Andy had to work the next day, so we went on a walk. Down the road, through the gate, through a field, then a forest, then another field, until you get to the river. We spent most of the walk hanging out in a field of curious but hesitant sheep. When Andy returned he took us to his local where I was was likened to some Kendall related to the Kardashians and Valerie had her first Irish Guinness. We had take away (curry chips!) then retired once again to our own private bar.
The next day would be a bit of a challenge. It started with us on a school bus destined for Omagh. It figures that the first time I would set foot on a school bus would be in a foreign country at the age of twenty-two. From Omagh we walked a ways before thumbing. All in all it took us three and a half hours and three rides to get to the Giants Causeway. We were transported by a very east Londonly accented man, a non-talkative Lithuanian woman with meditative music and an incense scented car (admittedly I fell asleep during this particular leg of the journey), and an enthusiastic older couple. The couple insisted on taking us all the way to the Giants Causeway once they learned that was our destination. They drove us along the coastal road, stopped at the Bushmills distillery, and offered us a place for the night, should we need accomodation. They were such lovely people! We all wanted to take them up on their offer, but we already had too many destinations and too little time.
The information people at the Giants Causeway were also fabulously kind. As we unloaded our packs, a woman came and offered to keep an eye on them so we would have to carry them while sightseeing. She also insisted that ‘they (Northern Ireland) don’t have any rapists or murderers. Not like England!’ Alright then. We left our bags and walked the twenty minute path. I thought it was well worth seeing. We had lunch (well, Cliff bars) on the odd formations of stone. It was here that the decision was made to skip Belfast in addition to Derry. Our path today would be directly to Larne, where we were meant to catch the ferry.
A Northern Irish man, a German girl driving a car with the steering wheel on the right and her mother, a Chinese/Irish man, and a twenty-year-old Northern Irish were our means of getting to Larne. The German girl, a seasoned hitchhiker herself, insisted that we not say ‘thank you’ at the end, but merely pass it on – pick up a fellow hitchhiker. I like that philosophy. Our final ride, young Tim, turned out to be a first time hitching lift. Also, through our conversation we learned that he is involved with a local non-denominational church. I do believe this marks the first fellow christian I have met over here. He became our unquestionable favorite ride for the day. Tim drove us past the castle in his town, which he intends on invading for his twenty-first birthday in a few weeks. He also made a stop to show us his mate’s puppies. Puppies win.
We were dropped in the ferry port town of Larne, where we were meant to camp. Unfortunately, despite walking for what felt like ages in search of trees, we determined that Larne was thoroughly unforested. So we trudged back to the ferry port to set up a different sort of camp. Fortunately the ferry port employees proved as kind as the rest of the people we had encountered that day. They offered us cushioned benches in the closed, dark cafe rather than the red metal ones saturated in fluorescence. We had a decent night’s sleep before our early departure. Two hours across the ocean brought us to Scotland.
The first day hitching in Scotland compared poorly with our experiences in Ireland. After so much walking, a few hours of waiting, and surprisingly only two lifts, we did make it to our destination.