My mother didn't mention cannibals
21.09.2006 - 21.09.2006 14 °C
As I sit at the trusty laptop today, it’s cold, snowy, rainy, and windy. It reminded me of our voyage to Ireland in 2006. Yes, Irish weather was very nearly the same as the weather here today, minus the snow. Well, and the cold. But it was windy and rainy.
I don’t really remember how it all started, but we had only joined TP 18 months earlier, and we had already attended 2 TP meet-ups, one in Montreal and one in Ft Lauderdale. This was to be our “longest distance” meet-up to date. I think my dearest started things, but it could have been Nikki or even Phil that really got the ball rolling. It was July 2006, and we had gotten to know a number of members quite well without ever having met them. Yes, we assumed they were lunatics, but OUR kind of lunatics, so we felt comfortable mingling amongst friends, albeit the faceless TP faithful. Well, not really faceless, as we did check everyone’ profiles to see what they looked like…..it would seem a bit silly wandering Ireland asking complete strangers if they were who we guessed they were. Not that it hadn’t happened before – at the Montreal meet-up, we really had no idea what anyone looked like except Tina, Sam, and Peter, who had all emailed naked photos of themselves months in advance. OK, not exactly “naked” photos, but you get the picture…
A trip such as this required literally months of planning. We reasoned that if everyone drank they way we did (and they mostly do [re: Jason], plus, this was Ireland – Land of Guinness), that it would be a long, laborious process to actually organize such an adventure. It was indeed a long and laborious process, taking week after week of drinking to excess and PM-ing and thread posting while trying to not drool on our keyboards. Trying to work together with 15 disparate personalities (sots all) was not unlike herding cats without a whip or catnip. Tough going, let me tell you. Good thing we drank to excess, else the whole adventure would have wound up taking place in Montreal again.
Our global sense of keen timing had kicked in quite nicely, and in a mere 8 weeks everyone managed to almost completely disagree on where to meet, how to meet, and where to drink. The only real agreement was with Phil, who we managed to bribe into accompanying us on “an interesting drive” around the Emerald Isle. It is entirely possible Phil was under the influence of pharmaceuticals, but he was happy enough to be our guide into parts unknown. Giggly even, which made us slightly uneasy. Our saving grace would be our extensive knowledge of Monty Python sketches and phrases.
We booked our flight, our hotel, and a car. All was well in the Universe. Or so we thought. The meet-up was to take place September 23 and 24 2006, somewhere in the middle of Dublin. We still had a few details to work out, such as, was it Doyle’s or Foley’s pub where we ought to meet. These were hard questions, made harder by the fact that we had no idea whatsoever where we were, and oh, the Ryder Cup was to be played at the K Club while we were there. Ryder Cup? Yes, that lovely golf tournament pitting the best of European golfers against America’s finest. Shit, no one told us that every hotel for 300 km was occupied. But I’m getting ahead of myself…..
Our departure date of 21 September was fast approaching. How does one pack for 10 days in Ireland? And how do we fit 2 metric tonnes of clothing into that small bag? My dearest was up to the task, and after a mere 3 weeks of washing, ironing, folding, and cramming, she once again outdid herself. 4 metric tonnes were to be the order of the day. How nice. But, I am the consummate mule, and I was up to the challenge. Feed me a little hay, rub my forehead, and I’ll haul your shit anywhere.
The day was nigh upon us. A fitful night of sleep, preceded by several pints of rum, and I awoke to a familiar refrain: “We’re going to Ireland, we’re going to Ireland….”. Shit, had I really done everything to prepare? Yes, work had been prepared, baggage had been packed, a ceremonial Guinness had been consumed. I was ready. The angelic voice in my head continued on….”we’re going to Ireland, we’re going to Ireland….”. Cooked meat products were in order, along with very strong coffee, but alas, we had done all the dishes the night before and were only willing to dirty 2 cups. Dammit, I could really go for a nice Panamanian breakfast, but this was not to be. A fighter pilots breakfast was all we would manage – ciggies and coffee. Close enough, we could eat on the plane.
