this is getting to be a habit) marched out to the edge of town to hitch into Camp and possibly find some surf along the beach there. I actually found Brian’s Caravan Park, which he had told me to look for during the prior evenings shenanigans and had asked me to come for a visit. Well timing they say is everything as Brian had just left for the Pub 10 minutes before I arrived. Probably thinking that I was going to be a no show; boy did he under estimate me!! So I thought I might catch Judy but didn't know what time she got off of work. I hung around a bit, talked to some of the local trailer park dwellers, always interesting, and finally made the decision to pitch my tent along the beach and wait for morning to try to get into Tra-Li where I had decided I would purchase a bus pass to get to my next few destination. Well, I had a wonderful spot picked out nestled deep in the dunes of the beach under a solitary tree where I settled in to my 3 x 6, quaint and completely free accommodations and promptly fell asleep. 

Now here is where I want to remind you of several things. A) Remember the part in my last blog about the flying teeth? Yeah well midges like to vacation at the beach as well. Who knew?? And B) Remember back at the beginning of this a dude named Michael picked me up on his way to Tra-Li? Coulda been there two days ago…but noooo….I had to go to these other places to explore and experience “Ireland.” Silly me.  Remember a while back in another Blog I ended up hitchhiking all over hell's half acre to wind-up going to Kilarney in the end? Yeah well that’s what this whole experience was; a comedy of errors that took me…the long way 'round. But I have to admit it wouldn't be called an adventure if everything happened all neat and tidy now would it?? At any rate, I walked the three miles into Camp from my digs at the beach where I hope to find the bus to Tra-Li. Just missed it. Damn the luck. Next bus, three hours away, shit. I did what I do best. I made a sign, threw out my thumb and hoped for the best…come on Onomatopoeia (be a great name for a racehorse). So what happened you ask?? Well…I shit-you-not. A little old lady named…wait for it…Mary, swear to goodness, pulled up, on her way to….wait for it…church and ushered me into the car. I have to tell you in all honesty; this was not the second time, but the third time since I began hitchhiking across Ireland that an older woman named Mary while on her way to church picked me up and gave me a ride,each in turn telling me that they would pray for me as they drove away. The first I didn't end up writing about. The second time, back a few paragraphs, certainly made me think, but the third time??!! I was blown away. As fate would have it when I was a young child around eight or nine my grandmother gave me a ceramic bust of the Virgin Mary that I still have to this day. So for me “Mary” has always been a symbol of comfort and solace. For over forty years I have kept that statue with me and for the last 20 years it has been placed beside a picture of my children as a guardian so to speak. I always felt as long as she was there they would have someone to watch over them. So make what you will of this story my friends, as for me, I believe God was watching over my dumb-ass and from here on out I think I’ll listen to what he is telling me…and just take the bus.

1 comment:

  1. Well, THAT was for sure an adventure!!! Yup, they are not always fun, but ALWAYS adventurous! LOL Glad you are having a great time and that Our Blessed Mother seems to be watching over you! Kisses lil sis!