Sentindo: CAUSA EA ACCION
(Translation: Feeling all cause and action).
After Belfast we climbed aboard the bus for an hour long coach ride up the coast to our next destination, The Giant’s Causeway. On the way we saw a few Game of Thrones filming locations in the Dun Luce Castle (House of Greyjoy) and Ballintoy (Village of Pyke). (Entirely lost on me I’m afraid – not a Game of Thrones fan).
So. What is the Giant’s Causeway?(Hereafter, GC).
First, the facts: as Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the GC is a majestic natural spectacle of more than 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt rock columns. Science tells us that it was formed more than 60 million years ago as a result of series of volcanic eruptions and tectonic plate activity, but colourful folklore denotes a different story.
Apparently, many many moons ago, there was a rather strapping fella – ok, a massive giant – called Finn McCool, who lived in Northern Ireland. Finn was having a bit of bother with another giant living across the North Sea in Scotland, a geezer by the name of Benandonn. Benandonn was talking smack about he was going to come and beat Finny the fuck up (paraphrasing, obviously). It enraged Mr McCool so much so that he started uprooting chunks of the Antrim and chucking them in the sea to formulate a path, so he could trundle along the sea and go and teach Benandonn a lesson.
On completion of his walkway, Finn hurtled towards Scotland; on arrival, he saw the frighteningly gargantuan Benandonn was even bigger than himself, so he made a hasty retreat home – unbeknownst to Benandonn.
As always, the women in the story save the day: Finn’s missus disguised him as a baby, and when Benandonn arrived looking to fist up Finn (not best choice of words there, but please take them in context) she told him the “baby” was her and Finn’s son. Benandonn had a fair freak out – if his kid was this colossal, what size would his baby daddy be? – and legged it back over the sea, tearing up the path as he went. Thus, Giant’s Causeway.
We pulled up at the site and swarms of passengers from mine and other buses around started heading down the sweeping driveway to the phenomena. Dustin and I went to follow, then saw two seriously steep hills to our left. “Bro, shall we climb them?” I asked. So we did.
Mate, it was spectacular. Not just the view and the adrenaline inducing sensation of sitting right on the edge of a cliff, but the fucking fun jumping up and down on the grass.
Yes, the grass. It was so springy and spongy, like a terrific turf trampoline. You know those massive bouncy playground things, not the castle ones but the big fuck off slides? Well this was one of them in Irish rugged landscape form. I had a deadly time sliding down the hillside and gamboling about the lush lands. “I have never met a girl as adventurous as you before, who does stuff like this,” Dustin said.
Isn’t that amazing? I mean, many girls probably wouldn’t be quite so kid like as I was (twas reliving my elation from a young lass at Lollipop’s Playland), but for the most part the vast majority of females I know would’ve been on board for a bit of a hill bop. It really interests me the differences between sexes of different cultures and how we are all viewed from the grass on the other side.
After we had conquered all the hilltops and cliff faces, Dustin and I headed on down to see Finn’s footpath. I was surprised; for some reason I thought it was going to be, well, gigantic, but it was actually like stepping stones.
It reminded me of the agility course back in the day of Mt Carmel Primary School, where a couple of tree stumps started the obstacles to nail. Then on closer inspection, I was transported back to making dinner for the kids I used to babysit; the formations looked like parts of cut up sausages on a plate. And then I had a vision of a piece of pepperoni pizza; you know how the chorizo like sort of upturns and curls at the edges when cooked? The rocks looked like that.
It was truly like an adults’ playground. Middle aged men were jumping about in glee from one stone to the next. Late-aged ladies were almost hopscotching along the seaside. It’s like all self preservations and guards fell away, and I was back in the Avalon Kindy sandpit. (Though this time I wasn’t bossing everyone around and wearing a cardboard crown). It was incredible. Hundreds and hundreds of people (OK, maybe like one hundred, 150 max. I’m pretty not in tune with guessing how many people are in a place at once unless I can easily count them. One time I was asked how many people were at a certain place and I said, “Oh, about 250 maybe?”. Later on it was revealed there had in fact been a good 1000. So I could be on point. I could not. But there were lots) delighting in the spectacle that came about by nothing more than nature doing its thing.
I’m all one for fawning over an elaborately adorned building or an imposingly steep skyscraper, don’t get me wrong. Man made stuff can be rather rad. But I firmly feel that it’s those that come about by the earth itself are the most amazing. Like, the cliffs wrapping round the coast were not chiseled out with a (what kind of tool? Pick? Wrench? Mallet? Let’s go with…) Fiskars Splitting Axe X27 (cheers, Mitre 10 online) or hammered in with nails. They were made by the sea cavorting in again and again and eroding the shit out them. Truly and grandly imposingly beautiful.
Dustin and his fam and everyone else from the tour shuttled back up to the pub up top for lunch, whereupon I decided to gallivant off by myself and climb a massive hill so I could overlook it all from above. After a (very pant-inducing) skidaddle up many many stairs and hill fronts (off the beaten track mate) I got to the point at the very top.
I was instilled by this insane sense of awe. Like, how fucking incredible is this world? I was all joyous and laughing like a maniac, just in love with life, when I suddenly realised I was alone, on the edge of a very steep cliff and one slight misstep (very likely with my clumsiness, especially what with my Chucks not having the greatest amount of tread) could have me catapulting over the side. Then I clocked eye (shortsighted one) on the time and saw I had a mere 17 minutes to get back to the bus before it departed, so i needed to get my sprint on. (Nailed it with three minutes to spare, and only one trip up instance resulting in very muddy pants but no bother).
We then drove the ten minutes or so to the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, a, well, rope bridge that traverses a 30m deep and 20m wide chasm to connect the mainland to Carrick-A-Rede Island. After trotting across the crazy high fuck off one in Nepal bridges don’t overly bother me anymore, but it was super swell to watch the faces of all of the others who were not so keen on crossing, and their elation at making to the other side.
And the views, my word the views. Breath takingly beautiful. Being from NZ I thought I was sort if not immune then very dulled down to the magic of landscape scenes, but this stuff blew my mind. Everything twinkled, sparkled and instilled a sense of serenity, and being such a beautiful clear day, even Scotland showed up across the waterway.
I went back to the bus a little earlier than everyone else and had a great old pow wow with Paddy the bus driver. (Lovely lad charged my phone with the bus cigarette lighter power plug, what a champ). I was blown away when he said, “And what are you Kiwis doing! Why’d you not change the flag?”
It’s remarkable how many times I’ve received comments on the whole flag debacle since I’ve been in Europe, particularly Ireland. I’d say a good six or seven. (As well as an article on it in the Evening Standard). People are genuinely perplexed as to why we voted to troddle on with the Union Jack-esque design; “Don’t you want to have your own identity?” I’ve been asked; “You’re well known in your own right, why not have your own flag to represent that?” on another. I think it’s pretty fucking cool that aside from the fact these people are aware of what’s going on in little old NZ, they view us as such an independent in its own right little nation that deserves to have a flag flying to represent that. (Yes I did vote to change the flag. Though it took a few pros and cons lists to decide. But being over here, it made me feel very strongly about going forth with the change. Just not any of the options offered).
Paddy and I bantered for a wee while longer (more so that I could just listen to his lovely lilt, to be honest) then it was time to set off home.
Earlier in the day I had been writing an abundance of postcards for packs of pals back home. Dustin had commented on how he hadn’t sent a postcard in about ten years, so I gave him two to note and send on their way. He wrote one to his “mom” then addressed the second to himself; “Can you write me a message?” He asked. I agreed, saying he couldn’t read it until it got home to him in California though.
Upon turning home I promptly fell asleep for half an hour (once again in my favoured position of folding over myself) and came to to find Dustin looking out the window with tears streaming down his face. When I asked what was wrong, he replied, “This place is so beautiful. I don’t want to go home.”
He said about how the beauty of the landscape had just dumbstruck him. How he’d never seen anything like it before, and it had made something in him shift.
“And I read your postcard,” he admitted. “I’m sorry, it was just sitting there and I couldn’t resist.”
Throughout the day Dustin and I had had a fair few yarns on a number of topics like religion, education, society, all that sort of jazz. When I told him some of the tools I employ, with my affirmations and daily feel good scrapbook and what not, he’d found it all really incentivizing and said he wanted to start doing things like that.
In his postcard I’d just jotted down some Wort wisdom and such lark. How it had been rad to be present to see his reaction to the GC and cliffs and what not. And just some afflatus to go ahead, clench the firearm and go after the goals he told me he wants to nail.
He looked at me with all seriousness and said, “I really think that you and Ireland are going to change my life. You are so inspiring.”
And you know what? That felt fucking grand. Although I know I come across as confident and self assured, and in some instances I admit I am, for the most part I struggle with insecurities and dreads and worries and woes. To know that you can spark a sense of stimulus and spur in another person by none other than just being you is pretty bloody warm fuzzy inducing.
We got back to Dublin at about 8.30pm, and I was absolutely knackered. I toddled back to my hostel, had the second fabbest shower of my life (nothing comes close to the first one in two weeks after doing Base Camp) and went to bed (where I stayed up catching up on posts until 1am).
Tomorrow will be my last day to do Dublin and I’m feeling rather glum. I feel on return home (wherever that may well be), I shall be like one of those Irish lads in a bar singing sweet songs of the homeland; though it my case, it’ll be me destroying lyrics and singing for Ireland.
Each day my love just Dub(lin)bles.
(No. That didn’t work. Apologies)