Rule of Thumb

Doolin, Ireland

July 2015

It was our last morning in the lush, green Irish city of Doolin. My friend Blake and I had been enjoying this little spot tremendously, having already hiked the Cliffs of Moher and seen a fiddle player at a pub, and naturally we wanted to make the most of our last day. After a quick yet hearty breakfast, we took our backpacks and made rain jackets out of trash bags (because, like fools, we did not own any actual ones) then headed for the ferry that was set to sail to the Aran Islands, situated just off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

Upon landing, we, like sugar deprived children entering a candy store, instantly ran like lunatics everywhere we could in order to see everything the island had to offer. And this island did not disappoint in the least. We saw, and climbed, old ruins, passed plenty of quaint old houses, explored a massive, rusty shipwreck, and even had a homemade, delicious lunch at an old lady’s bed and breakfast. Everything seemed perfect and the sun even came out of its hiding place to make an appearance. Needless to say, we were having fun. Too much fun…

Above mentioned shipwreck.

Above mentioned shipwreck.

As we were busy climbing some more of the old ruins, I just so happened to glance down at my watch. Instantly, the broad smile that had been on my face for quite some time vanished and was replaced by a look of horror.

Inspired by Evard Munch

Inspired by Evard Munch

We had just over an hour until our bus would leave back to Dublin, and if we didn’t go back to the mainland now, there was absolutely no chance of making it on time. I shouted over to Blake, and suddenly, our pleasant stroll around the island turned into a mad dash to the shore. With all the strength and speed our legs possessed, we tore across the island in such a frenzy, hoping the boat would still be there. Soon, the boat was in sight, but the engine was rumbling! It was about to leave without us. “Noooooooo!” we shouted, as we lurched forward at the entrance ramp.

To our astonishment, we just barely, by the skin of our teeth (even though teeth do not have skin), made it aboard. But despite this minor victory, our difficulties were far from over. We still needed to travel nearly five miles from the ferry terminal to the bus station and neither of us was in the possession of a car. As this thought kept running through my mind, mother nature ever so kindly decided to show her cruel sense of humor, and with no where to seek shelter, the sky opened up and rain poured down upon us. Unfortunately, like a pair of dogs locked outside in the cold, unable to turn a doorknob and go inside, all we could do was stand there and take it. The trash bags helped a little, but not enough. Not nearly enough.

So cruel

So cruel

Frantically getting off the boat, I checked my watch one more time and all the color drained from my face. 20 minutes! That's all we had. Five consecutive 4-minute miles. Even without backpacks and garbage bag rain coats, no human has ever been able to do more that two miles at that pace (I checked to confirm this fact). We started running as fast as we could, hoping that by some miracle the bus would be late. But, unfortunately, in the back of our minds we knew this hope was most likely false. Finally, we knew that there was no other choice but to hold out our thumbs and wish for some driver, out of the kindness in their heart, to take pity on two backpackers who now looked like drowned rats wearing trash bags.

One car passed. Nothing happened. Then another. And another. We got a few honks and shouts out the window, but alas it all seemed for naught. Then, just as our last rays of hope were fading into the abyss, something happened! Moving towards us, a red car turned on its blinker and began to slow. ‘Could it be?’ I thought. ‘Yes! Someone is actually stopping! Christmas had come after all!’

A young couple sat in the front seats. “Where are you going?” the driver asked. We explained our situation and our urgency to get to the bus station. “Hop in.” he replied. We instantly yanked open the back door, threw ourselves into the seats and began expressing our extreme gratitude. “Do you know why we stopped?” asked the driver. “Because you guys running down the street with your backpacks and trash bags were the most ridiculous and hilarious things we’ve seen all day.” We took this as a compliment. And ultimately, because of their help, we made it to the bus station with nearly a whole minute to spare. We said our thanks, then bid goodbye to Doolin, the islands, and the nearby cliffs of Moher. One thing, however, we did not say goodbye to was the rain, since, being in Ireland, it followed us all the way back to Dublin. In the end, despite all the stress of the day, we left with a new, restored outlook on humanity and hitchhiking.

Triumph! (Yes, we were 'those backpackers')

Triumph! (Yes, we were 'those backpackers')

Events as they unfolded

Events as they unfolded