Sunday, August 14, 2016

Left is Right, Right is a Head-On Collision Waiting to Happen

I was never excited by the idea of driving in Ireland, but after researching the public transportation options for the places I wanted to go, the time and trouble it would take to get trains and buses made renting a car a necessity. Even though they drive on the left. While sitting on the right. Both seemingly ridiculous notions after decades of right-lane/left-sitting driving. But how hard could it be? So this morning I went back to the airport and picked up my rental car. It's a tiny thing, easy to maneuver, and the driving on the left wasn't so bad - I just kept chanting "keep left, keep left, keep left" every time I came to an intersection or went through the approximately 8,000 roundabouts it took to drive the 150 miles (I refuse to think in kilometers) down Ireland's most winding roads to Doolin. Or near Doolin. I'm kind of in the middle of nowhere, but delightfully so.

The driving itself -- and sitting on the right wouldn't have helped -- was not so delightful. Once I got off the main highway, the roads were so narrow that whenever a car was coming in the other direction, it seemed like a miracle that I didn't smash right into it. For some reason, while sitting on the right, the tendency is to overcompensate when there's oncoming traffic by moving too far to the left, and since there is no shoulder on most of the roads I was on, that means coming precariously close to the stone walls which are inches from the passenger side door. I got used to the rat-a-tat-tat of the lane-edge markers on the left telling me to stop veering that way, and managed to get where I was going relatively unscathed. It helped that the views of the hills and the distant coastline were lovely (when I dared taking my eyes of the center divider), and I finally ended up here:

That is Matt and Julie's house and they couldn't be nicer. My room looks out onto a grassy field and green pastures dotted with farm houses; there are even a few sheep strolling around nearby. The town of Doolin is right up the road, but I'm not going anywhere this evening. My hands have finally unclenched and I'm going to sit up in bed and read - because when I look up from my screen, book, notes for tomorrow's adventure, this is what I see: