Westport, Kiltimagh, Ballina
14th. Oh look what a nice font. [Note: This font was the standard on a computer that had no internet access at the time.]
I was going to "take it easy today," so I decided to climb the pilgrim’s trail up "Croagh Patrick," in other words Mount St. Patrick.. I can’t remember when I last did a trail this hard.
This mountain, with a small church on top, was where St. Patrick supposedly decided to turn Ireland catholic. Every year no less than 30,000 people (50,000 last year because it was sunny) start a hike from a nearby town, up to the very top of this mountain over a trail covered in medium-sized rocks. These are an absolute bitch to climb because they cover the path so thickly, that you slide back down all the time, resulting in the dreaded ‘3 steps forward 1 step back’ effect. The person I am staying with mentioned that some even do it barefoot, and a select few are crazy enough to do it on their damn knees. Personally I completely fail to see how anyone could pull that off, unless you are wielding industrial type kneecaps which would kind of defy the purpose of getting down on your knees in the first place.
Either way, it takes about 2 hours to get up there at a decent pace, and you are rewarded with a view of the neighbouring towns (if you’re lucky with the weather like I was) and the nagging thought that you should have gotten some breakfast before taking off.
But that’s… hardly the highlight of the day. Sure, the endophines get you high and the thin air makes you dizzy and you’re the king of the world once you reach the top, but I’m repeating myself. I mean this in the best way possible, but once you’ve seen one mountain from up close, they all look kind of alike.
No, the actual climax (dun dun dunn) came just this evening, staring into the fireplace.
The cottage I am staying in now, with a quite exraordinary man to say the least, is one of the smallest in an area of oversized houses. It’s… a home. 4 cats, 2 dogs, and all sorts of things on the wall that make you wonder who lived long enough to collect them all. And sitting here in silence for I think 2 hours flat, I came to notice, despite the feeling of dissolving in a world incomprehensibly big, how much at ease I was. In one sense I could hardly be further away from home, in another… I am home.
I thought I would be leaving all this baggage home. That rebirth would come almost effortlessly, in a completely new place, with new people, under a new name. The blossoming. But, here I am, still the same. Unchanged, if I would like to or not. And although frustrating, it brings a feeling of comfort. Like a turtle figuratively carrying its home along, I have my identity in my back pocket. It was a little naive to think I could start from scratch simply by drastically changing my surroundings, perhaps I should focus on coping with myself a little more. Concentrate on the little things. Like calling my friends.
One of the things I’ve been missing fiercely is the simple presence of a water tower.
Yes, a water tower. When you want water to be brought up to the second floor, you could install a pump. But that pump will only activate when you open your tap and the water pressure drops. So you get an initial burst of water, then nothing, and then another torrent as the pump automatically responds. If you’re lucky, the pump has the same capacity as the pipes and as long as no one else opens anything on the same network, you don’t get that same process over and over as the pump activates and deactivates repeatedly.
Understandably, they don’t feel like seeking out the highest mountain here just to plant a water tower on it. So… they install pumps. Water pressure is near zero where ever you go. Taking a shower is a tedious wait until you get wet, taps give about just enough to use for your toothbrush. As a metter of fact, showers have their own little electric pump that seems to heat the water simultaneously. Small and cheap, they overheat easily and when you turn the water off and on again without thinking, you are treated to a gentle spray of water so damn cold it yanks your nads straight up with your kidneys. Sonovabitch do I hate this system.
Back on Tara hill we were introduced to a strange kind of fuel, that seems to consist of little more than dry mud. They call it turf and it’s actually a premature sort of coal, dead vegetation that never quite rotted fully and had stacked up on the bottom for a few thousands of years. Hardly sustainable, was my first thought, but the guy in question said "There’s a lot of it."
Looking around now, I realize that he said this with a rather dry feeling for understatement. The whole of Ireland is covered in this junk. It is commercially squeezed into brickets and sold cheaply, and gives off a distinct smell that I will probably fondly remember for the rest of my life.
The soil is very poor here however, and I can’t help but wonder where all this turf comes from. It just seems to stick to the rocks, covering whole bogs and meadows with a kind of silly tuft of grass on top. There’s no real earth underneath, only stone. It almost appears like this stuff is brought with the wind and has slid down the mountains over time. Ireland, covered in fuel. Curious.
Anyhow. Off to a place called Roosky tomorrow. My host is so kind to take me halfway there, and I think the rest should’t be so hard to do. I already made my hitch hiking sign, following the tips on hitchwiki.com or whatever and adding ‘please’ at the end.
Cute huh? I thought so.
