An excerpt from An Irish Road Trip ’08
The Players: Colin and myself
Location: Strandhill, Ireland
The Irish Surf
So it was a Monday. The onslaught of a hail storm attacking Colin’s windshield jerked me out of my slumber in a truly disagreeable fashion. Wide-eyed and confused I slowly examined my surroundings as angry balls of ice slammed onto and off of the red station wagon. Strangely relieved, I snuggled back into the reclined passenger seat hoping to doze off again while waiting for Colin and his Real estate agent to finish their meeting.
Strandhill breaks outside Sligo, Ireland
I wasn’t too crazy about the prospect of getting into the ocean with the air temp at the level it was and I figured a fairly ferocious hail storm would definitely cancel the outing. I, of course, was wrong; and an hour later I found myself shivering and pants-less in a windy seaside parking lot as I awkwardly tried to squeeze myself into a damp rubber suit.
The changing weather patterns between rain, hail, and sunshine all held onto the same constant control variable: a bitter, piercing wind whisking off the seas surface. It was miserable and accompanied by an almost queasy feeling in my stomach which was obviously telling me that my body did not think this was a good idea. To be honest my mind was right there as well, but I have a history of doing seemingly ridiculous things for nothing more than the story. And what the hell, now I can tell people I have been surfing in Ireland.
Low and behold, the shivering that was on the verge of uncontrollable ceased to be as soon as I was suited up. Surely the cool, winter ocean will have something to say about that. But as I followed Colin past the first set of breaks and eventually became completely submerged the only feeling I could identify was exhilaration. The water almost felt warm!
That West Irish Coast
Now conditions weren’t the best, and I was pretty rusty, even so poor Colin peered on with a part inquisitive, part worried look as I struggled through the torrent waters. My 2 year hiatus from surfing had me looking more like a retarded seal floundering helplessly through the breakers than a human trying to catch a wave. But in between sets, as I sat on my board and peered at the majestic Irish cliffs to my left and the vast Atlantic Ocean to my right, I couldn’t help but think, “It’s going to be a good day…”
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 8:33 am. Add a comment
An excerpt from An Irish Road Trip ’08
The Players: Fernando and myself
The Location: Outside Sligo, Ireland
Colin's Irish chickens only speak Irish...
Another Small World Story
Mid afternoon was still feeding us some pretty erratic weather as Fernando and I chilled in Colin´s living room bullshitting about Argentina. Fernando, a born Porteño (native of Buenos Aires), was a mountain of information for me as I would be moving to the ‘Paris of South America’ in less than a week. We both happened to be taking advantage of that famous Irish hospitality at the same time: my new Argentine friend was crashing with Colin for a couple of nights before he moved into his new place, while I was freeloading at my old buddy’s digs for a night or three while touring around the Emerald Isle.
During the routine ‘getting to know you’ bullshit that strangers seem obligated to engage in upon introduction, Fernando curiously asked where I´d be living in Bs. As. I had arranged a home-stay with an Argentine family for my first month in the city, but not being familiar with the area wasn’t exactly sure where it was. Having nothing else to do, I rummaged through my mess of luggage and eventually found the crumbled paper that would lead me to my future dwelling. It read: Azcuénaga 227, 1B, Once. Thinking my Spanish held at least a little functionality, I forced Fernando to endure my grotesque pronunciation until his face had creased into an undeniable state of confusion. Finally accepting defeat, I surrendered the location over to Fernando to make out on his own. His face instantly opened up in a display of delighted surprise as he pulled out his Argentine ID and tossed it into my lap. He had grown up but a few blocks from where I would be living and proceeded to fill me in on some of the subtleties of the neighborhood – most importantly the correct pronunciation of Azcuénaga.
Soaking up as much as possible from the fountain of advice spraying my way, it took a
Colin's quaint little cottage
couple minutes before it dawned on both of us what a peculiar coincidence sparked the conversation. Colin’s cottage resides 15 minutes or so outside the small Irish city of Sligo on a sleepy, unmarked road in rural Ireland – basically the middle of absolutely no where – real close to East Bumble if you’re familiar. I’m randomly visiting Colin, an Irish amigo I had worked with at a pub in New Zealand 2 years previous, en route to my ultimate destination of Argentina. It just so happens Fernando, who currently works with Colin, is in-between houses at the same time of my visit and needs a place to crash for a couple nights. Of course he grew up down the street from where I’d be living in Buenos Aires, a mega-city with a population of 13+ million. As immense as our planet can seem at times, it never ceases to amaze me how small of a world it really is.
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 8:09 am. Add a comment
Benbulben Mountain outside Sligo, Ireland
An excerpt from An Irish Road Trip ’08
The Players: Just me in some solo action
Location: Benbulben Mountain, Ireland
Benbulben: the tabletop mountain that inspired the likes of famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats and the setting of resonant Irish history and folklore the same. My favorite story is that of Diarmaid and the wild boar of Benbulben. They ended up killing each other atop the extraordinary peak, which has to suck for Diarmaid – meeting your end at the hands of a bear, or tiger or shark might be kinda cool to tell your buddies in heaven, but a pig…”What are you in for?” – “Oh, I got stuck by a pig”…has to be demeaning, doesn’t it? But I digress…
Finding the starting point was a little tricky as what should have took 10 minutes took me about an hour and a half in my sporty Toyota Yaris – but the sun was shining and getting lost in the foothills along the west coast of Ireland isn’t a bad gig in itself.
The Toyota Yaris soakin up that Irish sunshine
Eventually the road ran out and I could only assume this is where the walk up Benbulben would begin. The sun had begun to lose its luster under the cover of some fairly nasty clouds, but the optimist in me said that they were no big deal. So I trotted onward grabbing glances here and there at the coast which unfolded behind me.
The first rain-hale-snow mix came in quick and caught me a bit off guard as an icy projectile collided with my cheekbone – luckily the episode only lasted 2-3 minutes. So you’d think the next 5-6 wintery downfalls that followed the first would be enough call it a day. On the contrary, it was actually pretty cool trudging on through them. I was getting the total package as first the wind would pick up, then those treacherous dark clouds would rush to the piste of Benbulben, the hale was usually next, followed by a nice snowy-rain conglomeration lasting about 5 minutes at a time – after which that brilliant Irish sunset would force its way back to view. The full range of weather conditions repeated over and over again was such a strange phenomenon to me that I couldn’t help but to soak it all up – both literally and figuratively.
Atop Benbulbin, a true travel gem...
From the top you could easily spot the menacing cloud clusters flying in from the Atlantic. The dark skies would crash into Benbulben and continue on past with no sign of slowing down. In the distance, the sunset nonchalantly painted an awe-inspiring skyline as it thrust brilliant rays through the oncoming clouds in varying directions. It’s too bad because it doesn’t seem to happen too often these days,
Irish Countryside in all its glory
but as I stood there quietly – all by my lonesome for the first time since leaving home – all my worries seemed to fade away. All those feelings of anxiety, stress, nervousness, regret, obligation, and fear that have the tendency to lurk on the edge of consciousness and weigh down our daily lives completely fell off the top of that peak. It had been quite the Monday, and right there, in that moment overlooking Yeats County, I felt completely content with my time and place in the world.
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 9:14 am. Add a comment
You got a fun travel story? Tell me about it…
Posted 3 years, 10 months ago at 4:01 am. Add a comment
I haven’t been, I want to go, I need to go. Have you been? Tell me about it and let me live vicariously through you…
Posted 3 years, 10 months ago at 3:58 am. 1 comment