‘The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass,
Came dazzling around, into the rocks,
Came glinting, sifting from the Americas
To posess Aran. Or did Aran rush
to throw wide arms of rock around a tide
That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?
Did sea define the land or land the sea?
Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.’
~~ Seamus Heaney
It’s been several months since the trip to Inishmore my husband and I went on together with our friends in May. It was supposed to be a trip of pure adventure: cycling the country routes, climbing the rocky hills (on two wheels), enjoying the wilderness and the sea with the freaky waves during the high tide and beautiful golden sunsets. The expectations were set high. I should have remembered, though, that this is Ireland, and you can never rely on weather forecasts here, especially when looking in advance. With over 6 years of experience I should have known better. But ah well…
Our trip started with a crazy trip on ferry. The weather was miserable from the very early morning – it’s been raining almost non-stop, and the ferry departure time was in line with the high tide, but we didn’t know that. Very clever, we took the first two rows of seats in the front part of the boat, and the rest of the trip seemed like we were on rollercoaster. Sometimes the waves were higher than we could see. The boat was thrown from side to side, and I really wished there was a seatbelt of some sort. The sign on the wall before me said No Chewing Gum Allowed. While all chewing gums, we laughed about it in the beginning – no chewing gum allowed to avoid swallowing and choking on it. Later on the way, it didn’t seem funny anymore. I wished I hadn’t had that gum, because I actually was afraid to choke on it. By the time we were half-way through, the ride became even crazier. The screams sounded from everywhere – the French tourists behind us, ladies on the other side of the boat and at the back. Poor children cried, probably feeling nauseous.
Totally out of shape, we were happy to arrive to Inishmore, but soon we were dissapointed to discover that the hotel was not as close to the pier as we thought and we had to walk under the rain for about 20 minutes until we found it. Despite of all our begging, the hotel couldn’t check us in before the check-in time, because it was too busy after a wedding the night before, so we had to change into cycling/hiking gear in the restrooms, leave the bags at the reception and go search for a bike rental shop. What’s the point of sitting in the bar for two hours?
The bikes were easy to find, and they were all good bikes, except for mine. I chose a smaller one so I felt more comfortable in hopping off it in case I couldn’t control it anymore, and I regretted it for the whole trip. By the way, I used to be really good at cycling. I was only four when I learned to ride a two-wheel bike, and in ten years of riding I can’t remember more than 5 falls. And all those five were really silly ones – rode on a boulder while avoiding a puddle, scared of a butterfly, scared of a bee which got caught in my hair… Actually, that’s three falls. But ten years without setting my foot on a pedal can do wonders – apparently, I was scared of everything – cars, pedestrians, other cyclists. Riding downhill on a rocky road turned out to be a real freaking out experience as well as visiting the Wormhole. I wish I had pictures of the Wormhole, but my friend (a photographer, too) and I got really scared at the Wormhole because, again, it was the high tide and the weather was quite stormy. The area is so wild that there was not a soul around us, no reception, the closest houses are a distance away. And the realisation that the waves can rise up to the top of a cliff well above our heads was mortifying.
The weather was real strange those two days – greyish, but okay in the mornings, pouring during the day hours and clear and even sunny, but windy and chilly in the evenings. Both days of our stay we got soaking wet while cycling and had no will to ride the bikes in the evening, so it was perfect time for hiking. The weather changed to a clear and sunny one only when we were on the boat sailing back to Galway.
Despite many drawbacks, it is almost the end of July and I still can’t forget those beautiful landscapes of the largest of Aran Islands. There is so much to see there, and two days (plus bad weather) are not enough to explore it all. We only saw two landmarks – the Wormhole and the Black Fort, but there are also sandy beaches and the fishers’ port that I would love to see. I hope that one day we will go back there and the weather will be nice and summery, the bike I will ride will be good and comfy. Until then I am left with the memories of the island that can almost take you back in time, which makes it impossible to ferget.