By Colleen Boyle
I thought this whole travel and stay in a foreign country and work to pay for my room and food thing would be a breeze. But holy crap was I wrong! My hands hurt, my back hurts, and I even sweated! yeah, I know! Sweat! Gross.
But the people I am working with are really nice and helpful. We get to take a break and order food from Sinead, the cafe cook. As we were all eating, an African-American dude with dreadlocks comes over to the table and starts speaking Japanese to Keho and Kenom (will update with correct spelling soon).
His name is Shannon and he’s from southern California. Him and his wife (who is from Toronto but not a hockey fan) moved here permanently. Shannon has his own business trying to bring Japanese tourism to Valentia Island. He spoke Japanese fluently and made the Japanese couple staying here excited to speak the language again. Made me feel like an ass for learning the language in high school and only remembering a few words and how to count to three.
Today was a long day of cleaning, sweeping, and organizing the back rooms of the cafe. But it wasn’t too bad and I’m sure it’ll be easier day to day. After a long day and a delicious meal (I got a BLT and Chips), me and Jane took the car to Cahersiveen to put my name on the insurance and get dog food.
Jane gave me the car keys and pointed out the car and said she’d be there in a moment. So I went and got in (after having to remind myself the drivers seat is the opposite as it is in my Kia) and I sighed and face palmed myself. Manual Transmission.
Now, me and manual transmissions are friends–well I guess acquaintances. My dad made me drive his toyota when I was 15 and I did okay. I got nervous at a stop light when there were cars behind me and couldn’t get the car going and kept stalling. It was frustrating and so my dad gave up.
But then again when I was 16, I drove my dad’s toyota in Wisconsin, in the open and wide roads. The roads in Ireland are small and people drive freakin’ fast. So here I was, in Ireland, sitting at the driver’s seat, and Jane gets in.
I explain to Jane that I haven’t driven a manual car in over ten years and couldn’t promise to do it well now. But she has faith in me and my confidence builds a little. Here’s the thing, Jane is only 22 and can’t be insured on the car. Since I am 26, I can be insured.
Another hurdle to overcome? Jane’s first language is French so she has no idea how to explain what to do in English. I kind of remember, so we peice it together and figure it out and off I go, driving on the left side of the road like a badass (even grinning now at the though of it, yeah, I know, what a dork).
So then driving off the ferry is a steep hill and I stalled the car trying to shift into second and have to slam on the brakes to stop from rolling back into the cars behind me.
I tried to get the car to go up the hill but didn’t want to break the host’s car. So me and Jane switch and Jane takes the car back to the cafe. Jane promised to take me out driving so that I can practice a bit and get the hang of it.
Here’s what I mean when I say that the roads are really narrow. Watch the video below. If cars are going in the opposite direction, one has to pull as far over as possible and stop and let the other pass because they’d hit each other while moving.
A few days after I began this blog post and I’ve practiced my driving and was able to get over the car ferry and to the supermarket in Cahersiveen. My scared passengers were thankful for my efforts and we now have a fridge full of food. I think I am going to make pizza tonight or tomorrow night for my housemates.
A few changes in my plans. I’m leaving Valentia Island early for a trip to London. Going to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare with Doctor Who actors, this girl’s dreams are coming true). For those family members worried about where I’ll be when, my flight to London is May 19th and I fly back to Kerry Airport May 23rd. From there, I will let people know where I’m going. Either Cork, Galway, Dublin, or a smaller town. I may visit some distant family members (Uncle Mike and Aunt Cheryl Daly’s family). But I will give everyone update.
Also, while in London, platform 9 3/4 is a must see and I will take lots of pictures!