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A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...

a travel blog by Dan Schoo

Seattle to New York to Dublin to Barcelona to Casablanca to...
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Seattle, United States

Just a few days until my imminent departure. Flying to New York city on Tuesday to see my sister, Deidre, and a few friends. I'll be in New York for a week. The only definite plan for New York thus far is the All Points West festival across the water in Jersey City, where the main draw is Radiohead, but also Girl Talk, Grizzly Bear, Andrew Bird, among others.

The anticipation, along with the stress, mounts by the hour, but it will all dissipate the second I step on that plane... I hope.

Just today I booked a two week trip to Casablanca from Barcelona, to ensure my entry into Europe (I just had a one way ticket. In order so that they don't send me back, I had to buy a ticket out of Schengen territory Europe within 90 days of my arrival, now all is well, hopefully).

I plan on using helpx (www.helpx.net) to organize work exchanges on farms, wineries, communities, etc.

The only bad thing about this trip is I'm not bringing my cowboy boots so the title for this blog only has proverbial meaning. Shame, really.

Tonight I shall rock out to the Raggedy Anns at a house show in the U-District. It will be my last rock n' roll show in the States for quite a long time. The last time I saw them at this same house, it kicked off the summer stellarly (photos at top). I do hope they can do the same for this trip.

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 1, 2008 from Seattle, United States
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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To Live is to Fly

Seattle, United States

Won't say I love you, babe
Won't say I need you, babe
But I'm gonna' get you, babe
And I will not do you wrong
Living's mostly wasting time
And I waste my share of mine
But it never feels too good
So let's don't take too long
Well, you're soft as glass and I'm a gentle man
We got the sky to talk about
And the world to lie upon

Days up and down they come
Like rain on a conga drum
Forget most, remember some
Oh, but don't turn none away
Everything is not enough
And nothing is too much to bear
Where you've been is good and gone
All you keep’s the getting there
Well, to live is to fly awe low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And a sleep out of your eyes

It's goodbye to all my friends
It's time to go again
Here's to all the poetry
And the pickin' down the line
I'll miss the system here
The bottom's low and the treble's clear
But it don't pay to think too much
On things you leave behind
Well, I may be gone but it won't be long
I'll be bringing back the melody
And the rhythm that I find
We all got holes to fill
And them holes are all that's real
Some fall on you like a storm
Sometimes you dig your own
The choice is yours to make
Time is yours to take
Some dive into the sea
Some toil upon the Stone
Well, to live's to fly awe low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eye
Awe, shake the dust off of your wings
And the tears out of your eye

-Townes Van Zandt

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 3, 2008 from Seattle, United States
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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Street Hassle

New York, United States

I don't have much time as I leave soon for JFK airport to fly to Dublin. Can't figure out how to get pictures off my camera, so this entry and perhaps all future ones will be photoless, unfortunately.

Walking home late at night with drink coursing through the system, one can often trick oneself into thinking they're poetic and profound, when really they're just feeling a little sad, well, just such a thing occured to me and I stopped on the roof before turning in for bed at my sister's and wrote this:
'I stand upon a rooftop of Brooklyn and all I see is an ocean. An ocean of city. An ocean to get lost in and to lose yourself in. A labyrinth of people, routes, grids, ignition.
All sewing something up. Wishing to just soak up the minerals. Here the silence breathes deeper than anywhere else, but the silence only exists when the sharks are tearing you apart.
The moths can't decide if they're underwater or not.'

Yeah, make of that what you will. Feel free to poke fun at my emo bullshit, it's a rarity.

I've been seeing friends and experiencing New York's finest. I saw Radiohead at the All Points West festival in Jersey city last friday, my first time in New Jersey actually. Everybody's right, it does kind of smell.

Another highlight was David Byrne's 'Playing the Building'. An installation in the maritime museum on the southern tip of Manhattan. It is an organ in the middle of a large empty room, with these cords running from it to various parts of the building. You hit the keys on the organ and they activate various functions. There were three types: wind, percussion, and motor. You hit a key and, for instance, it would blow air through a pipe making a note ring out on the other side of the room, or you hit another key and behind you a motor would whir and create this droning note or another key would bang on a metal pylon. Very cool stuff.

