Okay so this was fun and here’s how it went.
I finished my trip leading season on Friday, October 9th in Tuscany.
The trip went well and all was good and gravy and I tried to go home and go to sleep but ended up in a van going up into the hills with a really, really silly group of other Thrilling Adventures leaders.
We got lost and I claimed to know where we were going and started giving directions in the severe Thrilling Adventures method and everyone was laughing and free and done with taking care of people for a long time and we took turns pretending to be guests and asking the same silly questions that we answer every single day and in that moment it crashed on me that on every trip that I’m having a hard time there are a hundred other Thrilling Adventures leaders having the same silly conversation with someone in Peru or Vermont or China or right here in Italy.
We reached the top of a rise and whooped through a roundabout and I had to admit that I had no idea where I was going and someone called the Capo that means boss in Italian also top of hill and he gave us directions and we continued up the hill and arrived at the capo and his smiling Italian landlords handed out glasses of wine and a dozen other Thrilling Adventures vans also whooped in and someone had the idea that we’d do a blind wine tasting and we did that but mainly took pictures and tried not to fall into the Tuscan fall evening.
I’m not sure what that means but it made sense when I wrote it and it made sense then so I’ll keep it there above this sentence.
All in all there was
A) a huge table covered with a checkered tablecloth
B) Unlimited amounts of red wine
C) An apperitivo plate with sliced meats and bread and olive oils and something else too I can’t remember
D) a lasagna that was made by the wife of Jeff’s landlord which was brought out by an army of cousins and uncles and nonnos and Zias and finally the woman herself, who was met with thunderous applause. Ka boom.
E) Cigarettes smoked and then
F) A second course of wild boar
G) A birthday cake sung out and given and eaten
H) Cheeses and soups and a wild dance party that erupted in the center of the living room and went on for hours
I) An accordian
J) A French leader who could play accordion very well
K) A room full of grand sentimental Italian men who knew every word of every ancient accordion driven Italian song and danced traditional Italian dances slowly to accordion music as cigarette smoke drifted in through the windows and people slowly trailed out and found their way into one van or the other and then we went home down the hill to the leader house.
So I had no time to pack because I was well I drank too much red wine and I woke up way way way too late to catch my train but packed like mad and fortunately caught a ride to the train station with two other leaders and missed the train that I really needed to catch to Florence.
Oh yeah, I was going to Dublin to see Elliott and Noah. I was catching a train to another train to a shuttle to the airport to a flight to another shuttle to Trinity College in Dublin.
I ran into the airport in Bologna and thrust my passport at a woman who was trying to close the check in and she sighed and let me get on the flight and away I was.
In Dublin I met Elliott and Noah and Elliott’s’ girlfriend and a whole lot of Canadian girls and one Canadian guy and we taught them kings’ cup in a circle on the floor of a dorm room with two of my best friends from College and suddenly I felt like I was in college again, except I was coming from my job in Italy and Elliott is going to be a doctor and Noah is headed to life in Spain but one thing remained the same.
I drew the fucking last king. Again.
We ran from the dorms as they became too small for us and wandered out into downtown Dublin. I was hysterically sleep deprived still and hadn’t had dinner yet but found a burger king as my friends waited in line for the club and came out and ate whoppers until the bouncer grabbed it from me and threw it on the ground because well mate you can’t eat in here but I was almost done so I didn’t mind.
We drank and danced and watched the club howl when U2 came on and eventually left and Noah and I found ourselves at a friend of Elliott’s’ and slept.
The next day we bought clothes and watched a terrible movie and enjoyed it immensely and went back to the Guinness factory with a sky bar and immaculate views of Dublin and James Joyce quotes on the windows and god damn it why is this always the best pint of Guinness in the world?
But it was again.
We ate mashed potatoes (mashers! Hahahaha yes) and gravy and more Guinness (apparently, Guinness is mainly an old man drink for the Irish. Huh) and then we were done with Dublin and Elliott had to study so Noah and I grabbed a bus and he tried to play music in the train station but was cheerfully accused of trying to busk by a homeless man and then we got on the train to Galway.
On our second day there I wrote a few pages in my moleskin with a nice pen that smears black ink when I accidentally run my hand over the pages to keep them from flipping in the cold sea wind.
Green gentle explosions of sloping hills craig downward into the coldest looking water that I’ve ever seen and so I decide to write for a bit.
