A Wee Bit Farther
IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU CAN SAY ABOUT IRELAND it’s that it is an island. No matter how lost you may become it is undeniable that if you come to the ocean it is time to turn around. Trying to go further can only have bad consequences or the need to learn another language on short notice.
Dawn, my lovely and multidirectional wife, and I have clutched in our hands a comprehensive road atlas of the entire island. It is immensely helpful, but at the same time, occasionally misleading. Roads come in a variety of colors on the maps: Blue; red, yellow and white. It is those white roads that can get us into trouble.
The road marking scheme calls the white roads “Local Roads,” while I have come to translate that into, “The road may or may not be there, and if there, may or may not be passable to humans.” Many white roads can get you from point A to point B, while others may get you from point A only as far as point Grazing Sheep and oncoming farm equipment eight inches wider than the entire road. We try to avoid the white roads.
A few years ago we were driving down a white road at dusk heading to a B&B that was listed as 7 kilometers ahead. After the odometer in the car hit 11 kilometers with nothing in sight except stone fences and mud we called the B&B for some further directions. After hearing our plea the B&B owner said, “Oh, it’s just a wee bit farther.” You’re almost here.” We arrived safely with an odometer reading of 14 kilometers.
After we were settled in, our host suggested we take the short path down to the lake to look at the stars. “It’s just a wee walk.” After about a mile we gave up and returned to the B&B. To me, “…a wee walk,” is not more than a mile, at night, through the woods. Such fun!
On this trip we were moving on from near Westport, County Mayo to Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim. Getting from one to the other was easy – stay on the more brightly colored roads. Once we arrived at Carrick-on-Shannon our directions were in the hands of the Property Caretaker. I will now quote, verbatim, her detailed directions to our home for the next two weeks.
“On entering Carrick-on-Shannon take the second exit at the Attifinaly roundabout (Tesco on left) and carry on to the next roundabout. Go straight through roundabout into Carrick-on-Shannon and follow until you come to 1st right turn on bad bend and Kelly’s Shop on the corner on your right. Take this turn an follow on the road a small bit you will see an Electricity Supply Board building on your right and the apartments entrance is directly across from this. No. 32 is the end property on the left facing you.”
Giving directions like those are not helpful unless you were born in Carrick-on-Shannon. The last time I heard directions like those it was on the old Andy Griffith Show when Gomer Pyle was trying help a wayfaring stranger.
“Oh, it’s real simple. You just go down the road past the old Johnson house and then take a left at the yellow dog sitting by the side of the road. If he’s sitting on the other side of the road then turn right, go on past that old fishing hole I used to go to but got filled in, and, Shazam! There you are.”
Change the accent and welcome to Carrick-on-Shannon.
Somehow, we found our destination, using satellite navigation. I knew that if we went strictly by the written directions we might end up Portugal.
I try to take into consideration that we are dealing with another country where, although we ostensibly speak the same language, there can be major differences in interpretation.
Then again, crappy directions are crappy directions. If these sort of directions had been given to Lewis and Clark by Sacajawea we would all be speaking to each other in Blackfoot.