There is always something going on here. What else? A DIY show in Williamsburg where I saw Growing from Olympia, I guess they moved here, after which we went to a sort of bike-hipster dance party in Bushwick.

I'll try to add more later when I can figure out photos and I'm not stressing on boarding an international flight in a few hours. It's just kind of a mess of events, a little too jumbled to write about. Future posts will be better, I swear!

I leave you with the lyrics to Street Hassle by Lou Reed which is so goddamn apt to New York City (just like, I suppose, everything that guy sings about):

A) waltzing matilda

Waltzing matilda whipped out her wallet
The sexy boy smiled in dismay
She took out four twenties cause she liked round figures
Everybodys a queen for a day
Oh, babe, Im on fire and you know how I admire your -
- body why dont we slip away
Although Im sure youre certain, its a rarity me flirtin
Sha-la-la-la, this way

Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Hey, baby, come on, lets slip away

Luscious and gorgeous, oh what a hunk of muscle
Call out the national guard
She creamed in her jeans as he picked up her means
From off of the formica topped bar
And cascading slowly, he lifted her wholly
And boldly out of this world
And despite peoples derision
Proved to be more than diversion
Sha-la-la-la, later on

And then sha-la-la-la-la, he entered her slowly
And showed her where he was coming from
And then sha-la-la-la-la, he made love to her gently
It was like shed never ever come
And then sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
When the sun rose and he made to leave
You know, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Neither one regretted a thing

B) street hassle

Hey, that cunts not breathing
I think shes had too much
Of something or other, hey, man, you know what I mean
I dont mean to scare you
But youre the one who came here
And youre the one whos gotta take her when you leave
Im not being smart
Or trying to be cold on my part
And Im not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get all emotional
And sometimes, man, they just dont act rational
They think theyre just on tv

Sha-la-la-la, man
Why dont you just slip her away

You know, Im glad that we met man
It really was nice talking
And I really wish that there was a little more time to speak
But you know it could be a hassle
Trying to explain myself to a police officer
About how it was that your old lady got herself stiffed
And its not like we could help
But there was nothing no one could do
And if there was, man, you know I would have been the first
But when someone turns that blue
Well, its a universal truth
And then you just know that bitch will never fuck again
By the way, thats really some bad shit
That you came to our place with
But you ought to be more careful around the little girls
Its either the best or its the worst
And since I dont have to choose
I guess I wont and I know this aint no way to treat a guest
But why dont you grab your old lady by the feet
And just lay her out on the darkened street
And by morning, shes just another hit and run
You know, some people got no choice
And they cant never find a voice
To talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
Why they follow it, you know, its called bad luck

C) slipaway

Believe me, that its just a lie
Thats what she tells her friends
cause the real song, the real song
Which she wont even admit to herself
Beat narrow heart, the song lots of people know
Its a painful song
Itll only say the truth
It lasts for sad songs
Penny for a wish
A wish wont make you a soldier
A pretty kiss or a pretty face
Cant have its way
The tramps like us who were born to play

Love is gone away
And theres no one here now
And theres nothing left to say
But, oh, how I miss him, baby
Oh, baby, come on and slip away
Come on, baby, why dont you slip away

Love is gone away
Took the rings off my fingers
And theres nothing left to say
But, oh how, oh how I need him, baby
Come on, baby, I need you baby
Oh, please dont slip away
I need your loving so bad, babe
Please dont slip away

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 12, 2008 from New York, United States
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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To the Poles!

Dublin, Ireland

This was my first night in Dublin and only one night as I am waiting at the Dublin airport the morning after awaiting my flight to Cork, in the southwest of Ireland. It was also my first couchsurfing experience. My host was an adorable twenty yearold Polish girl from Warsaw named Marta, a transplant just wishing to travel and live some place new, and I figure just sort her life out as we are all wont to do at that age before jumping into a career.

