Monday, April 14, 2008
The Good Shepherd and Hitchhiking.
So I've been in lovely Glendolough for a couple days. I did some work for them, and they gave me a free bed. It's an amazing place. But that's another blog.
Yesterday, I went to a small mass in a small church, and a lovely young Irish woman sang the 23rd Psalm, and I nearly cried. But again, that's another story.
After mass, I walked back to the hostel, gathered up my things and said good-bye to Trish, Tara and Pam. I walked up to the crossroads, stuck my thumb out and then the second car picked me up. And really, it was the first viable car, as the first one was a single lady. Pretty cool. Mick, a white-haired Irishman with a smallish black dog in the back, drove me for 45 minutes or so, and we had good conversation and enjoyed the scenery.
Next, I waited near a gas station for 20 minutes before Eddie picked me up. Divorced father of 7, his oldest son was 22 when he died. Drowned, and had been missing for 10 days. Murder is suspected. He's in court to try to see his other children. Nice guy.
Eddie dropped me off, and then I had the longest wait in my hitching career. It was probably at least an hour or more. It started off very nice and sunny and I was standing by a green field with lambs scampering about. Then the rain came, and they sky darkened. I don't expect cars with women or children to stop, but single guys? Come on! Help a brother out! I was not despairing, but I was starting to figure out what I needed to do if it got too dark and I was stranded. There was a farmhouse whose door I could knock on. "Just tell me what to do, Lord." "Stick your thumb out."
A young guy in a working-mans sporty car drove by. Then I heard a beep. There he was. God's Servant in a blue sports car. I hopped in and Djyann gave me a ride. I actually have little idea what his name was. His accent was so thick, I couldn't quite get it when I tried to repeat it back. It could be Dan, or Dean, or Dirty Diana for all I know. Anyway, he was a nice guy. He let me off in the next town, where I found a washroom in a gas station and bought a cup of coffee. The sun was out again.
I looked out from a hillside view of the beautiful small town and its big, old, stone church just across the way. I sipped my coffee and smiled. After 15 minutes or so, a nice little grey car pulled up, and I jumped in. David, as I later learned his name, was a well-kept man. Actually, he looked a bit like Le Chiffre from Casino Royale, but pleasant and without the weird bleeding-tears thing. We talked, and I told him all about my work back home, my friends, and my life. He took me all the way to Kilkenny.
As we're pulling into town, he asks, "Would you like something to eat? My treat?"
So we went to a nice old hotel in Kilkenny, and I had fish and chips. Steady conversation for a long time, and then desert and before I could say a word, an Irish coffee. Mmm. We walked out of the hotel and into the street, and found a pub. I was starting to think of what I might need to say if this got weird. He was being really nice to me. That being said, I wasn't overly concerned. I really wasn't getting any kind of off-setting vibe from him. I know when someone's a big weirdo or starting to get creepy. I think he was truly just nice, and probably a little fascinated by my story.
Anyway, he took me to Kyteler's pub and bought me a pint, while a lively Irish, middle-aged trio sang folk songs loudly. One of the musicians said about me, "And over here is Colin Farrel!"
I finished my pint, we walked back to his car, and he drove me to a hostel just down the street. I checked in, and when I came back out to get my bags, he and all my luggage was gone. Just kidding. I got my bags, and he handed me a folded-up Euro and said "This is just a little something." I only had time to say thank-you, and he was waving good-bye. I checked the Euro's he gave me. Two fifties. No kiddin'.
I checked in to the hostel, and brought my bags upstairs. While I was very thankful for the Irish coffee, I knew it would be some time before I'd be able to sleep. So, I headed out the door and walked for a minute back down to Kyteler's. The band was playing, and I had a Smithwicks ("Smithicks").
Did you ever have a dream come true that you didn't even know you had?
They sang some American tunes, and when they began Ring of Fire, the singer called me up to sing. So I sang Johnny Cash in a pub, with a folk band, in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Folks, it just doesn't get any better than that.
Afterwards, I stood outside the pub smoking my pipe. The fellow from the band that called me up paid me the highest compliment as he walked away. "You should be an Irishman!"
I came back to the hostel, and as I lay in bed (for what turned out to be hours. thanks, Irish coffee.), I literally could not stop smiling. I started the day not knowing where I would be or how I would get there, and ended it singing Ring of Fire in a pub in Kilkenny.
Truly, He restoreth my soul.
at 3:34 a.m.