Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thus Far: Beyond Killarney Part III

  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.

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