I knocked on her door at 11AM and being her day off she was still sleeping. I let her go back to bed and took a nap myself (a long week in NYC and six hours of jetlag - not even sleeping pills can cure that...). An hour and a half lter she knocks on my door (I lucked out: she had an extra room!) and invites me to take a short train ride out of Dublin to Howth, a small outcropping of land to the northeast of Dublin, with her and her friends for a little hiking on the coast. We walk to her friends', a group of Polish boys all around our age, where Voyt, the most outgoing towards me of the group, tells me of how at some god-awful hour in the morning they were trying to sober up/kick the impending hangover. They decided to paint the common area of their flat. That was their solution. Just imagine a group of shitfaced 20something Polish guys painting their communal common room with the sun coming up outside!... 'How do you think it looks?' he asks me. I must say, they did a pretty good job. It was about one or two in the afternoon and these fellows were already breaking out the Scotch. At this point I knew these kids were obviously a wild bunch, but what I didn't quite expect was that these were to be some of the most loving, affectionate and all around wonderful people I've met. They come from an area in the South of Poland that is very industrial, working class with a lot of mining. There was a whole grip of them, Voytek and Mytek being the ones I talked to most as their english was best and they were the more outgoing ones. So, we make to Howth at around 3 or 4 and it's a beautiful hike with some cliffs and a lighthouse on the coast... yeah yeah, very stereotypically Irish, but beautiful nonetheless.

And as is also very Irish, the rains come down in torrents rather unexpectedly. We're pretty deep into the hike, so we huddle under a nearby copse of trees and finish the whiskey and drink a bottle of wine to try to wait it out. I was reminded of Bothell, huddling in the woods in the rain and drinking... these are my kind of people. After about 40 minutes the booze is gone and the rain is still very present. At this point the drink is normalizing my sort of spacey delirium of jetlag and exhaustion. After a while we realize the rain won't let up and we walk a little ways and catch a bus back to the city center. On the bus we drink another bottle of wine procured at a local shop, obscuring the bottle with a hat for the sake of the camera staring at us from the front of the bus. We get back to the boys' flat and I realize that there's even more Polish in this building, practically a little community of them. We all change clothes and they generously offer me pants, a shirt, shoes... everything really, but I was the most prepared and only needed a pair of socks which were generously offered up in haste.

The plan for the night was to go to a dinner party at Voytek's older brother's girlfiend's flat in Dublin 4 (we've been in Dublin 2 this whole time). I always heard that the Polish had a reputation for being hard workers and hard drinkers and they didn't dissapoint. These kids can drink, and it's a different kind of drinking than I'm used to with friends. There's always a round of shots ready and waiting to slip down the collective throat and they never had to wait very long. I'm pround to say I could keep up, but kept an eye on myself being all too fully aware of my physical state and the forethought of catching a plane the next morning.

The dinner was a spagetthi with meatchunks and was almost as phenominal as the conversation. I didn't want the night to end, talking with people all around the world; Gael the Norman Frenchman, Inez, his beautiful Spanish girlfriend, the Brazilian girl was a darling, though I unfortunately forget her name, and of course the 8 or 9 Polish who were so affectionate for each other and welcoming to me that it really tugged at my heartstrings a little.

I feel like I could write a whole short sroty just about this one night, all the conversations, bridges gapped, spliffs rolled by the Frenchman, the rounds of shots... It was all rather overstimulating for my already boggled senses. I can only hope to stay in touch with at least a few of them (I have my two first foreign facebook friends) and hopefully see them all again when I'm in Dublin in September before I catch my flight from there to Barcelona.

It was an extraordinary introduction to couchsurfing for sure, though I thought it rather amusing that my first night in Ireland I hung out with so many people from all over the world, but not a single Irish person, and also drank not a single pint of Guinness.

A postscript of sorts: I noticed the name on the nose of the plane I boarded to cross the Atlantic to Dublin was named St. Colmcille, the patron saint of Glen Colm Cille in County Donegal, where I stayed with the Ireland Program in 2003. A good omen, I thought.

I'd like to request everyone, the next time they have a drink with their friends, they have a cheer to the Poles!

