Got up early this morning to start packing up the hotel room. Thomas still congested but, on the advice of one of Erin’s cousins who is an MD, we stopped into town last night to pick up some off-the-shelf meds to soothe Tom’s sore throat. It seems to help and, hopefully, we can avert a journey into Ireland’s medical system.
At the rental agency, we opted for a Volks Touran, a slightly larger model, since we have quite a bit of luggage. It was a good choice…a diesel model which gets almost 1,000 km per tank of “petrol”, as they say here.
Opting for the coast road instead of the motorway, our first stop was on a slight roadside cliff which offered a spectacular view of the Irish Sea. Thomas, in urgent need of voiding his bladder, was tossed off the side of the cliff to relieve himself. As his escort, I held on to him but not before suffering some minor scrapes from some kind of vines that was clinging to the stone fence on the edge of the sidewalk.
Further down the road, we weaved our way through villages and towns, most roads being barely wide enough to accommodate two cars (many weren’t). Vegetation is so thick here that there is no shoulder on most roads except motorways. When meeting an oncoming vehicle, I habitually veered into bushes and shrubs, much to Erin’s consternation. I am mostly accustomed to driving on the “wrong” side now, though it’s a bit of a challenge on roundabouts at first…it’s counterintuitive for me to turn right into a traffic circle but there are so many of them here that I got the hang of it quickly.The Touran, being a standard shift, gave me a bit of hard time … a six-speed, I’d sometimes slip it into the wrong gear, usually at an inopportune time — like just as I get into a roundabout — and it would stall. Apparently (found this out the hard way), you need to completely turn off the ignition before attempting restart. Can you spell “awkward”?.
Part of the way down, with Erin trying to locate our position and me concentrating on collision avoidance, I could hear Tom’s soft and raspy voice in the background. “Just a minute Thomas,” I asked. Then he addresses his mother…”Maman, could I have a bit of help?” to which she replied similarly…”Just a minute Thomas…” After the requisite pause…”but Maman…I have a problem.” Finally, Erin’s turns around and shouts “Stop the car! Stop the car!”
As it turned out, I had installed the rented car seat upside down thinking it was something that one sat on rather than something a child would wear. After a while Thomas just slipped under it and found himself with his legs in the air and the lap belt around his neck. Hence the screaming.
After awhile, we found ourself near Wexford minus the sunshine we started off with so we decided to opt for a faster, less scenic route. Hoping on to the N30, we discovered that the “highway” is not much better than the cowpaths on the coastal route…the main difference is the speed limit. At 100kph, some parts of the road look positively deadly. Combine that with some of the older homes that have front doors a mere footstep from the roadway and a driver unaccustomed to right-hand drive and the only thing you’re missing is absent or poor signage to your destination.
You guessed it…some roads have no names (think of U2), bifurcations are mostly unmarked, highways turn into cowpaths and back and, in the end, we got lost (in spite of GPS) a dozen times. Without GPS to show us where we were, we would have sure ended seeking refuge in some farmhouse near some town named Kilsomething. We arrived at Erin’s cousin’s home just past dinner time and, as it is with the Irish, dinner was on the table shortly thereafter. Hospitality has Ireland as its birthplace.