I’m nearing the northern coast of Ireland, and I really don’t feel like following it to North Ireland. I think I’m going back to Dublin after this, catch a boat, go north through England to Scotland, grab a boat in Edinburgh to Norway and move on from there. Of course, all this providing that I don’t get turned around or find a better place to go to. Someone convince me to go to Iceland, instead.
I think I’ve pretty much seen as much of Ireland as I wanted to.
On that note, I noticed I’m beginning to dislike the Irish accent as I’m getting to know it. Unlike my friends as far as I know of, I was never particularly fond of it and maybe it’s just the west coast, but it’s just starting to sound like ugly English to me. I am beginning to feel the pain of the elders, who see their traditional Irish language fade away to make place for this half-assed kind of dialect. Or maybe I’m way off.
16th of January, feels like 2 years later once again.
I didn’t get to post my previous entry, as my host’s connection failed. So I copied the html code on my memory stick and pasted it here. NERD. That’s why the font thing made no sense to you.
The last few days were… trying. I was supposed to hitch hike over to Roosky from Westpot, which I did, only to discover that Apparently there is more than one Roosky in Ireland. There are in fact 4, and the cross-section with a house on either side, a 7km walk through rain and wind away from civilization, WAS NOT IT. It had gotten dark by then, but a local who was just passing by was so graceful to pick me up. I ended up in some shithole named Kiltimagh (I swear I am not making this up) with one and only one B&B there, charging €50 per night.
Okay, I thought. For €50 I will be put to bed in a palace with a man called Clyde standing by my bed to hold it for me during midnight bathroom breaks. I’ll make the most of it and get a good night’s rest so I am fresh and bushy-tailed for the emergency distance I would be covering the next day unprepared.
But nooo. As I was the only one there, this greedy cow didn’t even bother put the heating on an acceptable power. Even hot water was too much to ask for. It was the first real bed I had seen in quite a while, and yet it was the worst night in far longer. And not in the least because, under 4 layers of blankets, I was freezing.
Things like this wear me out in no time at all. Under physical stress I feel alive, but this kind of situation drains me completely before you can say "homocide". The frustration builds up and kills my mood. The whole world can fuck off. When asked to sign the guestbook, I simply put "Can we go home now?" and closed it before the woman was back. It was the most subtle thing I could come up with, but I do hope she got the hint. All in all it was friendlier than "I had better without spending a cent – yesterday."
After a difficult start the next morning, I eventually made it to a charming town called Ballina. The place here is somewhat dirtier and less um, disinfected than most I’ve seen recently, and that is probably why I took a liking to it. The outskirts, where I’m staying, are a little upper class to my taste, but I’m not going to complain about it.
I’m sleeping with a single-parent family of 3 and like they tend to, it has had a few strange effects on me. First of all, I feel exceptionally comfortable with the mother. Is it because she is from the mainland, that she is roughly my age, or that she has the tendency to overthink like I have, I’ll leave that in the middle. I know what it’s not: She is not a mother figure to me. There’s no mistaking on that part, the difference is more than obvious to me.
To the point, please? When I was going to bed last night (I slept quite literally with the dog as my sudden arrival made things a little overcrowded) I passed by the children’s room. Now let me tell you I don’t like children. I don’t dislike them, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t have that "Oh My God It’s A Babeeee" reflex that the whole world seems to have, judging me as heartless because I don’t. And if I did have that tendency, I would suppress it. There.
Where was I. Passing by the open doorway, I saw the daughter in bed. She’s tiny. With my limited experience with children I am a poor estimate at ages, but she’s just learning to read and write. A miniature, in a miniature bed. It stopped me dead in my tracks.
I’m no father figure. I do have a guard dog complex for those I care about that are physically weaker then me, but that’s where it ends. Still, this pile of blanket and pyjama with this teeny girl sleeping in its embrace, was… heartwarming. Suddenly this whole hype around children made a little more sense, and a parent’s love for his kids was all the more understandable.
Now let’s not make a fuss about this.
Welp, This was Ireland as far as I’m concerned. Tomorrow I’m going to try and make it back to Dublin, and decide where to go from there. However I’m not sure if that kind of distance is a wise thing to undertake on a weekend. If I get stuck, I get stuck bad. So yeah, why not.
Thanks to all who sent their support. It’s absolutely great hearing from you.
I didn’t bring the cable for my camera so I’m a little stuck with my pictures until I find a computer that can take memory cards up the slot. I am eager to do so because although they aren’t that great at all, some of them still give me a chuckle. You’ll get the joke when you see them. I think.