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 13, 2008 from Dublin, Ireland
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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In Bodhran

Cork, Ireland

I was only in Cork City for a handful of hours but I wrote a few pages while there as I often like to write down my surroundings, the sights, sounds, smells, overheard conversations, descriptions of people, speculations etc. while sitting in a pub with nothing else to do. It's a good writing excercise and can beget many insights in retrospect.

The Velvet Underground's plays 'Venus in Furs in a pub in Cork City. It started pissing down rain as I was looking for an internet cafe to kill time, waiting for a bus that leaves in about three hours from now to Bantry where my first farmstay will pick me up. I guss a downpour is a good enough reason to order a pint of Guinness. As I look around me it looks as if many others are of a similar mindset. Outside, people huddle under awnings, some have umbrellas, some just bear the wet, used to it by now. It's like New York was, random torrential downpours that could last long but usually fizzle out after ten to thirty minutes. It's just a lot more extreme here, and whereas in New York it was warm rain that you knew would end soon, this can get quite cold and has the potential to last for hours.

The bartender just leaned against the back of the bar and said 'I can't take it anymore...' put the remote control to the telly to his head and clicked a button; the power button? the mute? did he change the channel? I guess I'll never know. There is a jolly drunk old man two seats down from me at the bar. There is no shortage of those types here in Ireland. A friend and I decided that jolly old drunks are one of Ireland's main natural resources. I only hope that the rest of the world doesn't catch on to this fact... I pray there will be no jolly old man famine...

I have struck up a conversation with the bartender between his serving other customers... or rather he has just started griping at me about his patrons, just talking to him about mundanities of their life, he doesn't care, damnit! He is Scottish, says he just got drunk one day and came here, and now it's been seven years. Actually he has three stories he's told me and others as to why he's here in Ireland, in another he went to the airport to have drinks at the bar there and to look at the departures list, drunkenly deciding to hop on a plane, just sort of a variation on the first one, and in the final story he claims that he's not welcome in anymore bars in all of Scotland. He seems like the kind of guy that gets drunk all the time or, at least puports to, doesn't remember half of it and makes the rest up on the spot, and to him it might as well be the truth. He is fairly thin with short cropped hair and sharp features. He just took a shot of Jagermeister when he thought no one was looking. He says he doesn't drink whiskey anymore because he just gets too crazy.

A new jolly drunk old man has moved to the seat next to me, the previous one having departed a few minutes ago. This new one is drinking Beamish stout down like it's water. I look at his full pint glass, just ordered, a minute or two later it is gone and he orders another. It's amazing how the Irish can put away this thick stout, also amazing how expensive it is for being the usual drink of choice, the standard price of it being now about 3.70 euro. He started out coherent enough, he said some things to me with the thickest of accents so I couldn't understand but I knew he was making words. Now he is literally bumbling completely unintelligibly 'bubbada bulbada blebbebeedoo...', I kid you not, on and on. It is puntuated occasionally by him laughing to himself, so I think that he's faking it, just getting a kick out of making people feel uncomfortable, the volume of his blathering fluctuating almost reaching a near-yell at some points. The bartender leans to me and says, 'there's some real nutters in this city...' and winks at me.

Farther down the bar are two kind enough fellows around my age but a little older. I never caught their names but I've had a few conversations with them at the bar and while huddling in the doorway outside smoking cigarettes. One of them, with a faux-hawk and scars on his face, just got back from Vegas where he says he paid $150 to shoot a bazooka, says he couldn't pass up the opportunity; I'll call him Vegas for ease of writing from now on. The other, wearing a leather jacket, is being prodded and harassed by some punk-ass I'll call Hilfiger because he's wearing a Tommy Hilfiger sweater. I could tell he was looking for trouble the second I laid eye on him. Through my short experience I've learned there's plenty of these types in Ireland as well. We were outside smoking and Hilfiger was literally stepping on people's toes, Leather Jacket politely tells him to watch out and Hilfiger, this time purposefully, steps on his toes a couple more times. He then taps my toe, leans to me and says 'there's a lot of crazy people in this damn city...', I just roll my eyes and give him a yeah-wouldn't-you-know-it kind of look. Hilfiger then proceeds to position his cigarette behind Leather Jacket's head as if he's gonna just sink it into the back of his neck. Someone notices this and asks the coward 'You alright, mate?' and he desists in his infantile harassment.

