|Our little river has burst its banks|
As most of you know, I grew up in the depths of rural Ireland. To be more precise, I grew up in a draughty old stone farmhouse in the middle of nowhere - we don't have an address, we just have the name of the square acre our house is planted on and the name of the nearest town. For kicks and laughs, we walked down to the end of the country road to The Big Tree - which was, as the name suggests, a Big Tree. If we were feeling particularly wild, we walked in the opposite direction to the Water Pump, which was - brace yourself - an old-fashioned water pump at a local crossroads. How we didn't spontaneously combust with excitement during our teenage years is beyond me.
|A cloudless blue sky|
This puzzled me for years because I couldn't quite understand why one would have to torture oneself with a walk up a steep mountain path, only to look at other mountains, before walking back down. This was a bone of great contention between me and my ex-boyfriend, one we eventually overcame when I learned to give him the camera to take photos of the view on the top of the mountain, while I sat at a picnic bench in the shade and read my book. It never helped that I was always inappropriately dressed: I don't have hiking boots or khaki pants with lots of pockets or, God forbid, shorts. My sartorial inadequacies, combined with my startlingly white skin and red hair, meant that I stood out immediately as an Islander amongst all the sallow-skinned Continentals, (who were general dressed like Indiana Jones, funnily enough.)
The bizarre thing is that no matter where I have been in the world - and I've been in some weird places - there are always a couple of German tourists there as well. Decked out in wool socks, sturdy boots, sensible shorts, coloured sunglasses and funny headgear, they survey the mountain range (check! been there!), inside of a volcano (check! been there!), seven hills of Rome (check! been there!), Atlantic Ocean from an Irish clifftop (check! - oh, what's the use) and complain bitterly if it does not meet their expectations.
Very often, I see a fellow Irish person (usually male): they're usually incorrectly dressed for the elements and look slightly bewildered. When I ask them what they're doing there, they mumble something about "getting on a plane to Sydney with their mate Dekko..." and "... meeting three Italian girls in Brisbane ..." and "... taking a fishing boat to Jakarta..." and "... ending up here. Where am I anyway?" Turn your back for half a minute and they'll strike up a friendship with a local, marry his daughter and within two months, they'll have opened MacGinty's Irish Pub on the slopes of Mount Bromo, Indonesia's premier volcanic tourist attraction. Return in a year, and the pub will be full of inadequately-clothed Irish people who got lost between Java and Bali, while droves of Germans hike past the window, their eyes focused on The Nature.