Saturday, June 05, 2010

Breath and quiet

I am SO glad I went away. Thursday, I took a bus from Belfast to Derry, then changed to a bus from Derry to Donegal Town. I left early thinking if I didn't, I'd chicken out and NOT go, but I also didn't realize how tiny and boring Donegal Town was. So killing 6 hours until the next bus to Glencolumcille was torture, but I did it, and even survived the strange men talking at me on the bus for half the ride in the evening, who kept saying that Glencolumcille was QUIET. I was one of two people who were left on the bus until the last stop, and after we asked for directions at the gas station, we parted and I hiked up 1 km to Dooey Hostel. Run by Mary and her son Leo, it has insane views since it's built into a hillside that overlooks Glen Bay. After talking to Katja, a German woman who had been there for days and was leaving the next morning, I ran down the hill to the beach. The sun doesn't really set there. Maybe around 11pm?

I barely slept. I was so restless. Probably being the first hostel stay in my entire life + it WAS really quiet, even the water was a tiny little lap, lap. Neither of us slept much, and when she got up at 6:30am to catch the morning bus, I decided to just get up and take a stab at the day before it got too hot. I went down to the beach, back in towards a field, up towards town, and then started the walking path, winding uphill through farmland and grazing land towards a looped trail.

I went up to see an old tower that is visible from the hostel. This is the cliff it's on, and it's good that Katja warned me that getting there takes longer than you'd think from a distance. But after that, I felt okay enough to finish the loop and end up back in town to get badly-needed water (something about the red, copper-tinted water from the taps didn't sit w/me) and lunch supplies. I hiked back to the hostel to eat and have a good talk with Leo. He recommended going to the Irish college, so I did, and read Seamus Heaney's Station Island. Then I visited the Folk Village Museum and sat for a long time outside in the shade of the cafe with tea, cording hanji.

I hiked back up to the hostel to have an early dinner, but what I REALLY wanted to do on this trip was visit the cliffs in the next town. Too far for me to walk, and when I asked Katja if there was any taxi or hackney service that would come get me and take me there, she laughed. I sat outside to eat and saw a new car in the lot: a German couple that had driven to France from near Dresden, taken the 18-hour ferry to Ireland, and driven all over the island for two weeks, had arrived. They spoke almost no English. But they were going to Slieve League, and it was my only real chance to get there. So I asked, and after a flurry of German-English dictionary pages, we were on our way.

I could tell they were hardcore hikers, so I only went up with them part of the way and then let them run off for a few more hours. That's them on the mt: you can see her red pants. But I'm glad I made it even THAT far, since it's much further than I would have even imagined attempting on my own.

This is from the way back down. It was nice to be able to take my time and not have a soul see me descend awkwardly. Up there, too, totally silent. Even the sheep thinned out as we ascended. My ears popped. I didn't know it was possible to find such silent places, even with the sea so close. This is looking in a different direction from the descent.

I was so happy to get to the car park, and took off my socks, and did yoga on this picnic table. But after an hour of that, I was bored and had left all my cording back at the hostel. So instead, I shoved the sheep over and pulled rushes to try weaving them. They're not very good for it b/c they're so weak and break easily, but it kept me preoccupied. I was able to sleep a little more that night, even though Katja had been replaced by a surly, snoring German, and got up at 4:40am (the sun was already up and at it). I did one last visit to the beach and then corded in the empty town until my 7:30am bus.

I was back in Belfast at 12:30pm, had lunch at St. George's Market, and was happy to see the willow weaver there in action. How can you not absolutely love this bird? A wonderful way to close out the journey. Here are pics.

1 comment:

  1. wow, beautiful and daunting, i think. the wee reed basket makes me happy. as does that bird.


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