Back in the bar Hilfiger is continuing to harass Leather Jacket, putting his fist up to his face repeatedly as if punching his chin. Leather Jacket says to him, 'See that in front of you?' referring to his pint, 'We're here for the same reason, mate.' Hilfiger just continues to harass him, 'Look, I'm trying to be your friend.' I have to give it to Leather Jacket, he has patience, even though I'm sure he knows this Hilfiger isn't one to be reasoned with. He's also harassing Vegas, 'What's wrong with your face?' he asks him, 'it's all fucked up.' Vegas responds that his scars are a result of having cancer removed from his throat, this shuts him up for a bit but then he follows Vegas outside Hilfiger outside to bum a third cigarette from him. I hear, in between the door opening, Vegas refusing to give him another, saying he's losing his patience with him. The door closes and I hear banging and half of me is hoping it's Vegas giving Hilfiger a good beating, finally. But alas, Hilfiger comes back in unscathed. Only to find our faithful bartender has poured out his pint. 'Here's your money back for your pint, mate. I can't serve you anymore. Sorry.' While he was outside, Leather Jacket threatened the bartender that there'd be trouble if Hilfiger kept harassing him, as he surely would have, and the bartender did the right thing and took care of the situation. That was that, Hilfiger left. Vegas came back in and asked the bartender to look after his laptop while he went and 'took care of that punk'. Vegas looks like a guy not to be fucked with, while the scars on his throat are from cancer, the scars on his face look like they're from fighting. He leaves and comes back a little later with a shopping bag with a book in it, maybe he was all talk. While there's plenty of punks like Hilfiger here, there quite outnumbered by the good friendly people always open to newcomers like me, the Hilfigers are only a problem when they roam in packs.

Just before leaving, I'm having a smoke with the bartender. He offers that I should take a break from the farm and come back to this bar some night he's off work, 'I'll take you out for drinks and we'll pick up a couple o' tramps.' I say that sounds good and make my way to the bus station, smiling to myself and thinking 'goddamn I love the Irish.'

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 14, 2008 from Cork, Ireland
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
tagged CorkCity

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First helpstay

Ballydehob, Ireland

I have been at my first helpstay for about three and a half days. Many of my presumptions have been proven wrong. The main one being that this is not an organic farm at all, in fact he hardly grows anything, just some tomatoes, peppermint, and cucumbers, and not much at that. It is the home of a German man named Thomas Wiegandt, he is a musician who's main focus is on African music, though he is interested in everything. He was sort of active in the Krautrock era in the 70s in Germany and has been to Bali, Indonesia to study a little Gamelan. The property is about ten acres or so with two houses he built himself long ago. I'm staying in the one he lives in and right across the way is where his girlfriend Eileen and her two kids Sean and Eva, both about ten to twelve years old, from a past marriage, and Rafael, about three, who is the offspring of Thomas and Eileen. Today, Mora and Leesha arrived who are Thomas's daughters from HIS past marriage. Ok, now pets, there are four cats who live outside who are very nice, two of which I often wake up to in my window which I enjoy and Tippy the dog, also a sweetie. That's all of them. Also, Thomas has a fierce mullet.

I have been working pretty much exclusively on the drive up to the two houses, which is about 100 yards long. It is one of those primitive roads that you see all over Ireland. There is a patch of grass in the center and for the tires of cars are two strips consisting of rocks and dirt and gravel. On the sides are the age old Irish walls simply made of rocks stacked upon each other. My work involves taking up sod on any side that is becoming too narrow for cars and trucks, carting it in a wheelbarrow somewhere else and dumping it. Then if the ground beneath the sod has become compromised, that is, if it's soil that grass may grow up on again or if there are holes, or if it's too slippery, I arrange rocks upon it in such a way that it is flat. I imagine that it's like building the Irish rock walls (which is something I'd like to do at some point), but a lot more simple. This is the kind of road that you take for granted until you realize how much work is required to maintain it. I also trim back the brambles, or blackberry bushes, if you will... this is a job I'm not too keen on. They are constantly fighting their way onto the drive, and as we all know, they are fucking relentless and grow like mad. It's the kind of work that always needs doing, but no one wants to do it.

