The bus ride from Dublin to Faithlegge was filled with views of rolling green hills, perfectly manicured pastures, and a few random super-old-dilapidated-castle-looking churches. And it was exactly what I thought of when I thought of Ireland.
Caroline and I, (accidentally keeping it too casual yet again) realized half way through our two and a half hour bus ride that we didn’t know exactly where we were going or how to get there. We honestly didn’t even know at which stop to get off. Luckily, almost everyone you meet in Ireland is super friendly. A man on the bus let us use his smartphone to check the address and even called the bus station to see which stop was best for us to got off. Getting around rural Ireland (at least in Waterford) is a funny thing, and sort of difficult, but obviously we managed to make it to our host family’s home.
I will revisit travel in Ireland in just a moment actually..
The street where we are staying is short comparatively and lined with beautiful mostly white farm houses with well manicured land. Cows. Horses. Etcetera.
Our hosts live in a pink farm house with an untamed garden. There are random wood pieces with murals on them to patch holes in the gate to their cool unruly backyard. They have two ducks and a chicken. Two dogs. Two cats. And four children. They are obviously the artistic types of their block.
Jolene (Just to clarify I do change all the names of everyone I meet in this blog as it is the internet etc..) is a wonderful (really wonderful) smart dynamic mom. She is a writer, and absolutely brilliant. She shows us to our new home. Our first work exchange task on the day we arrive is to clean the cabin in which we will be staying. Which was in total disarray, but we had fun cleaning it as we listened to music on my phone and what not. Later Jolene returned to our cabin to inform us that we would be working with her husband Daniel in their waterfront restaurant. Damn. We both have worked in restaurants back home for five years and were looking forward to getting a little down and dirty in the garden. But we couldn’t ask for more considerate hosts, better accommodation, and she has filled our kitchen with food (lots and lots of meat), so we agree to start the next day.
The cabin is pink with teal and red details (like the house). It houses more spiders than I’ve ever seen in my life, and even after deep cleaning the place I still find a couple new spiders everyday. We have stopped killing them as they will keep away other unwanted bugs, as is there purpose, and started naming them.
There is one that lives underneath our toilet named Krusty (after Krusty the crab of SpongeBob SquarePants) for his impossibly huge eyes that stick up like antennas on top of his head like a crab. There is also Charlotte who creeps along my bedroom ceiling, sometimes startling me when she passes by the light above my bed and makes huge spider shadows along my loft wall.. We do have a small TV that can sometimes manage to play a selection of DVDs provided… but other than this we are quite without entertainment.
(If you hadn’t already gathered by my detailed knowledge of the spiders who live in our home)
We have to gather wood and light the wood stove for heating, and manually light the gas stove each time we want to eat or make tea etc. The outlets have to be turned on with a switch before they can be used, and the hot water has to be preheated by switch an hour before use and MUST BE SWITCHED OFF as apparently it is really expensive.
It is different than anywhere or anyway that I have lived before, and after some adjusting to certain things (like hanging my underwear on a clothesline for all the world to see) I quite like it. I feel wounds healing I didn’t even know I had. Without all the constant stimulation of, (American) life, I guess, to distract me I read a book in a day or two. I watch restless Charlotte spin and re-spin her web on my ceiling at night. I am able to hear and organize and understand my thoughts. I do not feel the anxiety I am usually plagued with.
Anyways back to transportation in Waterford.
The roads are extremely narrow.. Like, small even for a one lane road.
I’m not exaggerating.
And I AM usually exaggerating.
They seem impossibly narrow as one lane roads but they are not one lane roads. They’re two lane roads where cars magically squeeze past each other going i n s a n e speeds. I am one to get car sick, but I am not one to be easily scared by bad driving. I am terrified every single time I get into a car here. I have to (apologetically) hold on to parts of the car and (especially when Daniel is driving) brace my legs against the seat in front of me and close my eyes. Which is actually a shame because the views on the ride from the cottage to the restaurant are actually quite lovely. Sometimes I wonder if their driving 60km/hr around sharp turns on tiny “two lane” unpaved roads is pay back for some cultural offense we unknowingly made against them, but seeing as almost everybody drives like this I guess it is normal.
Also, there are no street signs or numbers. When I asked Jolene to email us her address, her instructions were to turn right by Jack Meads Pub and then left about a mile or so later. Nobody uses addresses here. They all go by the names of the families that live there. Literally one day on the way to work a man passing us on the road motioned for Daniel to stop, so he did. The man asked if he knew a John Something-Or-Other and Daniel said “Nope doesn’t live here” and the man replied “That’s a shame, he owes me money for a big bag of drugs I gave him.” Daniel “Oh! I see, well let me know when you find him then, right?” They both laughed, and sped away.
This is rural Ireland.
Anyways I can only get internet by leaning out the upstairs bathroom window which as you can imagine is not very comfortable so bye for now!