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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

Day 165 - 173: There and back again - A short Tale of the South

Dublin - Cork - Bantry - Dublin - Belfast - Londonderry - Moville

15.6. - 23.6.2021

Smoothly the train from Dublin entered Cork and we found our way to the bus station easily. The sun was not shining which was good because this meant that Marjorie would not overheat. For a moment everything seemed perfectly alright- a kind security man helped us find the right bus, the bus driver was trying to check me in and had no problems with Marjorie travelling on his vehicle. Then everything went downhill quickly. It turned out we were on the wrong bus which was why the nice driver could not find our prepaid online ticket.

The bus we needed to get on to was the one behind him and as we approached the female driver of this coach, she was shaking her head energetically, walking towards me with the simplest two words “No dogs!”, gesturing with her arms to fortify her denial of taking Marjorie on the bus. I was taken aback, I did not even have a chance to talk to her, she just shook her head, would not look at me or Marjorie and turned on her heel, going into the direction she just came from. Looking around I saw some kind of customer service officer, the only open window in a row of closed ticket counters. My hopes were then again turned down immediately by him, shaking his head as well and stating that the terms and conditions of the Eirann Bus company have a strict no pet policy and there was nothing he could do about it. And so I watched our bus drive off, four people in it, without Marjorie and I.

I felt overwhelmed with helplessness and so taken aback at the very first time ever on this journey that I wasn’t even given a minute to communicate, to talk with the people. I was shut down before I even got to open my mouth, simply because they saw my huge backpack and a dog by my side. Tears streamed down my face, the first time crying in public since I cannot remember when. And I did not care because panic filled my body, flooding my brain and preventing any form of pragmatic decision making abilities. What should I do now? There was no other public service connection to Bantry, and in general all rural areas of Ireland that I wanted to visit were only operated by Eirann Bus. Devastation got a hold on me, making it absolutely impossible to act like an adult and formulate the next step.

Shakily I took out my mobile phone and dialled the only person that was awaiting my arrival in Bantry in two hours time, Derek, my host to be. He caught me off guard when he immediately told me he was getting into the car and coming to pick me up. I was so taken aback, and still am, even while writing this, that this kind hearted man would spend two hours driving to Cork, pick Marjorie and I up, take me back with him for another two hours drive back. Suddenly my outburst of tears and despair seemed silly and unnecessary. There was someone going to get me and uplifted by this surprising turn of events, I got up, shouldered my backpack and went on a search for somewhere for Marjorie and I to spend the next two hours. The rainy weather increased but luckily we found a small cafe that was open and had an outdoor area that was sheltered from the rain. While I was drinking a warm tea, and Marjorie had her sausage, I got talking to a nice couple. Similar to the bus driver in Dublin they suggested I should just buy a ‘therapy dog’- vest for Marjorie and say she was one, as people in Ireland generally do not ask for further detail. They explained to me that asking for an identification would never ever come across anyone’s mind, this would be against the very polite nature the Irish people have. It was a nice advice, admittedly I even went on Amazon, which would be my first Amazon buy ever, but I did not do it, yet. Maybe it is a German- Austrian- Swiss thing, maybe it is just my own principles, lying on purpose seems to me something entirely different than just letting people assume something (like it was the case with the bus drivers in Dublin).

Anyhow, Derek met us at the bus station with his huge, blue Ford T and his small, Border Collie dame Bella. The drive was very pleasant, mostly because Derek is such a sweet guy, easy to talk to with a lot of lovely stories from his life. Before we went back to his house, we had to buy a few groceries and some take away food as it was way to late to cook, he said. Finally, after eleven hours of travelling, Derek pulled into a driveway and showed Marjorie and I the trailer where we were supposed to live for the next month.

I had my second heart attack then. The trailer was in such bad condition that I honestly had another, slightly less tragic, but nonetheless intense, panic attack. Dirt, dust, spider webs, no running water, dampness, no clean sheets, duvets, pillows or pillow cases- and worst of all, no service via my Swiss mobile provider. It was raining outside, I had nowhere else to go and worst of all, Derek had just been driving over four hours to get me from Cork and above all else was such a generous, delightful character! What was I supposed to do? Maybe I overreacted, after all I had not eaten all day, drank too little and was absolutely exhausted.

What I needed was a nice person to talk to, someone whom I could trust blindly and who would put into perspective what then seemed to be a dramatic situation.

I called my first hosts, Sarah and Andrew, to get some advice. They encouraged me to trust my gut instinct of what I can and cannot bear, write down what I need provided in order to stay and dive deep into my acquired skillset from my online course to become a Coach and figure out how to approach Derek the next morning, without seeming to be ungrateful or disrespectful. I slept with Marjorie on her blanket that night, absolutely drained and yet unable to close my eyes to this strange situation, these unfamiliar noises, the smells, the bareness without a pillow or blanket to cover me.

The following morning everything changed to the probably best situation one could imagine. Derek absolutely understood where I was coming from, was even willing to drive me back to Cork immediately if I wanted to. Because he was in need of support and help, having suffered a heart attack the previous fall, he proposed an alternative to that. He would accommodate me in a bed and breakfast in the next village, called Glengarriff, in order for me to stay and help him get the trailer cleaned up for the a WWOOFer couple visiting him in two weeks’ time. Enjoying the idea of having an opportunity to being of service to someone in need and also preventing a rude awakening for the WWOOFers coming after me, I agreed.

Glengarriff, a small village that holds a winter’s sleep and only gets alive with tourism during spring and summer, is charming. It has one main street, crammed with several, colourful buildings that are pubs, restaurants, hotels, boutiques and shops that sell local art or typical Irish weaved products. There is a nature reserve, a Bamboo Park and a ferry to an island called Garinish and one to Seal Island. My go to spot resembles a market square where, depending on which day it is, food caravans as well as arts and crafts tents sell their goods. Directly behind this street food market area, is a small trail, called ‘The Fairy Walk’. Marjorie and I went there every single day as it is located directly within the woods by the sea and opposite our B’n’B, with small fairy and leprechaun houses here and there, tucked into bushes or by the side of trees. We also did the “Great Meadow Walk” and the little hike up to “Lady Bantry’s Lookout” that are both routes within the near nature reserve.

Apart from one and a half day off to our own, I was working five days straight to get the trailer clean. It truly is indescribable what happens if something is not inhabited for two years. Though I enjoy making things pretty again, cleaning for five days straight is not one of my most favourite experiences so far, more-so because the condition was in dire need of chemical cleaning products which I usually despise as they just damage our Mama Earth and all her creatures, our water, our soil.

On a positive note though I enjoyed vegan pizza from a remodelled horse box caravan, named “Boxed”. They even had vegan mozzarella, I did not try it though for I enjoy the taste of the vegetables and oils on the pizza, whereas with cheese I am just able to taste the cheese and nothing else. With a late arrival back after done work, I had two times without a vegan option to eat. And one time I was served a vegetable soup with the waiter telling me that this soup was vegan, only to order the very same soup again the next day and being told by another waiter that they use chicken broth to make it- which basically meant I was an omnivore for the duration of one dinner. Apart from that, the other days I had no problem getting a vegan curry with rice or a vegan salad and chips (meaning fries).

My way back to Dublin has been made easy by chance. Since Derek’s mother lives there and he was planning on going to visit her anyway, he agreed to take me with him. Once again, the nicest man with such a kind heart helped me getting where I needed to go. Looking out to not burn my travel budget by staying in Dublin for a night, I booked a train ticket from Dublin to Belfast and from Belfast to Londonderry on the same day. This meant Marjorie and I would be travelling nearly twelve hours, eight hours of car and train rides, one hour of bus rides, not included the hours of waiting time, used as breaks to tend to Marjorie’s needs, have a run and a sniff wherever possible. On the other hand I planned that on purpose, after all I have not yet generated an income, I did not want to stay at another hotel, neither in Belfast nor in Londonderry.

A long summary shortened, I am a lucky girl. Meeting Derek who is a wonderful human being, supporting him in his quest to get his farm running by making the trailer a home for future WWOOFers and finally being graciously accepted two weeks earlier by my next acquaintances Seamus and Cressida up in the North. Also I had the opportunity to experience the South, Glengarriff and its stunning coastline, being by the ocean again and breathing in the glorious air of a nature reserve, all of this provided me with yet another challenging opportunity to grow as a person, work on my perception of things, build up trust into fellow humans, acknowledging that everyone is doing the best they can, the support and kindness surrounding me in the people I met so far along this journey. Maybe I will come back. Never say never is what they say- after all I got invited by a couple I met on a hike, the husband being Austrian himself, who are living on the next peninsula. Derek’s neighbour Michael, a gentleman himself, also extended an invitation for me to stay for a couple of weeks. And the kind-hearted Derek invited me back as well. It is absolutely wonderful knowing that I have so many places to go to, so much support, so much kindness found within humanity.

Yes, a thousand times yes, to all of it, and thanks, a thousand times thanks, to all of it too. What I was able to experience was a turning point, yet again, showing me how things could turn within the blink of an eye. And as usual, how much beauty there is around us. If you are curious about the visuals of our week in the South, here is the link to my Vlog.

Have a glorious week!

With all my heart, love and light, beloved souls


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