I, Traveller

by anjel on October 5, 2009

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(photo scenery)
We stopped at the side of the road and laid flat on our backs. I stretched out my arms and legs doing my best impressing of a
star fish and looked up into the sky. The last long stretch of the 14 mile first leg of the Dingle Way from Tralee to Camp had
been a trough of mud and cow pies that we now call the “Cow Turlette.” Our ankles and feet where sore from jumping from tiny
rock to grass patch trying our best to only sink two to three inches into the muck instead of five or six. This was not easy since
we were each carrying 40 – 50 lbs of weight at least–which is way too much for trekking the Dingle, but not so much if it is all
you have in the world. Laying there, with extremely sore feet and legs,  I couldn’t help but wonder what we thought we were
doing. I’d been looking forward to the trek as a way to literally get a feel for the country, slowing the pace down enough so I
could actually take some time to think about where I was and what I was seeing, and meeting and chatting up locals we met
along the road. Of course, the scenery had been beautiful all along the walk tracing the coastline from the hillside, the
mountain sheep were fascintating with their Roschach-like facial markings, the ancient tombs and standing stones were
fascinating and unguarded–but fatigue and feces have a way of dimming beauty and experience in the moment.
(photo cow turlette)
Since Ireland was the first out of country stop, our expectations for the country itself, the overall trip and how we wanted to
travel hadn’t really been formed yet and probably won’t be for some time. It took at least a month and a half of solid travel and
a week of sleeping in a different place every night to truly realize that we were not going home any time soon, and that any
expectations and notions we might have are just ideas in our heads.
While making dinner in a hostel in Cork, I talked to a 23 year old Canadian woman who had been working for a few years here
and there around Europe since graduating from University. I must have sounded idiodic and arrogant when I told her, no I am
not really interested in working as a waitress or in a hostel answering phones, and that I really just want to not work at all and
just BE. When she gave me a funny look and turned away saying, “Well, you should definitely take advantage of your student
discounts while you can then,” I finally realized that she thought she was older than me and was giving me advice. I was too
exhausted to correct her by saying, no no, I am a 33 year old recovering workaholic paying FULL PRICE to sleep in a dorm
bunk bed big enough for an eight year old. Even if I did decide to be a college student again, for the third time, the discounts
don’t usually apply after age 25 anyway. Adding that I had had a “real” job and could probably, hopefully, I think, get another
even in this economy, would have just sounded bitchy and a little desperate. So, I stared at her and nodded, “Yeeeah.” Then she
said, “We, travelers…” I don’t remember what she said after that, I was so shocked by the immediate conversion of that
statement into, “I, Traveler.” It both freaked me out and made me feel like I would explode with excitement. It gave me a label
for myself, but I do not know what it means.
I thought about “I, Traveler” all that first walking day, which I should mention sounds more like a life form discovering self-
consciousness than the more dignified, “I, Claudius.” I also had the excerpt on Yeat’s tombstone running in the background,
which we had visited a few days earlier:
Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by.
(Yeats tombstone)
I don’t know the larger context of this poem at all, but those lines stuck with me. As the grave visitor, horseman, or traveller,  I
was doing the exact opposite. I was chasing my own verson of life and “authenticity,” whatever that might mean, through the
Cow Turlette. This trip was inspired by death, namely that of my and Conn’s father. I was passing by, but looking around
expectantly at all times. Heartbreakingly, I think Conn half expected to find Frank there or atleast a way to connect with him
to ease the sense of complete loss that he has been feeling for the past eight months. The desire was to experience a memory
again, so that it could live again. A rapidly changing Ireland, especially with the influence of the E.U., made this next to
impossible. You can no longer just plummet off the Cliffs of Mohar if you dared to get too close. There is a protective barrier
there now. A gorgeously designed barrier and visitors center, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed that I could only
peak over the walls after hearing Conn’s earlier descriptions. It felt like forced spectatorship. Why did change, in this case to
generate needed revenue, to protect the natural landscape and to prevent people from killing themselves accidently, seem so
wrong?
(photo cliffs of mohar)
As I thought about Yeat’s tombstone, I think because I needed it to, the poem then started to take on the meaning to just observe
life around you and observe changes in life without desperation or sadness. It happens. It’s part of it. As a traveller, I should just
observe and pass by–nevermind, the barriers. As a person recovering from loss, I shouldn’t hang on to the tragedy of my
father’s life or the unfairness of Frank’s death, I should just go on living.
In the end, I think adventures work out better this way.
We finally got up from the road and threw our packs on, and started the last stretch into town.  That’s when we saw the first
person other than ourselves in eight hours. The elderly man was slowly walking up the road towards us, and our first reaction
was to run at him yelling, “OH MY GOD, HEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!” We didn’t, but instead stopped to talk and ask for advice and
directions. Just seeing his smiling face, gave us energy. We passed a few more people out for walks, each stopping to talk to us.
A few dogs as well, who are well mannered enough to run up for a pet and a sniff, then continue on their way–they seem to
lead very busy lives. When we got into town, we asked around for a place to camp and the corner pub happened to have a field
out back complete with showers. Since our stove wasn’t working (which is a different story involving my puncturing the gas
can) and since we had had such a long day, we decided to have a meal and pint in the pub.
(photo in the pub)
Sitting there in the small, dark wooden room next to a lit fireplace, writing in my travel journal while sipping on a Guinness
has to be one of the greatest moments in my life. The questions about “why” disappeared and I was absolutely content in the
moment.
Cast a cold Eye
On Scenery, on Cow Turlettes.
Traveller, go to an Irish Pub.

