WanderingDan’s Weblog

“BUUUUUUUGS!!!!!”…”what do we do?!?”…”KILL ‘EM, KILL ‘EM ALL!!!” (epic lines from Starship Troopers)
July 26, 2013, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Where did you come from today?” asks Mary, in her strong Donegal accent.
“Slieve Leag” says I, somewhat proud of the distance, both vertical and horizontal, I hiked today. Slieve Leag is a section of coastal cliffs, the highest in Europe, and offers breath-taking views.
“You’re a crazy man!”
“Well, I don’t know, but I am tired”
A couple minutes later, as Mary shows me the room I’ll be staying in…
“…and the shower is over here, and over there is where you take a piss.”
Mary is the epitome of an salty, old rural Irish woman. She’s been running this hostel since it opened in 1972, and from the looks of it, many of the furnishings and accessories are original. She speaks her mind, and with whatever colorful descriptives she pleases, unabashedly. I take a liking to her immediately. After showing me the room, she looks back at me, “you’ve had a long day, would you like some tea before settling in?”
“That sounds absolutely lovely”
We head back to her office area, where she puts together a tea tray with the mechanical precision of someone who has been doing this for a loooong time. Tray, cup, teabag, dish of sugar, small cup of milk, mixing spoon, then she tosses on a mini Mars bar, Milkyway, some cookie and a bag of Malteses, while asking me, “do you eat this rubbish?”, not waiting for an answer as she puts more on, “ahhhh…you must be hungry”. She picks up the tray and heads down the hallway of this most unique of hostels, seemingly built into the rocks. In fact, it might actually be partially built into the rocks! We end up in the sitting room, where she sits the tray down, and looking out the window makes a few remarks about the village sights; given the placement of the hostel on the hill most of the town is visible. it is an impressive vantage. “This is a really cool building, I love its architecture and personality” I interject.
“This place is just a bunch of fecking rocks…rocks everywhere!” she replies. Then as she leaves, I ask her “what is your name?”
“Mary…some call me ‘crazy Mary’…you can call me whatever the hell you like.”
“Thank-you Mary” I reply as she heads back down to her office.
I’m glad I found this place. It is not on my survey map, and was recommended by some folks staying at the other hostel in town which was booked solid. I wouldn’t have minded finding some place to wild camp tonight, even though I’m drenched in sweat from the intense hike up the trail to Slieve Leag, and then down the mountain forging my own trail…well actually I mostly used the goat trails, but it was still a steep descent. My knees were shaking most of the way down from exhaustion. The reason I really didn’t want to wild-camp was because while walking along the posted hiking trail after descending the mountain, which was poorly kept, a foot-wide bog trench which ran parallel to the path, unbeknownst to me at the time, and completely covered over with grass and low shrubbery, tricked my right foot, sending my whole right leg down a four-foot crevice, and mid-calf down into a black, murky bog. I quickly pulled myself out, which requires a little extra effort when toting around a forty pound pack, but didn’t have time to stop and assess the muck factor…if I slowed down or stopped, the damn clegs would start swarming. Clegs…nasty bastards…similar to mosquitos, but these guys aren’t afraid of the sun or light wind, but like mosquitos are single-purposed programmed drones, tenacious and opportunistic…target in sight, mission: puncture and drain…yeah, I hate these things. The only sure deterrent is a stiff breeze, or isolation. If I kept at a good, brisk pace I only had to deal with the occasional nasty little bastard, maybe one or two a minute. Coming down the mountain, when the wind waned, I began the swatting pattern. At least five would try to land every two seconds. No matter how tired I was, I could not stop unless the wind picked up…even going uphill. Their attacks are relentless. The first thing to pop in my mind was a scene from ‘Starship Troopers’, when they are first attacking planet Klendathu, and the arachnids start swarming out of their ground holes. One of the troopers turns around and screams BUUUUUUUUGS!!! at the top of his lungs…then the squad asks Ace, the squad leader, what they should do, but he freezes. Then Rico steps up, unloads half his magazine into the swarm, looks back and yells “KILL THEM, KILL THEM ALL!!!!”, after which the squad forms a line and they all scream and shoot ridiculous amounts of ammo into the endless crowd of giant insects. I swat the bastards away with growing intensity, likewise screaming out loud “KILL THEM, KILL THEM ALL!!!” Then I snap back to reality. To top off my plight, I’m out of water. So….dehydrated, a right leg full of bog-spooge, and drenched in sweat and grease from the days travels, I am grateful to have found Dooley Hostel, where I can have a glorious hot shower and sleep in a real bed, protected from the unpredictable weather and the endless swarms of warm-weather vampires. Despite bug troubles, the coutry-side here in Donegal county is absolutely gorgeous…sublime even. A visual paradise. Admittedly, I was a little spoiled the last three days couch-surfing with Sharon and her kids. Leaving them today, even after spending just a few days in their home, was like leaving family…leaving my own home. I think about watching Callum and Rebekah wave-board around the table in their huge kitchen…Callum maneuvering on the board while drinking a glass of milk, and Rebekah while brushing out kinks from her fiery red wavy hair. This is a two-wheeled skate-board most people wouldn’t be able to stay on more than a second…it took me a little while to feel remotely comfortable on it, and I am a surfer and long-boarder! Then Jack gets on this thing and carves with such ease you’d swear he had one attached to his feet coming out of the womb. From wave-boarding around the kitchen, hiking together up the Bluestack Mountains, cooking, talking, driving around the area and learning about Donegal’s social, political and cultural dealings, meeting friends and family…I feel much less like a couch-surfer, and much more like a long-term family friend…and I sense the sentiment goes both ways. These thoughts and others pass like clouds as I devour Mary’s hospitable offering, less for the taste enjoyment, and more for the need to resupply my body with circulating glucose…ahhhhh…now time for that glorious shower!


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Dan I absolutely love it!

Comment by Mirjana Trnski

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