As I hitched the cats to the sled, I could only imagine what lay ahead: endless days of walking and drinking. Hmmm, quite appealing, minus the walking part. A sharp snap of the whip, and the cats were off at a brisk pace down the stairs. It was just a short ride to the kitchen, and hopping off the sled, I grabbed the coffee. Back up the stairs, and that angelic voice came back to me – “we’re going to Ireland…” – alright, enough angel, here is a cup of life-giving java. Are you sure everything is packed? Yes dear, I checked it 38 times last night between pints of rum. Cool. Passports? Check. Cash? Check. Travelers checks? No, remember Panama? Yes, no travelers checks. Toothbrushes? Check. OK, we’re ready, just let me put the cats out and wash the cups. Sweet, let’s go.
Arriving at O’Hare airport, I muled the 4 metric tonnes of baggage to the ticket counter. “Going somewhere for a lifetime Sir?” asked the ticket agent. Funny you should ask….no, just for 10 days, but good observational skills. Could you possibly find us some horribly uncomfortable seats for our 10 hour flight, I asked the agent. Funny Sir, but yes, I can, right after you submit to the standard full cavity search by our friendly TSA Security personnel. Damn latex gloves, forgot about them. Still, the 6 meter tall TSA Agent was quite friendly with his insertions, and security was a breeze. And there we stood, at the gate, staring blankly at the airplane that was to carry us to the Emerald Isle. It had wings and engines, everything you would need for a good flight.
Halfway through the ride, we were served a lovely meal of microwave cow excrement, lightly basted in a rat intestine sauce, with a side of salted plastic beads. The stewardess relished in the serving, no doubt knowing full well that it was either that or chewing on the complimentary $5 pillows. More booze, that was the answer. One can consume even airline food given sufficient booze. Plus, the pillows were quite small, and I suspect, made of the remains of passengers that had died on route. Still, we made the best of it, playing 3000 or so hands of solitaire while killing the batteries in our iPod. I think there was some sort of airplane disaster movie playing, but it didn’t seem appropriate.
75 days later, we arrived in Dublin. Completely besotted, I asked my Dearest “who were we supposed to meet again?”. Well dear, after we retrieve the baggage, we should find Nikki and Phil, and maybe even Greg, who has just walked over from Toronto. Fine then, I’m ready. And having become re-acquainted with our possessions, we sauntered into the main airport. We craned our ears, and sure enough, we heard the giggling that could only come from Nikki. There Dearest, is that her? No, over there, standing next to that rather large chipmunk-looking person, who no doubt is Phil. And that Canadian-looking person, that must be Greg. And indeed, that was who we were greeted by. Many hours of hugs and kisses passed. Oh look, we can change money there; surely they have a good exchange rate for dollars here. Ha….airports always have the best exchange rates, especially if you don’t want to go searching for a bank. Right then, now we must find our transportation. Not unlike the Arctic expeditions of a hundred years ago, the five of us eventually found the car hire kiosk. Trudging through the snow and cold, stopping only to hunt for the odd walrus, we made it to the counter and I presented my identification. Oh Sir, you won’t be taking this car into Northern Ireland will you, asked the friendly person. Absolutely not, proclaimed I, hedging on the information Phil provided that there were savages up there. We’re here for adventure, and that doesn’t include savage races. Wonderful Sir, please sign these 300 pages of documents, submit to this retina scan, and give me 4 pints of blood as collateral.
The five of us boarded another plane to get to the car hire agency, located just off the airport property. Several hours later, we were deposited at the agency. Apparently no one was home, so we picked out a nice black Hyundai Santa Fe from the lot and drove off. With any luck, no one would notice.
“Now don’t forget, we drive on the left here”, exclaimed Nikki. Thank you Giggler, I gathered that from the steering wheel being on the right. “Just checking you know (giggle giggle)”
And we were off, but everyone says that about us…….