Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wine in the Bumper Cars

August 11 - Dingle, Ireland
Dingle is a small fishing town down on Ireland’s southwest coast. I find myself at the Ballingtaggart Hostel, just east of town. It’s 20 minutes away by foot, five on a bike, or two in a shuttle that you think is one euro but tries to charge you six, which you refuse.

Dingle is a pretty place to jog, especially if you find a well-worn path along the cliffs with breaks in the fences wide enough for you to fit through but not the livestock. It’s even nice if you find a poorly tended path with thorns and pot holes, though you spend so much time watching out for your ankles that you barely see the green hills and the brown cliffs and the grey-blue water.

The prettiest sunsets I recall from my first seven months are March 24 in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand; April 19 in Agra, India; and this past Tuesday here in Dingle. I remember pink surrounding the Thai palms, orange outlining the Indian riverbank, and a wave of orange and blue above the Irish-green hills and silhouetted trees. It’s only the dates I needed my notes to recall.

Yesterday it was sunny and I was inside the hostel working on the documentary all day. In the afternoon I walked by reception and saw Hugh, who had left on his bike from Dublin the morning after we went out in Temple Bar together. He’d rode 100 miles that first day and then decided biking around Ireland was more work than he was up for. If you aren’t on a bike, Ireland is a small place and you’re bound to run into people on different stops along the way.

If water naturally finds a level, then the backpacker naturally finds the best girl in his hostel. Anita is Swiss and she spends her nights coughing a loud bronchial cough in the bed next to mine.

There’s a good trick you can use if you want to get people together without asking them if they want to go out with you.

“Hey Anita, me and this Australian guy are going to go into town later if you’re interested.”

“Hey Hugh, me and this Swiss girl are heading down to the pub later if you’re interested.”

Then you have a group of three and when you stick out your thumb a middle-aged couple will pick you up and take you into town. For reasons I can’t exactly figure out I really liked Antia a lot. She was pretty but not especially so, and she didn’t speak all that much English. I think I was just due to like someone.

We stopped into the Dingle Pub and paid $5 for our pints. Yesterday I spent 25 euros on alcohol and 17 on everything else. Drinking is a pricy habit when you’re on a budget, but one way to help the situation is to skip dinner, which eliminates the cost of food and gets you drunk much cheaper. This was my approach last night and after a couple pubs I was feeling pretty Irish.

Around midnight we shared a pitcher of Sangria and picked where we’d wake up in the morning if we could wake up anywhere we’d been. We guessed eacthother’s siblings. We picked where we’d wake up in the morning if we could wake up anywhere we hadn’t been. Anita’s English had gotten better after her second beer.

The bar was closing so we bought a bottle of wine for the road. Hugh promised to bring the glasses back in the morning even though he knew we were leaving on a 7am bus. We walked along the pier and over to the small, darkened amusement park in the middle of town. There wasn’t a gate so we went in and walked over to the bumper cars and each sat in our own car. We were almost drunk enough to try and power up the generator but not quite. Hugh had pocketed some candles at the bar and Anita lit them and put one on the hood of each of our cars.

Anita wouldn’t sing so I said I would instead. “Something by U2,” Hugh suggested.

“Yeah, we’re in Ireland, it should be something by U2,” I agreed.

I stared out at the boats in the distance and sang all the words I could remember to “One.” Hugh was genuinely impressed, which was sweet.

Then Hugh and Anita decided the bumper car track could be a dance floor and as I attempted “Rock Around the Clock,” they swung around haphazardly.

Half the wine was gone. “Excuse me, the park is closed,” a middle-aged Irishman called over.

“Okay,” we said, and walked out with our wine. Anita thought we should walk home along the water instead of by the road. The scenic route takes three times as long even in the daylight but we trudged through the long, wet grass, trying to stay on the path. I wanted to get home and walked faster than the others. Finally I turned around and saw Hugh and Anita standing still 200 feet behind me. The lights of the town twinkled between their silhouettes. And then their heads moved closer together until all the lights between their faces were eclipsed and I walked home along the road and slept through my alarm.


Post a Comment

<< Home