Gringas & Guacamole

Gringas & Guacamole

By Gail Nott

Erin Go Loco


stpatricksdayhappyTake my word for it; you can’t get there from here; well, not quickly. Go figure; two hours from Guadalajara to Houston, maybe three hours from Houston to Newark, then six hours from Newark to Shannon, Ireland. Then why did it take 25 hours? I do not age well.

Once on the ground, I was presented with a toy car and warned to stay on the left side of the road. I am still mentally capable of putting my shoes on the correct foot so then what part of my brain is dysfunctional? I repeatedly found myself in the right lane cursing at the drivers who were coming straight at me. After running up on the sidewalk twice and leaving the passenger side mirror crumpled on a car in Outtergard, fear must have fired the appropriate synapses.

Aisles at a grocery store are wider than the country roads of Connemara County, Ireland. Most of the roads have no center- lines; there is an abundance of blind curves and some fool coming the other way on your side of the road. There are no shoulders; your choice is to hit the long-haired sheep grazing beside the roadway, pepper the side of the car with cliff boulders or stop and have a pint. This was not a hard choice.

Irish pubs are infamous and we weren’t disappointed. The pint of Smithwick was only slightly warmer than the Bushmills I ordered with ice. Right, forget ice, it just dilutes the good Irish whiskey. A dim room smelling of peat, tweed hats, Wellingtons, heavy, wool sweaters, wrinkled faces and gnarled hands; fuel for anyone’s imagination. I thought our waiter was deaf when he kept asking us to repeat our order of fresh oysters, mussels and chips. Flashing a grin he said, “Oh, you’re Yanks are you now?” I was to learn we do not all speak the same Queen’s English.

First hint was forgetting where I was and asking for the baño, blank look. Then I tried restroom, no response. Getting crass, I said toilet, a shoulder shrug. A lovely lady with pink cheeks, alabaster skin and strawberry red hair came to my rescue. “Do ya need the water closet, now dear?” Too bad she didn’t go with me; the chain pull on these babies defies an engineering degree.

You can’t get there from here; well, not by train or airplane. We had planned to visit Dublin. Our hosts at Cashel House urged us not to drive. Aer Lingus is booked weeks in advance by businessmen commuting between the northern counties and Dublin. The railway system is antiquated; we were unable to find a train schedule or telephone number. Off to Galway we “tootled” in our toy car.

Quay Street, Galway’s equivalent to Rodeo Drive, is blocked off to motor traffic. Naturally, we had booked a hotel on Quay Street, parked blocks away in a “motor hotel” that had only steps. Having counter-balanced the toy car with our massive suitcases, we were fearful of it tipping over if they weren’t removed in unison. The stares were plentiful as we bumped and cursed our way to the hotel.

Policemen are visibly absent from the busy streets of Galway. When two armored personnel carriers stopped and twelve Irish soldiers, with very large guns, lined the street, I froze. I didn’t need a writer´s imagination to think of the worst. As the armored bank truck pulled up, I think I began to breathe again.

The barren, wind-swept cliffs of Connemara, the herds of sheep and lambs grazing on yellow bracken, toilets I couldn’t flush—lasting memories. Would I go to Ireland again? Well, I don’t think you can get there from here!




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