ANNASCAUL TO DINGLE
Finally a van pulled up, and Douglas let me in. He was in his late 50's or early 60's, and there was a dog in the back. I think he was a vet. He told me he had come to Ireland with his wife for a visit 10 years ago and never left. Let this be a warning to be careful when visiting Ireland. You might stay.
He took me about 10 miles down to the next stop, and I said good-bye.
I stood on a sparse hill that seemed to be in the middle of Nowhere. Or perhaps on the outskirts of Somewhere. There was a community centre to my left, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you where the community was that apparently required a center. I didn't mind, though, because I was able to find a bathroom next to an empty schoolhouse. I tell ya, nothing's finer than a toilet when you really need one.
I came out of the bathroom and began walking in the direction I wanted to go. The traffic was as sparse as the landscape.
Finally a nice, big, beige, expensive, old person's car slowed down. I introduced myself and Sylver said hello. I didn't get to talk to Sylver too much. Sylver didn't say too much, though he did have a pretty cool name. We mostly listened to Irish talk radio. Today people were complaining about the Irish airline Aer Lingus. Apparently, they had mistakenly posted prices on their website as being $10, and a bunch of people bought tickets and were now angry that they were asked to pay the correct price.
Perhaps I caught him on the wrong day, but he seemed to be one of those decent kind of folks who enjoys listening to people complaining about nothing. Sylver was a decent enough fellow. After all, he picked me up, and that says something. In any case, he took me to Dingle, which is where I was trying to go, and I was very thankful for him.
Dingle is a coastal town. There are a lot of tourists there, but for good reason: It's beautiful. I wish there were more words than 'beautiful' to describe beautiful things. I'm kind of tired of using it, but that's how many beautiful things I saw.
I found my way to the boardwalk and took it all in. Gulls flew overhead or sat one-legged upon the pier. The wind blew strong, and the sun came out for a moment here and there to illuminate the reds and blues of the old fishing boats. Slowly the clouds began to part as I walked along the docks. I found my way to a rocky quay to look out upon the ocean waters. I heard there was a dolphin named Fungie who has called this bay home since 1984. As I reached for my pipe and tobacco, I scanned the waters, but caught no sign of him. “Just how long do dolphins live, anyway?” I thought.
Struggling to keep my lighter going long enough to light my pipe, I crouched down against a rock until my pipeweed took flame. I stood and drew a puff at the pipe my father gave me. It fit my hand well, and the bowl felt warm against the ocean wind.
“I'm here.” I said quietly. “God has brought me here.”
There was more wind, a consistent sun, gulls adrift on the air, and the sounds of fishermen at work.
“God has brought me here.”
I sighed deeply. Life is incredible sometimes. All you have to do to notice just how incredible it is, is see something you haven't seen before. I'm sure the residents of Dingle don't wake up every morning in awe of the place in which they live. Well, maybe they do. I don't know. But perhaps if they came half way around the world and saw the California coast, they too would be reminded of the immensity of life.
I thought of my family. My father. My mother. My brother. A warmth refreshed me from the inside out. I strolled back down to the boardwalk and was greeted by a little black-and-white sheep dog. I was reminded of Dick The Salesman as I patted his head and said hello.
I walked on back to the main part and finally caught a glimpse of Fungie the Dolphin. He was playing around by the bench in front of the tourist centre. Well, at least a representation of him was. The life-sized bronze statue captured his plucky, dolphinious spirit perfectly.
Alas, my bags were getting heavier, so it was time to find my bed for the night.
As I walked into the tiny downtown area, I noticed just how many tourists were here. Gaudy looking middle-aged ladies in big sunglasses, pointing at things with confused looks. Husbands of the gaudy looking ladies who had been dressed by their wives. The town was bustling with, well, people like me. Of course, I mentally distanced myself from the other tourists as much as I could, but ultimately I was not a local. I was one of “them”.
Eventually, I was directed by one of the locals to check out The Grapevine hostel. I checked in, and unloaded my increasingly heavy backpack upon the bunk I was to sleep in that night. But of course, before the night was over, a pub would be on fire.
( I know. Cheap device to get you to come back and read more. Oh yes, and dolphins can live to be about 50 years old. A.A.)