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07 May 2005

and those destined for greatness

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it's always difficult leaving a place that you like. i liked galway and i liked the hostel and it was raining. so it was difficult.

the man i'd spoken to at the hostel in doolin the night before told me that they didn't accept credit cards and that i'd need to pay with cash. he also told me that doolin wasn't blessed with an atm. thank you for letting me know. i was almost out of cash and would need to make a withdrawl in galway before i left. i found my way over to the bus station... my first time there (as you might recall from an earlier entry the bus on which i arrived dropped us off just out of town due to an extensive traffic situation). the cash i had in my pocket just barely covered the cost of the ticket which was much more expensive than i'd have guessed, especially for a trip to nearby doolin.

over to the atm. insufficient funds. blah. try again. insufficient funds. blick. then i remembered that i'd used my free hostel internet access in excess to pay some bills online and that i'd most likely need to transfer some more money over from my savings account into my checking account. blick and blah, i'd need internet access. i checked my watch... the bus wasn't leaving until 10:30am... it was about 10am... i needed the money. in mission mode, i double timed it back over to my old hostel and sitting outside the front door, i thieved their open wifi access. i was in and out in five minutes; they didn't even know i was there. POW! i double timed back over to the bus station and arrived with time to spare. in total, i quadrupled timed this mission. that's four times to you and me. with time to spare, i say. damn, i'm good.

i saw this sign waiting for the bus to arrive. rather than towing a vehicle illegally parked in the bus stands thus allowing the buses to utilize that parking space, the authorities will wheel clamp your sorry ass. yep, they'll clamp you right there and then and the buses will drive right the hell around you with everyone laughing and pointing until you pay your 50 pounds. seemed to me that towing would have made more sense. maybe towing is illegal in ireland?

the bus finally came... i loaded up THE in the storage compartments on the side of the bus. after loading three quarters of my material life here and now into a storage compartment, i watch the doors of said storage compartment until they close. it will be a sorry day for he or she who thinks they can snag my THE and run off before the bus leaves. i'm waiting for you. i am. waiting. for. you. POW!

another of the i.really.want.to.fall.asleep.but.i'll.stay.awake.because.i.don't.want.to.miss.an.inch.of.scenery bus rides. track track track and i'm there.

the bus dropped me off almost right at the front door of the hostel... and i'll rush through the part where i met karl and he was incredibly nice and showed me all the best parts of the hostel (including the _free_ washing machine) because i want to get to _this_, the view out the hostel window. the morning rain had disappeared and a glorious sun was shining. SHINING. like one of those suns drawn by a five year old with the rays alternating short and long. SHINING. with only the slightest texturing of clouds which gives depth to the sky the kind that no one minds. it was about 1pm and i'd intended to take a nap when i arrived, but how could i with a sun and a sky and a view and a shiny new town such as these? not possible. i knew better than to pass up a shiny sun in ireland. i shot up. i put my bed in order, strapped on my day pack, and found karl reclining in a seat right outside the front door. quick flash of a thought: i want to open a hostel and sit outside on a reclining chair soaking in the sun.

me: 'can i walk to the cliffs?'

karl: 'of course, they're only five miles away. you could be there in a couple of hours.'

i pointed to the road where i'd seen a sign directing the way to the cliffs of moher.

me: 'that way?'

karl: 'no, walk along this road here, bear left at the fork and go up the hill and then walk along the road.'

me: 'got it.'

karl: 'be careful of the fences if you don't have a strong heart.'

i assumed that meant some of the fences were electric.

me: 'got it. thanks.'

rock. sun shining and i was going to see some effing cliffs. i stopped in at the deli. the only deli, i believe, the doolin deli, and picked up a ham and cheese sandwich and a coke which i ate and drank before i got to the fence, careful to stash the plastic containers in my pack. 'caution. very dangerous cliffs ahead.' hell yeah. i live for dangerous cliffs. today anyway.

i walked on. the road curved away from the coast and i took a trail well worn from walking. it was my turn to see what those others had seen. within five minutes, within me deep down, a feeling of [a sound within my head a little like static], the feeling of... like the day was meant for me to be right there right then. where the ground just dropped away the dirt to rock and rock to water. there and gone, a falling. and i stopped and looked around and it was the best thing _ever_ and i smiled gigantically and said something outloud which i'll keep to myself. on and on and higher and more and more. water dripping down blown up by the wind. an ancient tower which i'd come back to explore at some point.

the road curved back around and i saw two others from my hostel making the same trek. i couldn't decide whether i wanted these moments only for myself or whether it was nice having someone there to hear my cries for help after i'd plunged over the edge of the ground and was hanging on to a failing plant root. and again the road curved away and began a fence very near the edge with only a few feet between it and the edge. i walked in the space between. directly on my right, the plunge downward. on my left, the fence, a something which almost directed me to the edge, which prevented me from quickly turning away from the drop. and at that point i remembered what karl had said... 'be careful of the fences if you don't have a strong heart.' the fence wasn't the electric kind and i wondered if karl was referring to the drop to death while walking along the fence. only those with strong hearts could tolerate the walk in the in between? i must have misinterpreted. i pressed on, giving the other two adequate time in front of me.

a curving of the earth inward and a giant sea cave. i got as close as i dared with thoughts of descending down along and into, but decided to continue walking to the site where were the cliffs of moher. the remaining stones of a building long abandoned and bright purple flowers here and there. again the water flying upward, the wind directed up the cliff faces grabbing ahold of each drop and throwing each back to the ground, such that small pools were created with water controlled and discarded, so it seemed.

i saw the tower in the distance which marked the landing place of the tourist buses, i guessed. i was almost there.

