Superstitions: If I spill salt, I will throw a little pinch over my left shoulder. If there is a stray eyelash on my face, I will get it, blow it away and make a wish. I used to hold my breath when going under bridges (got over that one). Never walk under a ladder! Knock on wood! A black cat!
This last weekend a group of us went to the land of superstition known as Blarney, home to the world famous Blarney Stone. It was a little jaunt away from Cork, where we were staying. Literary giants (and giantesses), politicians, and just about anyone else have kissed it to get the gift of the gab. I can honestly say it is something that I have always wanted to do. To do so, one must climb to the top of Blarney Castle, lie on the floor, then dangle their body over a crevice in the rock (don’t worry, I’m sure only a handful of people have been fatally injured). Mom, you would have a claustrophobia panic attack walking up. The stairs got considerably smaller as we plodded along. But we all survived it and felt much more eloquent after.
The grounds are quite extensive and there are many paths and trails for exploration. We went into the Rock Close, a quite green and magical path with a lot of stories and tasks to experience along the way. Legend has it that there is a witch who lives in a stone and she comes out at night to gather firewood. The owners of the castle, way back when, agreed to let her do this if she grants visitors a wish. To get that wish, one must walk up and down these stairs backwards with their eyes closed, thinking only of the wish. We all managed to do this without any broken limbs. I kind of felt like I was on Legends of the Hidden Temple without the tacky shirts or hard hats.
That late afternoon everyone else went back to Dublin while Carmen and I stayed behind for one more night at the Kinlay Hostel. Instead of our fellow NYUers, who completely filled the room the previous night, we met the itinerants, our new hostel mates. There was one girls from France, two guys from somewhere in Latin America and one older Brit. We also realized how underprepared the two of us are. A conversation kind of happened that went like this:
Me: Uh Carmen? Did you bring a hairbrush?
Carmen: Uh, no. Did you?
Me: No. Uh Carmen? Did you bring an umbrella?
Carmen: Uh no. Did you?
No umbrella and no hairbrush = crazed, frizz ball, drowned rat Americans. We rocked it though.
That night we were on a quest for traditional Irish music. We were told a few places and were planning on hopping around. We also wanted pub food, but realized that most pubs close their kitchens quite early. That is how we ended up at an Indian food place. We walked in, glanced at the menu, then ordered. I said that I wanted the Chicken Tikka. He looked at me very seriously and said in monotone: Miss, that is very spicy.
In a similar fashion someone would say: Miss you have an explosive device strapped to your face.
I said I could handle it and he looked at me seriously again and made me sample the chutney type sauce.
Guy: What you ordered is twice as spicy as this. Can you handle what you ordered?
I sampled, said I could, and he finally let me go through with it after he checked my blood type and medical history. It took skill and perseverance to order the chicken tikka, but it was tasty and well worth the burn.
After dinner we headed to The Corner House. On the way, we passed a drug store and Carmen paused and said, “Did you see that? There’s a man dressed in a bunny costume in there!”
I didn’t see, so we walked back. I stared, didn’t see anything. Then slowly the events unfolded. I saw a pair of pink ears peeking out from one of the aisles. We gaped in anticipation. Then another man walked toward us and in a very foreboding and deep voice said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Bunny man walked out from the aisle and we both gaped even more and clutched each other. It was perhaps the scariest thing in the world: A pink fluff with cut-out eyes and a cut-off mouth was walking right toward us.
Me: He’s creepy!
Carmen: I’m afraid!
Me: Run, Carmen, run!
So we did.
In situations such as that, I am 100% flight over fight. We ran away from evil bunny and didn’t tire until we reached the bar of the Corner House…
Carmen: Two pints!
Bar man: What kind of pints?
Carmen: Guinness! Two Guinness! (when in doubt)
The Corner House didn’t have live music that night, but it had a very homey atmosphere and the music they did play was very traditional. It was the perfect end to an event filled day. We talked to some of the locals and had a jolly old time.
The next day we took the train from Cork to Cobh (pronounced Cove). It is a seaport town and where the Lusitania and Titanic were built. It was raining heavily that day, but Carmen and I dealt with it and explored anyway. There were a spattering of sail boats in the water, the houses were all very colorful and there were a ton of statues and memorials commemorating the two great and tragic Oceanliners. We wandered up this massive hill (as steep, if not steeper than the great hills of San Francisco). It was pouring rain, we were sopping, and decided to go inside the majestic church that sat on top of the hill. We wandered inside and realized that a baptism was taking place and sat unobtrusively in the back for a while.
We wanted to light candles, but realized that there were no candles. From far away, yes, there were candles. Upon a closer look we realized that they were all electric. Instead of lighting them with a match one had to light it by pressing a metal button. Besides for that slight tackiness it was majestic.
Back in Cork, as we were walking from the train station to our hostel, we came across three little boys asking for money. One was definitely the loud leader/facilitator, the second was the crony, and the third did not know what he was doing with these two knuckleheads. They were in the twelve year old range.
They asked for a euro so they could get home. The leader said that he had a hole in his pants, grabbed at a hole at his knee, and said that his money fell out. The crony was clutching a video game guiltily. I called them out and asked if that was the reason for the missing money.
The leader gave in and told me the truth.
Leader: Yeah…stupid (shaking head). And now no one will give us money.
Can you pleeease spare a euro.
Me: Let’s see…I’ll give you a 50 cent.
Me: (to crony) Excuse me? Listen, little—
Me: Yes, LITTLE boy. I’m going to give you money. Don’t be rude to me. And I think you should do a little dance or something so you earn this money.
The facilitator did a small jig.
Me: Okay, you’ve earned it.
I gave him 50 cent and so did Carmen.
Me: Next time you have to get home, don’t spend your bus fare on video games!
They nodded solemnly as the mysterious older women (us) walked off into the sunset.
Leader: Wait! Where are you from?
They yelled after us.
Me: Where do you think?
Me: Yes. Yes we are.
Carmen and I nodded, walked away and both agreed that it was kind of like a Butcher Boy moment (this movie about a psycho Irish child). The run-in was kind of like this:
On the way back to Dublin (the four and a half hour bus ride) Carmen and I invented a game. It’s called marry or vomit. It started like this: We were both feeling ill from reading on the bus. So Carmen said since we were getting car-sick, and she listed all these names and I just assumed that she was going to ask who I would throw up on (since we were on the car-sick topic) But she really was going to ask who I would rather marry.
So this is how the game works: Who would you marry and who would you vomit on? You give three people and they all have to be somehow related.
David Beckham, Bono, or Ewan McGregor?
Unanimous vomit on Becks. I would marry Bono, Carmen would marry Ewan
George Clooney, Brad Pitt, or Matt Damon?
Unanimous vomit on Clooney. Unanimous marriage with Damon.
Scorcese, Lucas, or Spielberg?
Unanimous Marriage with Marty, Unanimous vomit on Lucas
And so it continued until the two drowned rats finally reached home base.
It Certainly Took Me Long Enough...
9 years ago