I was ment to leave Dublin at four o’clock to arrive in Derry at half seven (I had no accomodation booked there,so I wanted to arrive early).I did everything right,I woke up at three and had my shower and checked out of the hostel at three thirty,and then I ran throught the deserted city straight to the busaras,dragging my suitcase behind me,and worrying about my book,I hoped I hadn’t left it in the common room because I’d be really pissed off if I lost it before I finished reading it when I so badly wanted to know how the story ended.
When I thought about it, I was quite sure I had put it in my backpack, so I started worrying about something else;did I pack my scarf ? It was my Hawthorn footy club scarf and I liked it because it was soft and warm and carried soft and warm memories of Australia with it.I hoped I hadn’t left it behind.When I arrived to the Busaras it was all quiet and there was no bus anywhere,so I sat there at the outside bus stop in the freezing cold,and having realissed my scarf was tied around my neck,I started worrying about whether or not I had brought the key for the padlock on my suitcase.I fumbled through my handbag and it wasn’t there.
I didn’t start panicking straight away.I was sure I had simply missed it.How could I have lost it when I was so careful all the time? There is at leat one good thing about having an OCD (I’m not actually sure I have an OCD,I’m self diagnosed) and being so terrified to lose your things,and and this is it:you check so often and so minutiously that you have everything with you and that you aren’t leaving anything behind when you leave some place,that you actually hardly ever lose anything.
But I went through my bag again, and then all my pockets at least five times,and no sign of the bleedin key.And the best thing was,the padlock was on my suitcase right now,so I couldn’t open it.Either the key was inside and I was in trouble,or I had dropped the key somewhere on the way and I was in trouble.”Fuck me” I said out loud.That’s when I realised I hadn’t seen my mobile phone either,and it was supposed to be in my handbag.”Fuck” I said again,and I looked at my watch.It was ten past,and I hadn’t seen any bus.
I walked to a payphone because I couldn’t find the mobile phone (it was proably locked in the suitcase), and rang the bus company to ask if the bus had left earlier.An answering machine picked up the call; a female robot voice informed me that opening hours were 9h30 to 5h00. “Well fuck youse” I said.All the cursing didn’t improve the situation in any way but it made me feel infinitely better.
I had no choice after that,but going back to the hostel.
The receptionnist wasn’t there but there was two Polish drunks,a French drunk and a Tcheckoslovakian one,who hugged me tightly and offered me homemade booze they kept in a Evian bottle when I told them my story.I had a big mouthful and it was so strong I went cross eyed like I usually do after five pints,and that’s when the receptionnist arrived.
He took one look at me,disheveled,still holding the booze bottle,eyes red from the cold,and then he said. “You’ve already checked out.”
I said “Yes I know that.” trying to sound funny.
he said “Have you been drinking?”
I shoved the bottle back in the Polish fella’s hands. I said “No”.I caught the Polish guy’s glance and we sniggered,and that didn’t help convincing the receptionist I was sober.
Then I explained I had lost my key,possibly in the room (where five other people were still asleep,being 4h30 in the morning).
He said “My goodness me” and gave me back my room key.
I went in,looked everywhere,but the padlock keys were nowhere to be seen.
I went back downstairs to the reception,and left the key on the desk for the reception fella.The polish drunk asked: “Found it?” I shook my head,wondering how much a saw would cost me.
“In Poland I worked in Hostel and we had big scissors to cut padlocks just in case, ask man from reception if he has” Polish drunk said.
When I asked him if he had big scissors I think he thought for a while that I was psycho,but the I told him about the padlock.He said “goodness me” again and came out with a big sharp metal thingy,and set the zip of my suitcase free.
My smile of triumph wavered as I was looking through my suitcase for my phone.My phone didn’t seem to be in the suitcase.It was probably in the room,but I hadn’t seen it when I was looking for my keys in the semi darkness,as I explained the receptionist.The receptionist seemed to be at loss for words.He didn’t even say “goodness me” this time,but gave me back the room keys again.
I did my best not to be too noisy as I was overturning the bedroom in the search for my phone.But no,it wasn’t there.”It must be in the common bathroom” I thought,and I went to the bathroom only to realize I didn’t have the electronic pass to open the door, so I had to go back and ask for it to the receptionist who surely was having his busiest night shift ever.
It was indeed in the bathroom;and after a photoshoot with all the drunk fellas (who were quite nice and sympathetic,I shall add,in all fairness) I bid farewell to everyone and left with my broken padlock,phone,opened suitcase and everything in it,to catch the eight o’clock bus to Derry.
I was even early, so I went to the sandwich place to get brekkie before I left.A man was in there,behind a counter.It was like at Subway,you could pick anything you wanted in your sandwich and he had to make it front of you.He was looking quite sullen but then again,I’d have the shits too if I had to wear in public that plastic hat kinda like the ones you wear in the shower and the assorted plastic gloves,and that fluorescent orange shirt with the words “I’m at your service” printed in big letters at the front.I looked at the menu pinned to the wall.
“Can I have a Super double BBQ kentucky fried bacon,please?” I asked.
“No” he answered “No,we don’t have that here”
“Well,can I have the double Cheese Veggie Muncher then?”
“No,no,no Veggie,no” he sounded really annoyed at me.
“Oh” I looked at the menu on the wall.”What about the Brekkie Deluxe?”
“No Brekkie Deluxe.” he barked.
“Well what can I have,then?” I asked.
“Bread,bacon,eggs” he said,dryly,rolling his eyes like I was the thickest eejit ever for asking that question.
