Tiredness, jet lag, disappointment, and a big dose of self pity made my summer travel adventure more challenging.
But the seatbelts on the bus to Londonderry made the challenge even worse.
I choked as I strapped in, “AHHHHG-GAAAAGGGG!’
The seatbelts had torturous qualities with malicious intentions of strangulation.
“Seatbelts must be worn!” our tour guide said after our group boarded. Click. Click. Click. We all dutifully obeyed.
This compulsory seatbelt law in the United Kingdom must have an ulterior motive. Either to slowly kill tourists by constriction or to prevent their return to their country.
“We make our own rules,” Jodee said, smiling as she released the latch on her seatbelt.
I like to follow Jodee’s “rules” as her rules are always more fun. She is the only person I know who can get me to run in the rain without a coat or umbrella and consider it an adventure of dripping wet hair. I unclicked my seatbelt also, and inhaled freedom.
Our bus chugged along country roads, leading out of Belfast and heading toward Londonderry, a 15th-century walled village. We passed by creeks bubbling along without a care, pigs rooting in fields, and motionless black-faced sheep as if too content to move. We cruised past bucolic farms, hedgerows, and cows that politely grazed pastures lit up in 50 shades of green.
“This is Dungiven Castle,” our guide said as the bus slowed down to give us a better look. The castle resembled Prince Charming’s palace sitting right there on the side of the road. Prince Charming had to be nearby. As I aimed my camera, the bus took off with a jolt. Whoa! I fell toward the kindly gentleman in the seat across the aisle, but caught my balance before landing in his lap. That’s what happens when you disobey the rules and don’t wear your seatbelt.
The humming drone of the bus made me feel tired and I felt my eyes closing. I had dreamed of being in Ireland for so long and now all I wanted was sleep. “Oh beautiful (yawn) fairytale cottages, zzzzzz.”
I woke up when our tour guide announced, “That’s Gallagher’s Field. Amelia Earhart landed there after her first woman solo flight across the Atlantic. She knocked on Gallagher’s door and asked, ‘Where am I?'”
Not even fifty feet away, or maybe one-hundred, I witnessed a piece of history. Right over there in that cow pasture in 1932 Amelia Earhart landed her Lockheed Vega. The first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic in an airplane. Hooray for women. We can do anything we put our mind to.
Unlike Amelia, I didn’t put my mind to what I needed to do. That was, to let go of what had gone wrong. Instead, I chose to cling to my disappointment and self-pity.
Our day in Londonderry included a stroll on the Medieval stone wall surrounding the town, taking pictures of cannons, retail therapy in picturesque Irish shops, and a lunch of Guinness Pie.
“Guinness Pie tasted so good you couldn’t even taste the liver,” Becca said afterward. What! Becca, tell me you’re kidding! There wasn’t liver in the Guinness Pie, was there? Yeech, I liked it until now.
At the day’s end we headed for our bus back at the Visitor Center. We soon found ourselves lost in a maze of shops with no apparent exit. We had no idea which way to go. I asked a lady with a baby in a stroller if she could tell us how to get to the Visitor Center.
The lady’s mother, a smartly dressed fiftyish woman with upswept strawberry-blond hair stepped over to me and said, “I know where it is. I’ll show you. Follow me.” She turned to her daughter and said, “Rhiannon, meet me downstairs.”
She led us through the shopping maze and down an escalator. As we rode the escalator, I said to the kind Irish lady, “In America, no one would take the time to lead us when we ask for directions. They would tell us.”
“Well, you’re in Ireland now,” she said with a warm smile. She stopped and pointed to an exit and said, “The Visitor Center is right outside that door.”
Perhaps this one act of kindness was the highlight of my trip. It made me realize that life isn’t about checking off the dreams on our bucket list and getting upset when things don’t go the way we want.
Life is funny. It never works if you try to make yourself happy. Instead, happiness comes when you give it away in kind gestures and caring and letting go of hurts and disappointments.
I think of the kindnesses Jodee showed me and Becca as well as to strangers while on our trip. She wasn’t bemoaning our misfortune like I was. She was taking care of hotel accommodations, buying replacement clothes for Becca, and helping elderly passengers retrieve their luggage from the overhead bin on the airplane.
I would have never learned as much about life, or myself, if we hadn’t missed our flight, languished three days in airports, missed three days of our cruise, lost our luggage….
May the dreams you hold dearest
be those which come true,
and the kindness you spread
keep returning to you.
♥♥♥Scotland is next, so check back for Part VI.