The Girl That Wouldn't Leave

Dingle Travel Blog

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the couch I couldn't leave and my gracious hosts, Fabien and Carlos
I arrived at my new hosts' flat with the intention of staying for one or two nights. Seven days later I finally said my goodbyes to Carlos and Fabien.

Carlos from Spain and Fabien from France have been living and working in Cork for about a year. I was just one of many in the stream of couchsurfers that have claimed their air mattress, but I now hold the title for the longest stay. (I'll take this as a compliment to our compatibility rather than evidence that I don't know when to leave.) The guys were great, and I couldn't argue with Carlos' unyielding offers to cook dinner. Apparently that's the way they work, regardless of guests or not: Carlos is a good cook, so he does. Fabien can't cook, so he survives on Carlos' food.
Cobh, Ireland
Occasionally he does the dishes to even things out. It seems to work for them, and I was fed great food as a result.

It was the fruitless search for my next couch that postponed my departure. I didn't want to leave southern Ireland without seeing the famously beautiful County Kerry. There are couchsurfers dotted throughout the county's small coastal towns, but by the time I weeded out the unavailables, ones that haven't been on the site since they signed up in 2005 or the guy with the homemade multi-paneled tin shed for a house, I was left with about four people to choose from. And when those four didn't answer, I started to lose hope.

Carlos saved the day with the idea of a rental car and roadtrip, and when the weekend rolled around, we were off.
ROADTRIP!
The boys and I packed our bags, bought some snacks and headed west. We made it to our first stop (a coastline with what, I believe, would be beautiful cliffs had we been able to actually see them through the fog) about 25 minutes from town, when another friend Darragh finally responded to say he'd like to join us. Normally this is a moment where you ditch that procrastinating friend. But Darragh had a tent, extra sleeping bags and some of the local knowledge the rest of us aliens lacked, so we turned the car around.

A couple hours later, we were off. Again. This time four people in the car, and freshly-baked cookies to boot. I knew it was a good idea to turn back for Darragh! We made it to the coastal town of Baltimore and parked our car by the cliff-top beacon. We set out on what I thought was an innocent poke about the hillside.
Southern Ireland coast
30 minutes later, we were chin deep in prickly thistles on the side of a too-steep-to-climb-back-down hill. We could only go up from there. And once we were up, we could only continue moving forward through the luscious green terrain that lay before us. It's amazing how deceiving those little purple and yellow flowered fields of green are. They look so soft, but in fact are filled with little pihrana teeth, waiting to grab hold of the nearest human flesh and tear it to shreds. It was a conflicted decision to save my jeans or my legs. My legs lost in the end, and now resemble a complicated morse code message of red dots and dashes.

An hour or more later--after losing track of any or all cow paths we'd been using as guides, being forced to forge our own way through the prickly hills and valleys, before finally following a stream to freedom--we escaped the thistles and stumbled upon the country rode that would lead us to safety.
hiking the thistled jungles of ireland
Our socks and shoes completely soaked and legs red and burning, we trudged barefoot into town and the nearest pub to get some dinner.

After a few hours and a couple pints at the Baltimore pubs, we had to make our way back to the car and our soon-to-be campsite. We opted for the smoother road route this time around, but without any flashlights, blindly stumbled our way up the pitch black path. The moon was nowhere to be seen, but the star-filled sky and a 5-second long shooting star kept our attention and noses in the air until we finally completed the 2-mile trek.

The top of the cliffs weren't exactly legal campgrounds, but at 2 in the morning, pitching the tent directly in front of our car would have to do. Trying to set up a tent with 50-mile-an-hour winds and 2 drunk boys is an adventure, let me tell you.
If the others would have all let go, I'm pretty sure I would have experienced a little parasailing/cliff-jumping while we were at it. The wind didn't let up at all while we slept. It was like a helicopter hovering in our backyard all night. I lucked out with a spot in the middle of our little tent and would periodically wake up to find the others had been devoured by the now-concave walls.

So that's how we slept. Four sleepingbag-wrapped cocoons, stuffed into a tent made for 2.5, watching the tent inhale and exhale around us, convinced that any moment the rain fly would take off and end up in New York by morning. But it didn't. I'm not sure how it survived (possibly the additional boulders Carlos threw on top of the stakes in the middle of the night) or how we hadn't all suffocated from the tent that was now collapsing at all angles and about 2-feet high.
setting up camp
I couldn't bring myself to tell the guys I was actually quite comfortable in there, considering they'd all been wrapped in the tent walls all night. That will remain our little secret.

The rest of our roadtrip was equally scenic, but far less entertaining to write about. We made a loop around the County of Kerry, driving through little coastal towns, beaches and windy mountain roads. Carlos, being the driver and most hungover, wasn't quite in the mood for a leisurely Sunday spin. So most of those those scenes whizzed by my window as we made our way to the peninsula town of Dingle. At this point, we started running out of time with the rental. So a coffee and jaunt to some less-than-exciting "ruins" were pretty much our Dingle experience. Having ogled the coasts and valleys, hiked the prickly hills and survived the dancing tent, it was time to head home. Back to Cork we went.
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the couch I couldnt leave and my …
the couch I couldn't leave and my…
Cobh, Ireland
Cobh, Ireland
ROADTRIP!
ROADTRIP!
Southern Ireland coast
Southern Ireland coast
hiking the thistled jungles of ire…
hiking the thistled jungles of ir…
setting up camp
setting up camp
foggy morning
foggy morning
i think there are cliffs down there
i think there are cliffs down there
Cobh by evening
Cobh by evening
steep streets of Cobh
steep streets of Cobh
gargoyle
gargoyle
the many greens of Ireland
the many greens of Ireland
Dingle Peninsula
Dingle Peninsula
fashion was not part of the weekend
fashion was not part of the weekend
darragh, fabien, carlos and me
darragh, fabien, carlos and me
following the stream to freedom
following the stream to freedom
were free!
we're free!
my legs saying SOS
my legs saying SOS
Dingle
photo by: Nzelvis