“Well,that’s what you should write on the wall you twat” I thought,but I said “Right,I’ll have that.I hope you have mayo!”Nicely and all,with a smile.
He looked at me like if I was extremely annoying,pulled a tub of mayo out of his fridge and slammed it on the counter.
It was ten past eight when the bus finally left the Dublin Busaras,with me in it,utterly relieved, and eating my bread bacon and eggs thrown together and worth 6.75 euros,believe it or not.
The journey was quite pleasant,I must say.Lovely sceneries,green fields,skies the purest shade of blue,like children’s watercolor,were unfolding behind my window.The battery in my MP3 never went flat,and it played on and on,Buachaill on Eirne,An Phairc,Ce leis,Pill a run O.
I love songs in Irish.Irish is a melodic,poetic,beautiful language,but it is sitting on the edge of oblivion; only a few people speak it now, but I hope it never gets forgotten.
It was the music,the fatigue as well,everything started to feel blurry and ethereal.I think it was the one and only time I ever managed to fall asleep in a bus.
We arrived at quarter past ten.
It takes me about half an hour to answer the question:”Where are you from?” “I’ve been living in Australia about three years so that makes me a bit Australian.My mam is white and from France and I’ve lived in France for twenty years so that makes me a bit French.And why do I look a bit dark? Because my dad is black,from Senegal.I guess I’m a bit Senegalese.”
I look kind of African.Like Beyonce, or a fatter version of Halle Berry,to give you an idea.I got quite tanned in Australia but because of a combination of Irish weather and working indoors all the time I lost my sunkissed complexion.I even think since I’ve in Ireland,I’ve actually whitened.But I still was a bit surprised,when I got asked,not one,not twice,not three time “Are you from Donegal?”
(Donegal,just in case you were wondering,is an Irish speaking county in Ireland.)
Goodness me,I didn’t realise I had gotten that pale, that they’d think I’m from Donegal.Maybe it’s because I didn’t understand the Derry accent (so strong and so different from Dublin or Kilkenny).Maybe it’s because I really spend to much time listening to Moya Brennan and I’m starting to talk like her.Maybe it was because I kept getting lost and dragging my suitcase around cursing like a sailor and they thought I was some culchie who had never seen a city before.Who knows.
It fist happened when I left my suitcase at the left luggage office.I registered it, filled in the little information sheet,got my coupon.The employee carried my suitcase,put it on a rack.And then he asked me for two pounds.I said: “Oh crap, I forgot you didn’t have Euros in Northern Ireland.I only have euros” and he said something I didn’t get.
I looked at him blankly.He asked: “are you from Donegal?”
And I said: “No.Why?”
He shrugged and said anyway it didn’t matter I could pay when I came back to get my suitcase,and he opened the door for me.I ran in the fist bank I saw,about quarter of a mile from the luggage office, to change my euros.
Then it happened again when I was looking for the hostel.I had a map,but it’s me and my rubbish sense of directions;I got lost and wandered about a thousand miles away from where I was supposed to go.
When he saw me wandering around, a man on the other side of the road actually crossed to come and help me,and when I said I was lost he asked me if I was from Donegal.When I showed him the map,he sighed.
“Oh, love,” he said,in the same tone the hostel guy said my goodness me.”how did you end up here.You’re really far from St James Street,now.”
He said a taxi would only be a couple of pounds and he called one for me.The taxi driver was a young fella about my age and he was really nice,chatting up,and carrying my suitcase in front of the hostel like I was a VIP and all even if he earned only 3,50 pounds for the ride.I thought “Whoever said people in Northern Ireland were all unfriendly? why was I nervous before coming?”
I’d ever heard that if you weren’t Irish people there wouldn’t even talk to you but obviously it wasn’t true. Everyone was so friendly around here.But then again,maybe it was because everyone thought I was from Donegal. I said: “Thank you very much” to the young fella and he waited until the hostel chick had opened the door to drive away.
I bought my ticket at the theatre.The nice lady asked for my adress,I gave it to her.
“Is that in Donegal?” she asked.
She gave me a seat in the third row,for 17,50 pounds.
The concert was grand (I’m starting to talk like mammy now, using words like “grand”).I was up really close to the stage.There was one thing, though. It already feels kind of funny to come to a concert on your own (I did meet people but we hadn’t booked together,so,because it was a seated concert,I couldn’t stay with them).But it’s even more funny when every seat aroud you is occupied,t except two seats on your right and two seats on your left.And when the musicians eyes keep getting caught by you because you’re really sticking out, and they smile at you with compassion, because you look so lonely and possibly smelly.(I mean,two empty seats on each side,seriously!)
I still enjoyed the concert,the choir with the little monk guys who really had great voices,and the song “stars are made for the sky” that I heard for the first time there and immediatly becaume one of my fave songs of all times, with Guinnevere and Strawberry fields forever,and Early Morning rain.And Moya was great,of course 🙂 And I loved the harpists so much I want to play harp,now.I’m still looking for Noirin ni Riain Albums.I loved her voice.
Anyway, I give you the link again for the Sanctuary Concert,it’s great to see and the money goes to a great cause.There’s a concert in Dublin in early 2009,just in case someone reads this blog and that someone lives in Dublin or around.
Return ticket Dublin-Derry:27 euros. Concert ticket:22,50 euros. Taxi ride because you got lost like a thick eejit: 5 euros. Getting a smile from Moya Brennan because you were the only silly looking girl nobody wants to seat next to: priceless.
See ye ’round!