Sometimes I help mind Rafael, who is a handful and talks and talks and talks. He seems to have taken to me quite well, he'll come up to me and say 'Hi dan hi dan hi dan...' ad infinitum.

The weather here is still absolutely terrible. It was my first day off on sunday and I was hoping to do a little hiking or hitchike to the nearest town, either Bantry or Ballydehob, but no. It didn't stop raining all fucking day. Though, when I'm working it has no problem being relatively nice and dry, ah well, Murphy's Law right? It's cold and wet here. The exception being Saturday, luckily enough, as we went to the annual Ballydehob street festival. Ballydehob is just up the way, a town of about 1,500 or so. The festival took place on the small main street which is on a hill. The whole thing was all quite silly, really. The first event was for the kids, it was a turnip race in which the youngsters have to throw a turnip up the hill race after it, pick it up again, throw it, and repeat the process until reaching the finish line. The second event was the dog races, in which dogs of varying sizes raced up the hill, quite a lark. And the final event, my favorite, was the wheelbarrow race. This was for the adults and they had to push their partner up the hill in a wheelbarrow and stop at a station where the rider has to chug a bottle of beer before they continue up to the next station, of which I think there were two or three. At the end of it all, Rubicon, a celtic rock band played on the back of a truck. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the band, the electric fiddle player had a cordless device set up, so he could rip it up on the fiddle and mix in with the crowd. Grand.

On sunday, we went to Fossett's circus, Ireland's national circus. It was kind of standard Barnum and Bailey's style fare, but smaller and very well done with all the clowns, acrobats, trapeze artists, the big round metal cage with the motorcycles going round and round in it as the finale. I was picked by the clown to participate (the second I made eye contact I knew I was in for it) in a little stunt in which I and three other men of similar size were made to sit in four chairs arranged so as we could each lean onto the other's lap. At which point, the clown pulled out each chair one by one until we were laying down on each other with our knees at right angles supporting ourselves with nothing else holding us up. It was a laugh riot. Grand.

With all the shitty weather I've just been reading a lot, really. Upon moving into my room I found that a previous WOOFER left Dave Eggers's 'What is the What' and decided to give it a try. I attempted his 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius' but got 3/4 through and found it intolerably egotistical (yes, I know this is alluded to in the title, self-referentiality whoopdeedoo, even taking this into condideration, I found it absolutely asinine), conceited and trite. But I find I'm rather addicted to this one. Eggers adopts the subject's almost childlike way of speaking and it's quite refreshing, not to mention it escapes everything I hated about 'Heartbreaking Work...' As depressing as the subject matter is, it's deeply moving and enjoyable to read. I'm almost done already.

I am now without facial hair. No more 'stache. It's been a few days and I still think it looks weird and surprising when I see my reflection. I'm sure you'll be happy, Deidre.

One last thing: the stars. At night the clouds seem to clear up more often than during the day and I'm thankful for it. It reaveals a blanket of stars that I'm used to having to trek to the mountains to see. I found this to be the case in Donegal also. It's not that populated out here or in Donegal, and thus the light pollution is not that bad. The towns are far more simple than ones, even the smaller ones, in the states because they're far older. It's beautiful and I find it wonderfully refreshing to see.

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 20, 2008 from Ballydehob, Ireland
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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Galway, Ireland

It was, without a doubt, the nicest day in Ireland I've experienced on this trip. Good thing too as it was my first attempt at a long-haul hitchhiking trip. It wasn't all coming up roses, though. Following direction from a hitchhiking wiki (the infamous wiki... never to be trusted again) I took a bus to the outskirts of Cork, where it was said I'll be on the road to Limerick. My goal for the day was Galway, about 110 miles I approximate; a little ambitious, given I had a bit of a late start, around 1:30, and these are all roads I don't know at all. I stood thumbing, with a sign that said "Limerick! ...or... Galway!" for about two hours, changing locations, trying to deduce where to best hitch with the turnoffs on the road around me. Finally a man stopped and informed me I'll have no luck on this road as it's the old Cork-Limerick Road that no one really uses anymore. He dropped me off at the main road about a half mile away where I ran into another backpackerk, in his 40s probably, dressed fully in camouflage, saying he was going to Dublin in a thick unidentifiable accent. I thought it was a little strange as he was heading north like I was and Dublin was to the east, but I didn't say anything. In a half hour I caught a lift with a youngish redheaded Irish fellow who nearly caused a three car pile up when he stopped for me. He took me as far as Mallow, about 30 km up the road.

