Saturday, March 16, 2013


Remind me (or don't since you probably won't have to) to look into minimum wage, unemployment rates, and cost of living for Dingle and the surrounding area. If we were to open a pub/B&B/Sheep farm, this seems like a great place to do it. We could be the place that all the locals send the Anerican tourists "looking for an authentic Irish experience" to keep them from crowding the places where the locals like to hang out. I could even do my best Irish accent and the Anericans wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
I have absolutely fallen in love with the Dingle peninsula... which is unfortunate because the twelve year old boy in me still wants to snicker every time I say Dingle. We met an older couple last night who are from Washington D.C., but spend about half of their time in Ireland, and most if their time in Ireland is spent in Dingle. In talking about Slae Head Drive, they told us, "It's about a one hour drive if you don't stop, but you want to allow for at least two." I think it took us closer to four... Mostly for the same reasons that this entry could just as well be titled "Jacøb takes pictures of rocks and sheep while Erika stays warm in the car." The benefit of being the driver is that you can stop to take pictures of whatever you want to.
We saw what our tour book told us is the far western edge of Europe and, in fact, by all appearances, it may well have been the western edge of the world. Soft green and gold sloping hills veined with an irregular geometry of stone walls on the right side of the valley were met and echoed by the gradual slopes on the left. The only note able difference between the slopes to left and right was that where one set would crest and roll, leading off to more hills or valleys, the others ended abruptly and dropped off into the emerald blue waves, as though perhaps phantom hills still remained on the other side of the salty mist, where the ghosts of long dead sheep and farmers may wander through eternity beyond space and time. I wonder how it must have looked when these hills were complete, when the nearby Blasket Islands and Skellig Michael were part of the landmass. Was there a time when these hills sloped peacefully down to meet the sea, or have they always been such strong opposing forces?
More than any place we have yet been, this peninsula hurts to leave so quickly. It has sunk it's roots deep into me, and I pray continually that I will soon be able to repay the favor. We plan to save up, and return in 2018, but I'm not sure that I can last that long.

We stayed at Greenmount and Pax Houses here on upper John Street (so named, I think, because everyone running a Bed & Breakfast here seems to be named John), both of which are wonderful. I don't think either proprietor has taken me seriously when I said I'd trade places if they wanted to take a break and go to San Diego, or that I hoped to be their competitor soon. I regret not bringing copies of my résumé like I'd talked about. Not that it would have got me a new job, but I might have built contacts, in case we ever do move over here.

I have not done spectacularly well at abiding by all of my own rules of travel. I'm getting better though. The rules (more like guidelines, really), at least what I have so far, are:
1) Seek adventure.
2) Avoid the familiar (particularly when it comes to food and lodging... Unless you are familiar with the local specialty).
3) Fear no conversation.
4) Eat or drink at any pub, bar, or restaurant which bears your name (first, last, maiden, mother's maiden name, grandmother's maiden name if you wish).
5) Take it slowly.
6) Try to blend in.
7) Don't be afraid to look like a tourist when you don't know where you're going.
8) Get lost.
9) Eat, drink, and shop local.
10) Relax.
11) Document it to remember it better.

This list may need to be added to or honed, and I will keep working to perfect it. Obviously, there are items on the list that are easy for me, but not for Erika, and some that are the opposite... but I think we are working on that.
I am not good about starting, joining, or maintaining conversations. Erika is much better. Today, when we went into a local bar/hardware store/bicycle repair shop and a local man (are they called Dinglers Dinglites?) named Kevin started talking to me, despite the fact that I really was interested in getting to know him, and hearing what he had to say, there was a fight within me to keep from cutting the conversation short. Fortunately, Erika returned from the ladies room and by the time I came back from my trip to the restroom, they had a conversation in full swing, which took us from family to farming, to pubs, to locals and tourists, to pubs, to church (which took us back to pubs), to Saint Patrick's Day, and many other topics. When I told him where I thought my family might be from, he called me "a mean Cavan bastard" (which I like. I might put it on a t-shirt), when I told him I want to move here and start a pub, and raise sheep, he told me everything he knew on both subjects. If not for my wife, whose gifts are different than my own, I would miss out on much of what makes life full... and for that I am more grateful than I may ever be able to show.

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