at points the in between became more narrow and i, despite my destiny of there and then, felt compelled to put the fence on my right. the cows were there and many springs streaming down to the edge without knowing about the wind... and my boots fell victim to them both. i wondered if an angry bull would try to chase me down. that would be a little fun, i thought.

forward and up and another sign 'extreme danger: cliff falls continuing'. not even for one second. forward and up, a tiny flatness tucked away and hidden along the trail. there, a monument for two who had perished. today was definitely not my time.

nearing the tower, i had to navigate a few fences. la la la. throw my pack over. climb climb. a hundred meters or so more. la la throw climb climb foot down [!!!ZZZAAAPPP POW!!!]. holy shit, what just happened? holy shit that fence was electric. WOW! so _that's_ what it feels like. was my heart still beating? yep. diagnostic check. everything green. holy shit, that fence was electric. man. i likened the feeling to standing stationary and being hit by a fast moving wall. wow. WOW! i walked on, still zipping. i turned around and saw the other two behind me. best to warn them... i walked back. i'd guess germany or austria from the accent; they understood my warning in english. ACHTUNG! don't touch that freaking wire... you'll trigger the fast moving wall.

one last fence before the tourist area... non-electric. i threw my pack over, climbed, and was there. the destination. i turned around and saw this sign. i'd been walking on private property apparently.

all of the people milling around and i smiled. they had arrived in buses and had walked the stairs to the tower. i had arrived there after a two hour hike and all of the sights and sounds and smells and electrified zaps that came with it. i felt like i had more. i walked down to and laid down and hung my head over the edge and there the wind was most powerful, with greater control over the water. absolute fairytale _magic_. the waves crashing beneath, shattering into a scattering of droplets, and those destined for greatness were picked up and levitated by the wind, slowly at first, then quickly, up and over the edge to crash with to me a tiny splash but to them a giant explosion on the flat dry dusty rock. with my head hung over the edge, i could see the process from the beginning to the end... could watch a single sparkling droplet manipulated magically. i wondered if anyone else was as amazed as i with the water. most seemed more concerned with the plunge to death. i tried, but couldn't capture the magic with my camera. i laid there for about thirty minutes watching the water fly.

in the distance, another tower. a must. i started walking. distances were very deceiving. fifteen minutes later i felt like i hadn't made much progress. a glance at my watch... yikes. i'd need a bit of my own magic to make it back to the hostel before the darkness. turn back? of course not, there was another tower in the distance and i was destined to be there. onward, over terrain which truly seemed lunar if not for the water; craters carved by maybe the wind, one certain one i could barely traverse, the wind deciding it preferred i wasn't there. i upzipped my jacket and held it open like wings. i couldn't measure the angle, but i was certainly not vertical.

on and on, it seemed only two of us, a man a few hundred meters in front of me and i, had decided to hike to the second tower. and then, there it was. i'd made it. we'd made it. a crumbling ruins of a tower. i looked around and was so happy. i was supposed to be at the second tower. mission accomplished, i began my way back along the same path.

i had had to use the bathroom for the entire second part of my hike and the waves crashing below weren't helping matters. should i wait? no. okay, no one around. the other man was far in front of me... lots of rocks around... i sought out some cover. okay, finally. ahhh... WHOA! the wind picked up and my pee, apparently destined for its own greatness, was levitated and was pushed _right back at me_. i swear i saw pee hovering right in front of my eyes. i pulled back hard and stopped. my pants had gotten a nice soaking... quick check... nothing else, just the pants. HAA! i laughed outloud. _so_ funny. such a strange experience... i swear, right in front of my eyes. now... the problem remained... i still had to go, now more than ever. i crouched down low to the ground figuring i could prevent a recurrence by decreasing the airtime. okay... wind has died down... second attempt. WHOA! more wind and again, levitated... right back into me... this time on my pants, my jacket, and all over my hands. HAA! i laughed again. this was absolutely ridiculous. okay, i'm a smart guy... i know i can figure out this problem. third attempt... i crouched _as low as i could get_... kneeling and bending, one hand balancing and one hand aiming, i think i was about an inch away from the grass. ahhhhh! SUCCESS! i stood up, zipped up, and continued on. the wind was blowing so hard that all evidence of my mishap was erased within five minutes. urine is sterile, correct?

trek trek back, i made it back to the first tower in about fifty minutes. well, exactly fifty minutes. i was timing myself. now, a decision. darkness was coming soon. should i try and hike along the cliffs hoping to make it back before the sun dropped, or should i hike along the road away from the plunge to death. decided the road was the best option. on the way out of the parking lot i saw on a bus schedule that a bus would be going my way but wouldn't be departing for an hour. wait or not? the walk back along the road was about two hours. hmm. all this way just to be driven home by _a bus_? no way. i wasn't going to go out like that. not by a bus. it's time to give it a shot... the thumb. first time.

i started walking, holding out my thumb as each car passed. i don't think i walked more than five minutes up the road before a car stopped. the nicest woman, an australian... not even driving her own car. her car had broken down that morning and the tow truck driver had leant her his car until hers was repaired. _wow_. i tracked a bit on the gps... told her where to turn... she dropped me off right in front of my hostel. _wow_.

i was at level 10 and the word exhausted was at about level 7. walked down to the doolin deli to pick up the backpacker's best friend: spaghetti. back in the hostel kitchen, i met and ate with tom from the bavarian region of germany. [hey tom!] really cool guy who decided to travel alone in true backpacker style and see ireland rather than join a group of friends on an organized tour in turkey.

most of the showers at the hostels leave something to be desired. the shower at the aille river hostel couldn't have been better. perfect pressure, perfect temperature, perfect perfect and clean. i spent the rest of the evening clean and toasty warm sitting in front of the wood (or in this case peat) burning stove, talking to supercool hostelites.

this day was absolutely perfect. THE MOST.

posted by paul at Sat 07 May 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (1)