A Cup 'O Tea, Cow Adjacent

I'm so far behind uploading my journal and photos, but I'll get caught up in a few days. I'll be staying in Killarney on Monday, where my laptop is waiting for me at the post office.

From July 13th...

Hitching has been easy in Ireland, but finding a place for people to pull over is difficult. There are no shoulders and the roads are often edged with mounds of dirt, stone walls, or hedges, leaving no room to get out of the way. Not to mention I still occasionally forget that I should be walking in the right lane here.

At a turn out along a river, I stopped to take a break from dodging traffic and to take photos of some cows standing in the river.

"You want a cup o' tea?" I heard a man's voice behind me. It came from an RV (or caravan in Ireland) parked with the side doors opened to the view. Inside, the man and a girl were sitting at a table

"I'd love one actually," I said then put my camera away and walked over.

The girl slid over to give me a seat at the table. I set my backpack on the ground and hopped in.

"Do you take milk in your tea?" a woman standing in the back of the RV asked and set a steaming cup on the table in front of me.

"No thanks," I said. "This is perfect."

She introduced herself, her husband, and the girl as the man's niece.

"Here you go," the man said holding out a dish of muffins. "I just baked 'em this morning."

I liked these people instantly. We talked about my trip and Ireland.  The woman asked if I knew about the Irish sport of hurling, which I didn't. The finals were today and the local team in Cork was one of the teams playing.

"If you see a lot of people in red shirts today, that is why," she said. "That's our color."
They asked about my exact route, so I pulled out my map. I would be hiking just a few miles from their home in a couple weeks.

"Give us a call," the woman said. "You can stay with us, get a shower, and we'll teach you all about hurling." She wrote her phone number on a Kerry County tourism booklet.

This is one of the many reasons I love hitchhiking and traveling on foot. In what other mode of transportation can you go from dodging traffic like Frogger to having cakes and tea with an amazing Irish family in a caravan by the river?

I came here to see Ireland and for me that doesn't mean checking off all the tourist attractions from a list. It means seeing it slowly, on foot, and relying on the kindness of the local people.

They drove me to the next town to drop me off, but not without wrapping me up a piece of banana bread for the road. I'm very much looking forward to seeing them again.