Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Avoiding Cyclists on Irish Wet Roads

by | Mar 9, 2024 | Travel | 0 comments

The lessons I learned from Living in Ireland (34/40)

“You don’t need to check any luggage. You can bring all you need as a carry-on. If you are checking luggage, then you are moving for a very short period of time.” My friend told me of his collection of travel advice that he would one day pass on to his daughters.

It reminded me of the moment Rich, my father-in-law, saw everything we brought to Ireland and told us, “You have no business traveling.” It was already too late because we were with him at the airport.

In a way, both of them were right, and still, we had to move forward and travel. My wife and I could’ve decided to stay in Europe, and with our mountain of possessions, we could’ve filled two condos in Dublin — a commentary on how much stuff we had and also how small living spaces can be in Europe.

Our trip to Ireland was one of those we would’ve never planned ourselves because of our two young girls, but once it was organized, there was no way we would miss it.

Nuala, my mother-in-law, her kids, and her grandkids toured the southwest of the island and visited both of her parents’ homes, schools, and churches in County Kerry. We had to be there! So, we moved to Ireland for 14 days.

At the airport, I remember picking up all my luggage and piling it up in one of those carts. The pile of bags towered over me. I had to crane my head out to see where I was going. I didn’t want to invade any Irish person’s physical space with all my things — I was very sensitive not to look English while I was there.

I managed to walk across the street to the car rental terminal. At the terminal, you fill out your paperwork and are bused to your car offsite. But Pat, the guy at the Hertz desk, saw my pile of bags and decided he would try to find me a car in the onsite garage.

He got me the BIGGEST car he had, and I was pumped. I had heard the Irish were very friendly, and this proved it. I was ready to bathe in Irish hospitality, hot toddies, and Shepherd’s pie.The flight was a nightmare, as flights with two toddlers often are. But now everything was turning around.

When we pulled our cart to our giant car, my wife said, “This is not going to work.” Which was my wife’s motto for the trip, and mine was, “We are going to have to figure it out.”

The car was a Kia, and it was a GIANT car (by European standards). But by American standards, the car was the equivalent of a kid going to kindergarten; it’s on its way to being something, but it is still itty bitty. In the end, my wife was right; it did not work out.

We had to pile our two condos again and head back up to let the guy know we needed to rent a tour bus because that would be the only vehicle in Europe to fit all of our luggage.

They had no such cars. He apologized profusely, or at least I think he did; my ear was still getting used to Irish English. Then he told us he didn’t have anything and we needed to find our way to our hotel. He would call us there if the European Union ever allowed importing a car that fit our needs.

We headed back to the taxi pick-up area with all our possessions and our too extremely fatigued toddlers in tow. We parked at the pick-up line and saw no less than three vans pull up, looked at everything we were carrying and pulled away quickly to where the two passenger parties were.

Until an Irish man took piety of our poor, jet-lagged souls and said, “I can take you.” Or something, my ear was still not picking it up. He was driving a black Ford Fusion, and I didn’t think for a second that he would fit everything we had. But I still wanted to see the guy try and then put all of our stuff back out. I didn’t have to. He managed to fit everything in. (That’s what she said.)

Three days later, Pat from Hertz called me and told me they had found me a car. It was perfect timing because it was the day we were meant to drive south to Kenmare.

We went to pick up the car, and we caught the guy just as he was about to lock for lunch. In Europe, businesses still close for lunch. What a concept!

The clerk walked us to our car after we completed the paperwork and showed us a gray Ford Kuga. I know it was Kuga because, at first, I thought it was Kuca, and I knew some Colombian people might have an issue with that offensive word which is an euphemism for vagina.

I was skeptical about the car’s capabilities but still tried to fit everything, and once again, I was pleasantly surprised by Ford’s design. When I closed the door, I decided that when in Europe, I’d only rent American cars.

I can feel the judgment from European cars, almost as if they are looking at me with a cigarette on the side of their mouth and sneering, “That’s so American! To think you need possessions to enjoy the good things in life.”

Where the American cars are a warm embrace telling you, “Life is hard, and we are all creatures of comfort. Come to mama!” And with that, we started driving all our possessions through Ireland.

People asked me how I was driving on the wrong side of the road.
Honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. In the States, I’m used to driving with half my car in my lane and the other half in other people’s lane. It is part of being California and believing in sharing it all.

So, when I was in Ireland, I did the same, and it worked out. Only twice did I forget what I was doing and drove on the right/wrong side. But Irish people were so nice that they just stopped and looked at me while returning to my lane. They are so polite; they didn’t even honk. Or maybe they didn’t honk because they knew that somewhere near, another Irish brother was nursing a hangover after a night at the pub.

What blew my mind were the cyclists on the road and their trust in other drivers. You have to be an adrenaline junkie to ride a bike on Irish roads because the lanes are narrower than anything I have ever seen, the roads are falling apart, there is no shoulder to speak, there are giant cliffs all around, it is always wet and foggy, giant tourists buses are driving like hell, and there are tons of tourists driving on the wrong side for the first time and think that driving on two lanes is acceptable.

If you do that and you don’t have your heart in your mouth, then you might already be dead in a ditch. And when someone finds you in that ditch, the only sensible thing they can say is, “You had no business traveling on these roads.”


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