A Simple Request From an Iraqi Woman

From July 13th...

My next hitch came after a long road walk to find a place someone could pull to the side of the road. As it turns out, this was miles away. After almost being hit head-on by a group of cyclist in a charity bike race, and hearing one of the riders scream like someone who jumped up on a chair after seeing a mouse, I decided to get out of the way down a seldom used country road.

I absolutely love the Irish countryside. Walking down the country roads is every bit as enjoyable as any trail I've hiked. It's similar to walking down country roads in the US, but there are differences. The roadside flowers are ones I've never seen. The smell of the air is different. The cars are makes and models I never new existed. The homes are not quite like anything in the US, including the fences surrounding them. The bugs biting me are midges, not mosquitoes.

The US is the same in that every person who picks me up is very friendly, but here they come from all over Europe and have different accents and tell different kinds of traveling stories.

One of my favorite hitches was from an Iraqi woman. She didn't actually have a destination in mind, she just said she wanted to find a beach.

"Do you know where there is a beach?" she asked me. I pulled out my phone to see if I had a signal.

"Ahh the Internet," she said. "You should throw that thing out the window if you want a real adventure."

"This is my only map of this area," I said. "I would have no idea where I was going without it."

"Exactly!" she said. "That's how you discover things."

I'm not going to throw my phone out the window, but I appreciated the reasoning behind it. And could add, if you want discovery and adventure, you could also rid yourself of a home and car.

At the intersection where she should go left to get to the closest beach, she turned right instead to take me to the next town, Glengarriff.

Which brings me to her request. "Now when you go back home," she said. "Tell the Americans that Iraqis aren't so bad. We just have really bad PR right now."