When it was finally time to board, we found ourselves on a small plane, much like the one we’d taken from Springfield to Chicago—only this one was emblazoned with a shamrock and the airline name Aer Lingus. Upon boarding the captain announced his name as Seamus O’Connor.
Well. That turned very Irish very quickly.
Another takeoff, more flying. By now I was in some kind of trance or limbo. This was my lot now, to be forever stuck in transit, always hopping from one airport to another amid days and nights that didn’t match my body’s internal clock. I was so tired…so tired.
A stewardess came by with a cart, offering coffee and tea. Thank Heaven. I made the strongest black tea I could coax from the pitiful tea bag. It was thin and bitter, but with a load of cream and sugar it was tolerable.
After gulping it down and following it with a second, I began to feel much better. The caffeine and sugar masked my exhaustion and gave me a small boost of energy, and as my body felt better, so did my mind. An hour or so into the flight, I was once again feeling optimistic and energetic, ready for the day’s adventures. “Good,” I thought. “That tea really helped. I think I’m pretty stable now.”
Captain O’Connor came on the intercom and announced that we were beginning our descent. “If you look out the windows on your right, you’ll see the coast of Ireland in just a moment.”
I turned once again to the window just as the plane came down through the clouds.
Whitecaps flecked the dark, slate-grey ocean, the waves running up to meet jagged cliffs of rich brown. Atop the cliffs lay fields of the deepest emerald green I had ever imagined. A tiny white farmhouse stood in the fields, only a short distance from the cliffs, looking out to sea...someone’s brave little home standing proud and content, at what must surely be the edge of the world.
Years of dreams materialized before my eyes, exactly as I had imagined them. This—this was Ireland. And as I looked down from the sky at it, the only thought in my mind was, “Good morning, beautiful.”
At which point I burst into tears.
Oh dear. Apparently I wasn’t quite as stable as I thought I was.
Trying to conceal the fact that I was crying, while simultaneously trying to lean back enough for Amanda to look past me out the window, and trying to drink in every possible glimpse I could myself, proved a complicated feat. I have no idea how well or how badly I may have carried it off—you will have to consult other sources for that information—but eventually I managed to wrestle my emotions more or less back under control, mainly by frightening them into submission with a reminder that we had another airport to get through, and that an infinite number of things could yet go wrong.
We landed in Cork and found ourselves in an airport with a remarkably comfortable and welcoming atmosphere—wooden paneling, leather-look upholstery, and lamp-style lighting provided a look much more warm and inviting than any of the other airports we’d been in. Everywhere were brochures in shades of green, advertising local attractions and businesses. The airport restaurants scattered about could easily be imagined as pleasurable dining experiences—a far cry from the “I’ll take my chances with starvation” look of most airport restaurants.
Our passports once again stamped (I had two stamps in mine now!), we made our way downstairs to the lobby and...out the front doors?
I don’t know what I had expected it would be like, but the notion of just calmly strolling out of the airport and into the outdoors of a foreign country felt strangely abrupt, as though there should be a more controlled, gradual transition.
“Wait,” I said to Amanda as we walked out onto the sidewalk, where a chilly breeze began whipping our hair, “so we’re just...turned loose?”
“We’re loose!” she echoed. “So the first thing on the agenda is to take the bus to Blarney Village...” Here she trailed off. We had crossed the wide walkway to the bus stop, where a sign bluntly declared:
“There are no buses.”
And, we've finally arrived in Ireland! I'm really excited to be to this point in the story - some of my favorite stories from the trip are coming up pretty soon. Can't wait to share them with you all!