was the first time I had ever hitched alone and I must
admit to being a little apprehensive. Also, I never realised
how tiring it could be just standing there with your thumb
sticking out. With each passing car that thumb slowly
started to wilt. Half an hour passed and no one had stopped,
so I decided that I would walk along as I hitched. At
least that way I would be making some progress. Innishannon
was only ten kilometres away and at worst I could walk
all the way. Although, I had serious reservations about
my fitness level allowing me to do this. I'm certainly
not averse to walking, I do it quite often. But normally
I'm not carrying such a heavy weight on my back in the
process. Even so, I figured it better than standing around
waiting for a lift that may never come, and so trotted
off along the road.
the corner the road narrowed somewhat. This made it slightly
difficult to hitch, especially when big trucks would come
hurtling around the corner. I didn't dare stick out my
thumb for fear of losing it. Because of this the drivers
didn't think I was hitching and would just wave at me
as they passed. I did manage to thumb the cars that passed.
None of them stopped though. However one did pull in to
a parking bay further down the road.
refrained from running down after them, in case they hadn't
actually stopped for me. It could have been quite embarrassing
for all of us had I jumped into their car only to find
they had just stopped to read a map. In the distance I
could see a woman get out and take a photo. This confirmed
my suspicion. But as I got closer I could see the driver
beckoning me over with a wave of his hand.
far you goin?' came a distinctly American voice, as I
arrived at the window.
explained my situation and they both agreed to take me
there. He made room in the boot for my backpack and then
room in the back for me. They certainly had plenty of
Don and his wife were on holiday from Maine. I call him
Nervous Don because Don was his name, obviously, and he
was as nervous as hell when it came to driving on these
tiny country roads. I didn't blame him really because
after being used to the wide highways of America, the
narrow, twisting lanes of County Cork must have come as
quite a culture shock. Being on the other side of the
road probably didn't help matters much either. Don was
so tense behind that wheel that I suspected you would
be unable to pull a needle out of his arse with a four-wheel
They wanted to get to the Beara Peninsula in West Cork.
As Don drove cautiously along the road I took the map
and helped them out with directions. Their plan was to
take the coastal road that, advantageously for me, went
it looks like you'll get a lift all the way!' said Mrs
we ever make it there. They were completely lost.
can't seem to find the turn off for this coastal road,'
explained Mrs Don.
looked at their map. 'I think you've passed it,' I said.
'You need to turn around.'
Don nervously turned the car around in the narrow road
and headed back the way we had come.
though, it soon began to look as though they had passed
the turn off for that road way back before even meeting
me. We followed the road back to where I was picked up
and still there was no sign of the coastal road. I suspected
that we just needed to go back to Kinsale and cross the
river. However they weren't so optimistic, and so they
both decided to continue on the way they had been going
and take the inland road to the Beara Peninsula, much
to my disappointment. I consulted the map and saw that
their new route would take us through Bandon, a town further
along the Bus Éireann route. I suggested they drop
me off there. The further I could get the better. I noticed
that the distances on the road signs were given in both
kilometres and miles. From what I could work out, the
old white signs were in miles while the modern green ones
were in kilometres. Could cause confusion.
thing I was to discover in West Cork - and something Don
and his wife were about to never forget for as long as
they live - was the fact that all traffic, no matter what
size, uses these country roads. As we approached a sharp
turn a huge industrial dumper truck suddenly came hurtling
around the corner and veered down upon us, taking up most
of the road. Don impulsively swung the car into the hedge
as his wife screamed, 'Oh my god!' The truck zoomed on
past and Don crept cautiously forward again, possibly
in need of fresh underwear.
made it safely to Bandon and they dropped me by the side
of the road. I thanked them for the lift and bade them
both farewell, wishing them luck; I figured they'd need
it. Somehow I suspected that pin would be even more difficult
to pull out now