Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ireland: "Stuff your eyes with wonder..."

"Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories."
 ~ Ray Bradbury

I have to apologize to my devoted readers, both of you, for the long break between updates. I promise it won't happen again until the next time it happens.

According to my notes and photos, I was in Nepal recently. Wow - that must have been trippy. That was just a month ago, if you're into that whole "calendar thing" - you linear thinkers you. Jen and I flew from Kathmandu to Delhi and on to London, via Virgin Atlantic. We weren't anywhere near finishing the movie list when they made us get off the plane, ignoring our protestations. We were welcomed by our friend Jane in Brighton for two nights before picking up my van that had been stored in a barn for the winter. The van started immediately, happily enough, and the terrarium-on-wheels adventure began. It's been raining. A lot.

Most people have Delhi Belly when they're IN Delhi, but Jen thought it would be more fun to have it in England and Ireland - poor thing. She's just now getting her energy back and I won't even go into the whole stool-test details, cuz, really, who needs it? She's glad she's feeling better. Me too.

We took the car ferry from Wales to Ireland two and a half weeks ago. Along with the photos below there's a map with our approximate route. Yesterday we booked our next ferry, leaving July 10 from Rosslare, Ireland to Cherbourg, France. We'll make tracks for the south of France, where our first meditation-ish event starts on July 14.

Too much love,
Dave (and Jen)

p.s. I forgot to say that my big camera isn't working at all, and my small camera is only working at full wide-angle. Most of these photos are with Jen's camera, and some of them were taken by Jen. Lovely human, that Jen...

Fishing from the high cliffs, County Clare. (Map)

Some of our angelic hosts, top-left and around: Jane (who I met in India in 2000) makes us dinner; Janie (who we met at the leprosy volunteer project this year) invited us to a village fest celebrating the Queen's 60th year in office; Keith (who I also met in India in 2000) and I share a Guinness; Lynn's son Lucca (who Jen knows from Portland, now lives in Dublin, Ireland.) Me to Lucca: "I remember rubbing your head just like this when you were a baby!" Lucca: "But you said you never met me before." Me: "Oh, right. It must have been two other people."

Salisbury Cathedral.

Wonky windows? No - a window reflected in the water, Salisbury Cathedral.

Salisbury Cathedral.

Stonehenge! I was a little surprised/disappointed to find out that some of the main stones had been put back in place around 1970. (Why do I care?)

Wells Cathedral, with its famous "scissor arches" that were put into place after the building starting sinking soon after it was built. I wrote about this last year.

Enjoying a 3D movie on a rainy day. OK, not much enjoyment - the movie was "Prometheus." I had enough disdain for the whole theater.

The famous 2,000 year-old Roman baths in Bath, England. (wiki article) We met lovely Rosie in line and she quickly invited us to visit her when we came to Ireland, which we did! She lives just south of Belfast on a farm.

This looks familiar. This might be Bath. (OK - I checked. It is.)

This is the view from inside the van at a campsite in Wales. There are famous caves here, and Jen is looking at the substantial pig that is part of the local menagerie - plus llamas, donkeys, horses, sheep...

Hey - we're in Ireland. Just off the boat in Rosslare, at this point I introduced myself to a guy walking his dog. "You're the first Irishman we've met!" He says, "But I'm not Irish." Me: "Well, it's too late, I've already shaken your hand. You'll have to do."

Some of the nicest grave-diggers you'd ever want to meet. They were burying an "Irish Traveler," which is too fascinating of a topic to discuss briefly. More later, me hopes.

This grave, according to our sources, cost over $200,000.

The van is peeking out behind the trees. We spent the night at a beautiful abbey, and the caretaker took care of us, made us tea, and talked our ears off. Delightful.

These mounds are part of the 5,000 year-old Newgrange site, making it 500 years older the pyramids of Giza and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge.

This is the internal passage at the mound in Knowth, just next to Newgrange. Some of the original passages haven't been modified at all since they were built. Wow.

Rosie, who we met in Bath, took us to the local parade. We're now in Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., unlike the Republic of Ireland, which is decidedly not. Most of this area was in the grips of the "troubles" as they're called, the long fight between factions wanting to remain part of the U.K. and others (like the IRA) wanting a united Ireland. These bands are all Protestant (while the Republic is largely Catholic) and have a controversial history, which you can read about here. Rosie showed us buildings that had been bombed back in the day, and talked about the death threats her father received, both against him and his oldest son, who was expected to take over his businesses.

Jen took this lovely pic.

Near Giant's Causeway, this bridge was originally used by salmon fishermen.

The beautiful and rugged coastline near Giant's Causeway.

Giant's Causeway.

This lovely red-haired blue-eyed beauty was filming a music video. Unfortunately we didn't get her name.

Another view of the Causeway.

Further down the coast, a stunning ruin of a castle.

A brief respite from the rain.

Wildflowers growing along the cliffs.

Jen and I never get tired of these rugged cliffs along the coast.

Drama! We took the ferry from here to small Arranmore island and spent a few hours poking around.

More rugged beauty on Arranmore.

The amazing Slieve League area, where we wild camped for the night.

Our first night of looking for Irish pub music - in the city of Galway, County Galway.

Galway is a beautiful place, but it's also a college town, and the partying crowds reminded us of how much we're not in college.

Famous houses in Galway.

This monument was built on a small little road, commemorating a young kid who died here.

This is called Poulnabrone dolmen, known as a portal tomb, and is 4,000 to 5,000 years old. More info here.

Near the portal tomb, and in this entire area, crazy rock formations have weathered over the millenia to leave this rocky landscape.

It's possible that Jen and I are from different planets - in many ways - but for now let's talk height. I'm 17 inches taller. She can just stand up in the van with the lid closed. I can't.

Just a ruin. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along...

Jen and I are from the same planet when it comes to hanging our feet over crazy-high places. These next few pics are from the Cliffs of Moher.

Jen and Sven, from Germany, are laying flat on a cliff that is literally straight down, about 700 feet. Sven rode his bike here from Germany, and is on his way, by bike, to Norway. He's already ridden on one trip to Pakistan, and another, for two years, through Africa to the Ivory Coast. Hard core.

You'd have time to think about it if you fell off. How long does it take to fall 700 feet??

More of Moher.

Jen and I camped about 100 yards from here. In the morning we were so excited to see a dolphin swimming in the little bay where the ferries dock, and it just got better. This wild dolphin, named Dusty, is a female that loves human contact. She only comes when people are around, and when there's different groups trying to get her attention, she makes sure everyone gets some of her time. She even plays with toys, including two bottles attached with a piece of rope that she'll retrieve like a Labrador Retriever. I took a video of Jen petting her and playing fetch with her. So cool!

These are all pictures of where we've wild camped in Ireland. In two and a half weeks we've only stayed in campgrounds two nights.

Here's a rough map of what we've driven so far. You can click this link for the interactive map: Right now we're in the spectacular Dingle peninsula and taking the sound advice of my cousin: "Avoid the dingleberries!"

(The End)