We spilled out of a train onto the streets of Glasgow last night and asked passerby where this or that street was and clutched a handwritten map in fingerless gloves and then we met Gob.
Gob arrived on an old pink bicycle and glasses and the thickest Irish Accent I’ve ever heard.
We showed Gob our map, carefully copied by hand from a lonely planet in a lonely train station in Dublin and Gob regarded us severely then got off his bike.
“I’ll show ya. Come.”
And off he went, his bike spokes clicking and his wispy white hair flying and Noah and I following warily through the foggy streets of Glasgow.
He led us to a hostel, stopping only once to tell us how Ireland was going to shit and then starting off again into fog. A young hip guy materialized out of a side street and said “Gob” reverently and then was gone. Gob sort of slowed down and looked confused, then said Oh yes hello and then kept walking click click click with his old weird bike.
Our hotel was full so he swore and said come on then so we did and followed him a street or two more to another hostel. He waited patiently outside the new hostel and when I came back to tell him that they had beds for us he only nodded and clicked off and that was the last we saw of Gob.
We ate Fish and Chips and met three French guys and tried to go to a concert and failed and so wandered through the streets of Glasgow and obliged our tourist desires and drank spectacular pints of Guinness and Jameson Whiskey on the rocks and Noah had a guitar player play Bob Dylan and then eventually we slept and woke up and missed the one and only bus of the day to the cliffs of Moher but it’s okay we walked through Irish rain and found a wine shop and a hidden path to a massive hill green green green that ends in flying sea cliffs and wine from Spain and Bread and cheese and these pages here fluttering wildly in the cold Irish wind and Noah sketching in his book which brings me to here
Glasgow is neat.
…That night we went out with a German girl and a bored Canadian girl and drank yes more Guinness and found ourselves in a small bar with a group of fantastic human beings sitting on a corner bench playing traditional Irish music no stage or mics or anything just two beautiful women playing violins with subtle smiles on their faces and a mandolin virtuoso and a guy hunched over a hand drum and an acoustic guitar and man they were on a tear and I finally stopped paying attention to the bored Canadian girl which was great and just watched them tear until it was time to go and so we went.
The next day we finally made it to the cliffs of Moher and slept through an endless Ireland postcard in the back of a deserted bus and then woke up and watched the country really be as lush and rolling and green as it was supposed to be.
The cliffs are a worthy tourist sight – they’re bigger and slopyer and giganticer and more magnificent then any picture can tell you. We spent a few hours meandering on cliff edges and marveling at everything then ate baked potatoes in a hobbit hole then took the bus back north and grabbed our clothes out of lockers and then left Galway behind us in the back of the last bus of the night north.
Noah has a friend Fitzy in the North who lives in Donegall and we thought that meant Donegall town but as we discovered in Donegall town no it doesn’t Donegall is a county too and we were two hours from his house, a cheerful phone voice told us.
So we found a hostel in Donegall town and shot the shit with a girl who was leaving a life for another one and drank tea and it was rainy outside and then went to sleep and the next day took another bus and ate Pub food and drank more beer and found ourselves right outside the small town of Muff.
Yes, there is a small town of Muff. I met someone who claims that they, a seaside town, have a diving club.
There you have it; the Muff Diving Club.
Fitzy and his good friend Gramn and their good friend Shamus took us to bars and let us stay in Gramn’s Oceanside cottage where we made sandwiches and rashers and watched old Clint Eastwood movies while the waves crashed outside and we drove at high speeds through northern Ireland and ran gleefully across the Giants’ Causeway in a rainstorm and then hit the bars and Noah performed a Johnny Cash song and then I joined him for some Beatles and The DJ started announcing between sets that the girls in front fancied us and boy were they a whole lot older than us and so we escaped to a club where I met a pretty Irish girl but she stole my pajamas and slept while I packed and Noah drank coffee but went to sleep anyways and someone was supposed to pick me up at six in the morning but they overslept and didn’t show so I made Noah wake up and we borrowed Gramns car and so we jumped in and figured out how to drive on the other side of the road and drank coffee and made our way to Belfast and then right there at the airport the car died and a policeman and I pushed the car down the drop off zone while Noah started the car in second and I hooted and the policeman nodded and Noah honked and I was off to Venice to start the Thrilling Adventures staff ride and Noah was off to Spain and that was that for Ireland.