All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Leg #5 - Killarney

Well, my time here in Ireland has come to a close. It's hard to believe I've been here for 3 weeks. I love this country, these 2 countries and I am super glad I chose to spend my post service here.

So, for my last leg, I went a little bit south to Killarney. I didn't have the best start to my day. I don't know why but my iPod mysteriously emptied so when I got on the bus, I had nothing to listen to. Argh, alone with my thoughts. I was cranky and hungry and bored. Wah.
We stopped in Limerick at the halfway point and I got a coffee and a scone and I felt better. I grabbed my Kindle out of my backpack and climbed on bus #2 and read. The bus driver's ring tone was Guns-n-Roses and that made me giggle and lightened my mood. 
Killarney was a cute little town and I found the hostel with ease. It was family run so everyone was really friendly. I was so hungry that I was almost shaking. I wandered into town and found a place where I could get a hamburger. I spent some time back at the hostel relaxing but then again it was overrun by French kids again. Why can't I get away from these group trips? Ugh!
I dropped my stuff off in my room and then went out for dinner. All the pubs were really crowded already so I found this out of the way Indian place that was pretty empty. The food was DELICIOUS and the atmosphere was so delightfully peaceful. I ate a lot, it was super spicy, and I was very happy. It was an early night. I curled up in bed and watched the movie "Mud." (FANTASTIC movie, highly recommend.)
I slept really well and when I woke up, the other 6 people in my room had checked out.
Found a cute coffee place across the street and finished the book I started on the bus the day before. Dropped my stuff off at the hostel and asked the lady at the front desk for recommendations. She pulled out a map and showed me a pretty but simple walk around one of the nearby lakes at the top of the Ring of Kerry. I asked her how long of a walk it was and she said "about an hour." Cool, I can handle that. 
I walked down and the lake was super beautiful so I started to walk on the trail. When it broke off into the woods, I was a little confused as I didn't remember her mentioning it was an 'off-road' trail, but whatever. It was a 'one-way' trail which meant once you started, you couldn't turn back. It rained on and off. So...about 2 hours in, I started wondering if I was a super slow walker or what. So I asked a passer by and she pointed out the trail next to the one the girl at the hostel had pointed out. I said "oh...well, how long is this one?" She said "Um...maybe 18 kilometers?" (11 miles) I started laughing, almost maniacally. There was nothing I could do. I think she was scared a little and told me to head for the cottage. So I kept that in my head, the cottage, the cottage, I can make it to the cottage. Finally, I saw the cottage. They had coffee and sandwiches and water (most importantly) and I rested. Sigh. I had done it. I was very proud of myself. So I asked the lady who worked there what was the best way to get back into town and she looked at me strangely... 'You know this is the halfway point, right?" I think the color drained from my face. I was literally stuck and I had 10 more kilometers to walk. It was pouring rain at that point and I just had a hooded sweatshirt. So now, it was raining, but hot so I was still sweating and I had 10K to walk. The last "spot" i wanted to see on the walk was the Torc Waterfall. I finally made it to the Waterfall and took a photo. Only 3K to go. The last hour of my walk I was delirious, like those runners at the end of a marathon. I was walking in patterns to entertain myself, singing show tunes like a lunatic, talking to cows along the way, it really was quite ridiculous. During this delirium, I realized , this was the perfect metaphor for my Peace Corps service. Slowly, very slowly, I started to see civilization. And I made it back into town. I laughed at the ridiculousness of my day. I sat down at an Italian restaurant and ate a good hearty meal. Afterwards, it took me nearly 10 minutes to be able to stand up. My muscles were giving me a giant middle finger. By the grace of God, for some unknown reason, no one else checked into my hostel room that night. I took a long, hot shower and went to sleep. It was 7:30pm...
Here are some of the photos from my marathon walk...oh and the ONE photo I took of Torc Waterfall? Effing blurry...
Murphy's Sea Salt Ice Cream. DELICIOUS!

Two roads diverged...I took the one less traveled by...effing Robert Frost...

We had a lengthy conversation. Turns out, we're both Broadway fans.

I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in at 10:00 the next morning. A mere 14.5 hours later and I was all right. I was still pretty sore but functioning. So I took it easy. Walked around town briefly, did some souvenir shopping and ate...a few times. 
When I got back to the hostel, 3 huge Germans (only 1 was a dude) checked into the room. I didn't care, I was still sore. I fell asleep. During the night, I heard security banging on the door across the hall and he wound up kicking out 4 people. That was interesting. 
On my last day, I took a bus trip to the Dingle Peninsula (heh). It was a beautiful coastline drive. 
Inch Beach...on the Dingle Peninsula...yeah, I laughed too. TOO pretty though.

Downtown Dingle

We got back around 5 and I found dinner at a cute family restaurant. There were more people in my room now but I was still able to get to bed early. 
I woke up this morning with the intent on grabbing the 9:30am train to Dublin. It was pouring rain which made for a long walk. When I got to the train station they said it was double the price, the online discount wasn't applicable. What is this world coming to? Giving you discounts for not talking to people...ugh.
So I got a bus at 10, but it was NOT an express and it took nearly 6 hours to get here. I was happy listening to an audiobook until my iPod died at a crucial moment in the story. I found my hostel. It is already SO much better than the last time I was here. I really wish I had stayed here my first time in Dublin, maybe I would like this city more. I was able to meet up with another PCV, Tom, for dinner. He just arrived in Ireland and I'm just leaving. That's the way it goes. 
So, Ireland, it's been real. I've learned a lot and I've fallen more in love with this part of the world than I thought possible. Tomorrow, I fly to Iceland. That should be idea what to expect. 
More to come...

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