DSCN3792

We stopped at the side of the road and laid flat on our backs. I stretched out my arms and legs doing my best impression of a star fish and looked up into the sky. The last long stretch of the 14 mile first leg of the Dingle Way from Tralee to Camp had been a trough of mud and cow pies that we now call the “Cow Turlette.” Our ankles and feet where sore from jumping from tiny rock to grass patch trying our best to only sink two to three inches into the muck instead of five or six. This was not easy since we were each carrying 40 – 50 lbs of weight at least–which is way too much for trekking the Dingle, but not so much if it is all you have in the world. Laying there, with extremely sore feet and legs,  I couldn’t help but wonder what we thought we were doing.

I’d been looking forward to the trek as a way to literally get a feel for the country, slowing the pace down enough so I could actually take some time to think about where I was and what I was seeing, and meeting and chatting up locals we met along the road. Of course, the scenery had been beautiful all along the walk tracing the coastline from the hillside, the mountain sheep were intriguing with their Rorschach-like facial markings, the ancient tombs and standing stones were fascinating and unguarded–but fatigue and feces have a way of dimming beauty and experience in the moment.

Cow Turlette

Since Ireland was the first out of country stop, our expectations for the country itself, the overall trip and how we wanted to travel hadn’t really been formed yet and probably won’t be for some time. It took at least a month and a half of solid travel and a week of sleeping in a different place every night to truly realize that we were not going home any time soon, and that any expectations and notions we might have are just ideas in our heads.

While making dinner in a hostel in Cork, I talked to a 23 year old Canadian woman who had been working for a few years here and there around Europe since graduating from University. I must have sounded idiodic and arrogant when I told her, no I am not really interested in working as a waitress or in a hostel answering phones, and that I really just want to not work at all and just BE. When she gave me a funny look and turned away saying, “Well, you should definitely take advantage of your student discounts while you can then,” I finally realized that she thought she was older than me and was giving me advice. I was too exhausted to correct her by saying, no no, I am a 33 year old recovering workaholic paying FULL PRICE to sleep in a dorm bunk bed big enough for an eight year old. Even if I did decide to be a college student again, for the third time, the discounts don’t usually apply after age 25 anyway. Adding that I had had a “real” job and could probably, hopefully, I think, get another even in this economy, would have just sounded bitchy and a little desperate. So, I stared at her and nodded, “Yeeeah.” Then she said, “We, travelers…” I don’t remember what she said after that, I was so shocked by the immediate conversion of that statement into, “I, Traveler.” It both freaked me out and made me feel like I would explode with excitement. It gave me a label for myself, but I do not know what it means.

I thought about “I, Traveler” all that first walking day, which I should mention sounds more like a life form discovering self-consciousness than the more dignified, “I, Claudius.” I also had the excerpt on Yeat’s tombstone running in the background, which we had visited a few days earlier:

Cast a cold Eye

On Life, on Death.

Horseman, pass by.

DSCN3479

I don’t know the larger context of this poem at all, but those lines stuck with me. As the grave visitor, horseman, or traveller,  I was doing the exact opposite. I was chasing my own verson of life and “authenticity,” whatever that might mean, through the Cow Turlette. This trip was inspired by death, namely that of my and Conn’s father. I was passing by, but looking around expectantly at all times. Heartbreakingly, I think Conn half expected to find Frank there or atleast a way to connect with him to ease the sense of complete loss that he has been feeling for the past eight months. The desire was to experience a memory again, so that it could live again. A rapidly changing Ireland, especially with the influence of the E.U., made this next to impossible. You can no longer just plummet off the Cliffs of Mohar if you dared to get too close. There is a protective barrier there now. A gorgeously designed barrier and visitors center, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed that I could only peak over the walls after hearing Conn’s earlier descriptions. It felt like forced spectatorship. Why did change, in this case to generate needed revenue, to protect the natural landscape and to prevent people from killing themselves accidently, seem so wrong?

Cliffs of Mohar

Visitor's Center

As I thought about Yeat’s tombstone, I think because I needed it to, the poem then started to take on the meaning to just observe life around you and observe changes in life without desperation or sadness. It happens. It’s part of it. As a traveller, I should just observe and pass by–nevermind, the barriers. As a person recovering from loss, I shouldn’t hang on to the tragedy of my father’s life or the unfairness of Frank’s death, I should just go on living.

In the end, I think adventures work out better this way.

We finally got up from the road and threw our packs on, and started the last stretch into town.  That’s when we saw the first person other than ourselves in eight hours. The elderly man was slowly walking up the road towards us, and our first reaction was to run at him yelling, “OH MY GOD, HEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!” We didn’t, but instead stopped to talk and ask for advice and directions. Just seeing his smiling face, gave us energy. We passed a few more people out for walks, each stopping to talk to us. A few dogs as well, who are well mannered enough to run up for a pet and a sniff, then continue on their way–they seem to lead very busy lives. When we got into town, we asked around for a place to camp and the corner pub happened to have a field out back complete with showers. Since our stove wasn’t working (which is a different story involving my puncturing the gas can) and since we had had such a long day, we decided to have a meal and pint in the pub.

The Pub

Sitting there in the small, dark wooden room next to a lit fireplace, writing in my travel journal while sipping on a Guinness has to be one of the greatest moments in my life. The questions about “why” disappeared and I was absolutely content in the moment.

Cast a cold Eye

On Scenery, on Cow Turlettes.

Traveller, go to an Irish Pub.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 myap October 5, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Ah, enjoy those Guinness moments — I know exactly what you are describing, they come too far and few between. I hope they find you more often on the road than behind the desk.

Reply

2 Daniel McGuire October 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Charmed life Anjel!! You deserve it!!

Reply

3 kate October 20, 2009 at 5:28 am

anjel, this was wonderful — thanks.

Reply

4 anjel October 20, 2009 at 11:27 am

thanks, kate. glad to see you are reading along 🙂

Reply

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