As the ferry boat crosses the channel in the northern Atlantic and enters Irish waters the brisk late winter air salts my unshowered body and whitens Pandemic my magic bicycle’s green paint. I didn’t stop peddling for the last week long enough to shower. My perfectly good reading neck would still prefer to be reading about cycle touring instead of grinning over Pandemic, the magic bicycle’s handle bars. My Achilles tendons have joined my neck in the protest to the new activity. In fact, my Achilles tendons are now creaking like an attic floor when walking which is probably why I hardly walked at all in Wales and stayed on the bicycle. The coast of Wales sped by me as I propelled myself to the ferry station to hop on the boat for Ireland.
The anticipation of what lies ahead mounts like a child waiting to open their presents on Christmas morning. Ireland is known for its big hearted people, Celtic music, world renowned sense of humor , hilly curvy roads and Guinness stout. I can’t wait to disembark the boat and unwrap the fresh fun that will surely lie ahead. The ferry officer sees the dolphin sized smile on my face and smiles with me. I am standing over Pandemic on the top of the ferry ramp waiting for the ramp to be secured like a race horse at the gate waiting for the starting bell.
Are you lost? Yes, I spend most of my day lost. I was sitting at a gas station examining my first map. I purchased the map due to the fact that after disembarking the ferry in my excitement to be in Ireland I tried to cycle keeping the ocean on my left. This technique hadn’t really been working lately but I was too excited about making it to Ireland to care at the moment. And after making a 70km(46miles) circle that landed me 20 km(13miles) north of the ferry stop in the city of Wexford I realized it was time to go find a map.
Are you lost? I look up from my new map and see, standing in the sunlight that had just peeked around a rain cloud, a very tall man with a huge Irish grin on his face. I could hardly answer because the energy and look on his face already had me laughing. When he heard my North American accent he asked me where I was from. I said I was Canadian but had moved to Alaska 9 years ago. Alaska? How’s that he asked. Well it’s cold, dark but not a dark dark. The man quickly answered so that’s a pale dark then. Yeah, I mumbled it’s a pale dark, I could hardly mumble because I was grinning too hard and holding back an explosion of laughter. I knew I was up for a serious torture of humor as this fellow stood there with the full intention of teasing me. He had walked across the parking lot of the gas station just to have a laugh. What do you think of the rain, he asked? The Irish seem to love talking about the weather especially the rain. Well I like the rain it makes my hair curly, I answered. My hair had been doing new salty windblown things lately which I did like. As the words exited my mouth I knew I was stepping deeper into this teasing. He answered well if you are not careful you will start looking like Michael Jackson before the change, if you know what I mean?
After the comedy show this man sat down with me and picked out some local places I should visit. He picked the site of a church which was known for a famous angel and a rock path which according to the legend the devil had visited. So I made the obvious observation that he was sending me to see the angels and the devil and we had another laugh.
Now that I have the details and the direction all sorted out I peddled west to find the devil, an angel and the North Atlantic Ocean. I had purchased new shoes in Wexford to attempt to turn down the volume of my creaking Achilles tendons. I had peddled out of the bike shop over the bridge up the coast of Wales hoped the ferry to Ireland while wearing sport sandals and socks. So Pandemic the magic bicycle and I peddled off in new shoes still chuckling from the torture of the hour of laughing.