Date: Monday, December 15th, 2008
Location: Inis Mór, Republic of Ireland + Galway, Republic of Ireland
Weather: Bloody miserable

Oh, nuts. I forgot to blog about yesterday’s dinner. And, as my dear brother so kindly put it, the “psychopath” at the hostel. Dinner was just pasta we made ourselves with stuff bought at the supermarket in Galway. The psychopath (henceforth known as Peter, because that is his name) was a ukulele playing man, with his (most likely) wife in tow. And resembles, as my dear brother observed, “Peter from Family Guy”, because of his coarsity of language, skills with a musical instrument, coarsity of language towards spouse, and general inconsideration. I hope I didn’t get that wrong (forgive me. At least I haven’t used quote marks). So, this fellow’s steak requires a rather lot of butter. And the all the gas stoves on to keep himself (and the kitchen) warm. The end result being a very smokey kitchen, a lingering buttery smell (even till the next day), and stoves that cease to be functioning the following day.

We also met a rather nice Irish lady at the hostel. But, more about her later. Because, the weather is actually a conversation topic in these parts of the world where it’s woeful.

The weather yesterday was rather pleasant actually. No rain or hail, quite a bit of sun, few clouds. Can’t say the same about today. Think about a cloudless day. Blue skies as far as the eye can see. The sun hanging in the air like a massive golden orb in a majestic ballroom. Today was pretty much nothing like that. Add a bone-chilling wind, stinging sheets of rain, and biting cold to the grey shroud in every direction and you get a rough approximation of the weather.

The original plan being to cycle, we walked the mile or so back to town, to greet resolutely shut bike shops. Actually, to greet resolutely shut everything. For the rest of the day. Either the Aran islands are really laid back for a tourist economy, or they figure nobody’s mad enough to venture out in weather like today’s. As we proceeded to walk the 7 or so kilometres to the foot of Dún Aengus (Fort of Aengus, the ruins of an ancient hillfort on a cliff, off which people have been blown by the wind to their deaths) and then to climb up, we met that nice Irish lady I was talking about. And spent the rest of our time on the island with her.

Holidaying in hostels and going out hiking is really fun, if you chance upon fun, interesting and sociable people. (Unfortunately, I don’t fit the bill). Good thing Arran Murphy fits that bill then. She’s a part time clothing designer, and part time musician in the band Dark Room Notes (MySpace here), an Irish alternative/electronica band who’s travelled around some. Good company, yes, most certainly.

We climbed Dún Aengus, and it was worth it, despite the wind, rain, cold, wet in the shoes and the gloves, and all that other weather related nonsense. Worth it to be the only ones atop a desolate windswept cliff, well aware of it’s history in excess of 4000 years, admiring the ingenuity and tenacity of the land’s ancient peoples, and to be braving the same rains and winds they braved. Worth it to stand five feet from the cliff edge, and to feel the tug of a stray gust. To be able to see the wind—dashing itself against the sheer cliff surface, throwing spray upwards in gravity-defying, mind-boggling sheets. And to observe in awe the tremendous power of the waves pounding the rock, ponderously backwashing, and meeting the next one, churning the water into a vicious, yet awe-inspiring froth.

Having braved Dún Aengus, we treated ourselves to lunch at a place at the foot of the path up, and made our way back to the hostel. (And because it’s getting late, the rest of this post will be brief). Followed it up with a walk to town, sat in the pub for a short while as Arran had a pint of Guinness, and caught the ferry and bus (1.74 hours) back to Galway. All with feet not differing not too much from blocks of ice. We treated ourselves to dinner at a restaurant somewhere near the quay (Bailey’s cheesecake for dessert, and it actually had Bailey’s, unlike some jam sold in some jam shops in County Clare). Made our way to the hostel, took a good warm shower, and ended up here, blogging. Aaaaaand, done.

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