What is a writer to do in Ireland? That’s a loaded question. Everything about Ireland insists a story must be told. My first hair-raising experience started with a car…steering wheel on the wrong side of the vehicle…driving on the wrong side of the road…in the middle of Dublin! Enough said? Oh no. I must regale you with the sheer terror of that first ride.
It all started with one little word, ‘wait’. My husband didn’t want to wait. He didn’t want to let what was called a NeverLost GPS that would be forever tainted in our minds as The AlwaysLost GPS search out our destination. He just wanted to get to our first stop, the bed and breakfast on the south side of Dublin.
The GPS managed to die, restart, have trouble finding a signal, and send us into an eternal loop of roundabouts.
Road signs flashed past us. Ones we didn’t understand. There were triangles and Gaelic words painted on the roads, even faded here and there so you didn’t know what you were to do. The road names hid along the sides of buildings on the second story, too small or dirty to read. Some roads didn’t even have names. Zigzag marks here, criss cross lines there. Stop lights were arranged in the medians and along the sidewalks, not overhead as in the U.S. Turn lanes in odd directions. People walking and crossing everywhere.
It was exhilarating and pee-your-pants scary! Then the rain pelted down for a mere five minutes. Then is was sunny and clear again for ten minutes. Like a beautiful dance the rain came and went: sun, clouds, rain, sun, in a rhythm unique to Ireland.
And the roundabouts: those circles that send roads in different directions without the need for stop lights. They were everywhere. EVERYWHERE. First exit stay in the left lane. Cross the roundabout (second exit), get in the right lane. Turn right (third exit). Shoot here, go there, squeeze between two cars.
Roads narrowed down to barely one lane, twisted by time and rock walls. Eeking around corners, hoping no one was in the opposite lane, left my knuckles white.
Zoom, zoom, zoom. Until we reached the bed and breakfast. 2 1/2 hours later. We fell onto the bed in sheer exhaustion and joy that we had conquered our first road trip through a distant land.
Yes, you heard me correctly. A 38 minute trip took 2 1/2 hours. Oh, but that’s another story.