Wednesday, August 08, 2007


OK. If I ever travel with my family again I'm doing the planning. It's not going to be negotiable.

The rest of the gang is at the pub. Google 'Doolin' and you'll find that the village is famous for its three pubs, and is a center of traditional music. What you won't realize is that is
all that Doolin has: three pubs. C'est tout. No grocery, no stores, no atm or bank. It has three pubs, packed jeek to jowl with tourists come to soak in the traditional atmosphere. And technically, two of the three pubs aren't even in Doolin, they're in Roadford a few km up the road. And technically, we aren't even in Roadford, but a long hike up the road and down another in Oughtdarra (which is more fun to say than Roadford or Doolin). Oughtdarra is famous for its four thatched roof cottages - which is about fifty percent of the total number of houses in Oughtdarra.

It's beautiful and all, and the days have been great, but I'm facing another long night of sitting in a pub with no escape and ... I couldn't be more bored. And I'm stuck, because I can't get my brother to add my name to the car without a fight & there's nowhere within an hours drive to rent another. Sure I'm kicking myself, because I almost did rent one in Dublin (for the price we're paying for our SUV we could have each rented our own, dangit) & I was talked out of it.

Let's back up. Last I logged in I was stranded in the rain, and the internet shop was due to close in ten minutes. I had already scouted the town, and there were no vacancies, not even a manger. There are plenty of cattle and sheep here, but they must sleep in the elements because I didn't see a barn or garage or any open space with an overhang. Ireland imports its rain from Iceland, and I was looking at a long miserable 29km walk to the next town.

I had stopped in the pub we were supposed to meet it ... and I wasn't impressed. There were a few guys playing music in the corner, and it might have been beautiful except that the bar was so packed there was nowhere to walk, much less sit down and enjoy it. I found a stool outside against a wall, and claimed it. My neighbors were a couple of NYC students studying at the Yeats School of Poetry up in Sligo, and they might have been cool, but we were separated by a very drunk older white dread and his very pregnant teenage girlfriend. She stared out at the world with a dull bovine look, while he bored us (bored me, actually; the NYC kids were young enough to be amused) with a long story about a movie where the Terminator got pregnant. When he saw I was reading a book by Murakami he picked it up & squealed Mu-Ra-KAMEE! Hee-ya! Then he did a little kung-fu chop with his dry leathery arms. I couldn't even pretend to like him.

Later he pulled out a
bodhrán and entertained us with the international standard hippy beat: thump. thump. tha-thump. thump. thump. thump. thump. thump.

Hippies all think they have rhythm, and none of them ever do.

And I knew that I had fallen from grace, that Jah had abandonned me, and that I would get no help at this bar.

I managed to hitch a ride with the internet cafe manager, who I will donate all my karma to when I pass on. He knew the cottages in Oughtdarra, and drove me out when the shift was over. I had learned from the cottages' landlady (hours away in some real city) that my uncle had arrived, but that the rest had missed their flight. In the middle of the night we got to the cottages, but all was dark. I rang the bell, but knew that that would be useless as my uncle is deaf & probably turned off his hearing aid to sleep.

So we picked the lock. There are some benefits to being Irish. I helped myself to his whiskey (another benefit to being Irish) and passed out.

I woke up the next morning to an empty house, miles from anywhere. My uncle hasn't seen me since I started growing my hair out & grew a beard. He saw me sleeping, didn't know who I was, and so grabbed his passport and wallet & ran.

So. Stranded again.

I almost walked town, but the rest of 'em arrived in the early afternoon. I couldn't quite stay angry, as I had a warm bed after a close call, and so was feeling pretty good.

So, here are the days: Our cottage is nice. It's far down a side road, in deep country. Jeff and Tim and I broke into a castle our first day, and explored that (technically, Jeff broke in and Tim and I followed). Two days ago we all climbed the cliffs up into the burren behind the cottage, and explored some of the ruins up there. It's a spare, rocky landscape dotted with neolithic, medieval, and more recent ruins. It was also covered in wildflowers, and was absolutely spectacular. Yesterday Uncle Bob dropped Dad, Jeff and I off in Ballyvaughan, and we walked cross-country the 18km back to the cottages. Another stunning day. We had to climb two mountains en route, so my legs are feeling pretty good. Today we all (except Jeff and Tim) tried to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands, missed the ferry, and so drove to the Cliifs of Moher and Enis to explore them.

All good.

But now it's night (sort of - it's 9:30pm and the sun is just getting ready to set), and I'd be fine with a pint, or two ... but each night has turned into a bit of an ordeal (for me) as I just ... don't ... give a shit about these pubs in Doolin. We've passed through a lot of towns with pubs, and I'm willing to bet that all are just as 'traditional' as these three are - they're just not in the book.

Tomorrow it's the islands. Tomorrow daytime I'll be in a better mood. Just at the moment I'm feeling stuck. Again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel for you - Dawn