While thumbing in Mallow I was thanking the gods for the good weather as I was coming down with a cold, when a bee stung me on my finger as I was brushing it from my shirtsleeve. I was brought back to 8th grade english class, the last time I was stung by a bee, also from a bee in my shirtsleeve. I noticed it there and stood up and started flailing around trying to get it out. No one took me seriously because I was a bit of a class clown back then. So, feeling an odd combination of misery and blessedness in my situation I waited about 45 minutes until an Englishman from South Africa picked me up and took me as far as Buttevant, about 20 km south of Limerick. In Buttevant, a bit of a ghost town, about half of all the shops abandoned, it was about 4PM, when once again I ran into my fellow hitchhiker friend. "I though you were going to Dublin!" I said to him. "I don't speak language," he said, "from Chech Repooblic." I realized he might not even know where he was going, just rambling in the truest sense of the word. He just said Dublin earlier because it was the only city he knew of in Ireland, an automatic response. He put two fingers to his mouth in the international symbol for a cigarette, I let him roll one, and he goes about 50 yard down the road and sticks his thumb out. Fifteen minutes later a guy of about 30 years stops and says, "You goin' to Galway?" I says to him "Hell yeah!" and hop in. Jackpot. This came at a point when I was resigning myself to staying the night in Limerick, about the halfway point between Cork and Galway. I realize that my wasted two hours on the wrong road helped deliver me to this point, to be at the right place at the right time to catch this straightaway spin all the way to my destination.

His name was Karreth, he works and lives in Cork City, and was on his way to Galway to see his family for the weekend. I really lucked out with him, we had great conversation and even smoked a spliff. He drove me all the way into Galway city, even though where he was going was in the suburbs. "Don't go too far out of your way for me..." I said to him, to which he responded with something akin to what I feel I would say, "What, it's ten minutes out of my life and I'm helping someone out" We xchanged email addresses and parted ways. He dropped me off at an internet cafe where I checked for any responses to my last minute couchsurfing requests. No such luck, so I stayed in a hostel and took it easy for the night. I walked around aimlessly for a bit and ran into a couple of rickshaw drivers and got a promising lead on where to rent them and make a little bit of money...

Yesterday I woke up, checked out of the hostel and found a positive response to my many couchsurfing requests. I followed up on the rickshaw lead before meeting with my host and my hopes were dashed away, all the rickshaws were booked up through the week, I walked off disappointed, but the guy called me back saying he had one available at 7:30 or 8 that night. Shit yeah.

I met my host at 4:30, another Pole. His name is Paluch and he lives real close to the city centre. When I returned to the rickshaw place, the bossman was a no-show... I knew it was too good to be true. I had given him Paluch's phone number and he called around 10, saying he had one still, but it was a case of too little too late. Hopefully he'll call sometime next week... I was really really looking forward to driving a rickshaw around Galway.

I'm now at internet cafe, where I'm getting free usage from Paluch's Australian roommate who works here. Galway is a great city, very similar to Rennes in France. It's known as a the party city of Ireland, there are two universities here. I'll stay here for about a week, Teagan will arrive on the 2nd, then we'll head to Wicklow.

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 30, 2008 from Galway, Ireland
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
tagged HitchHiking and Galway

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Glenealy, Ireland


permalink written by  Dan Schoo on October 6, 2008 from Glenealy, Ireland
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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Dublin, Ireland


permalink written by  Dan Schoo on October 6, 2008 from Dublin, Ireland
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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Barcelona, Spain


permalink written by  Dan Schoo on October 6, 2008 from Barcelona, Spain
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
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