Upon awakening - sun! What a change from the raging storm of the night before. Downing our museli, floating on a sea of o.j. with a sliced banana topping, we were out to explore the beaches of Ballybunion (renown in Ireland) and the beach-side golf courses which are world famous. The sky was cloudy to the west but seemed promising. But the wind!! As we walked to see this famous beach, our bodies leaned into that ferocious head wind which propelled those dark clouds shoreward. Our anticipated sunny day dissipated.
But the rain didn't stop us from seeing the town, including the small library, a converted stone church facing beachward. We stopped here and there under awnings when the drizzle became too heavy. Mothers pushed strollers encased in clear protective vinyl, ignoring the rain dampening their heads, taking the weather in their stride.
We opted for a morning tea break and canvassed town looking for a "proper place" to escape the drizzle. One place was too expensive; one looked boring. We concluded that the tiny tea shop next to the bakery suited us nicely. Inside, the tea room, more correctly described as a very small room off the kitchen, was stuffed with two tables set for four or six patrons who would become very close friends if all were seated at the same time. Catholic relics were hung over every square inch of wall space, and Christian statues balanced precariously here and there along the edges of the room. The vigorous flames of the kitchen stove danced in plain view. We ordered our usual "pot of tea for three" after determining that it would cost us 50p each. And to whet our mid-morning appetites, we asked for scones, for which we each had paid 30p yesterday. Upon receiving the bill, we were shocked that the mundane scones with butter and jam were £1 EACH, plus our 50p each for the tea. Although horrified, we didn't argue, as we felt foolish for not asking prior to ordering, and didn't want to appear to be Ugly Americans. We felt taken, and were angry both at ourselves and the shop owner.
As I've ridden along I've noticed the women. They look to be middle-aged, and so unhappy. The old women walk, and wear babushkas; the old men sit on benches, and ride bicycles. And there were cows everywhere!
On our right, as we passed through Ballyduff, was "Your Man's Lounge"...where the women can find their men who are finding solace downing a pint...or two.
I heard on the radio that this was national condom week in staunchly Catholic Ireland. There was dissonance in connecting a radio commercial with birth control.
We visited the Round Tower outside of Ballyduff, said to be the most well preserved in Ireland, long ago used by monks for storage. Next to the tower was an ancient cemetery overgrown with weeds and bordered by lanes of huge headed cabbages...the first agricultural crop we have seen. The flowers we've seen have been predominantly hydrangeas and geraniums with accents of colorful snapdragons.
Along the way a small dog (they all seem small-to-medium, slightly square, and furry) came running toward me. I never know whether or not their hearts are lusting after human blood, and it is a quite an adrenaline rush while that critical assessment is made, meanwhile the legs increase pedal velocity "just in case." At that moment an oversized St. Bernard, long red tongue dangling out of his mouth and scruffy matted fur covering his body, lumbered by, absolutely uninterested in us. The smaller dog was fascinated, forsaking me for him.
The wind howled. It exhausted me! For every pedal stroke, I used the energy of three. It must have been more than a 20 mph wind that we were fighting. At Ballyheigue we called it a day. Defeated by mother nature, we struggled to pedal only 18 miles.
The caravan park wasn't great, but it sufficed. We met folks from New York who were visiting relatives. They raved about Dingle, and then gave us hints as to where to find the best price in groceries in this tiny town, and where to get bar meals. Food was very expensive!
In the grocery store I said to the woman behind the counter, a pleasant young Irish lass, "I have a really stupid question." Without even a pause, she anticipated me with, "You want to know what 'dog bread' [sitting on the counter] is?" And continued, "It's got extra vitamins [vitt-a-mins] and they feed it to dogs." We should have given it to the big fuzzy black and white thing that ran out wagging it's tail, chasing us.
Before settling into camp for the day, we pedaled the 10 mi. loop around Kerry Head Peninsula - a "green (designated scenic route) road." And rightly so. Hedgerows of 5 ft. wild fuchsia bushes lined the road, just tall enough to hide behind, their red petals and purple sepals brightly contrasted against the green leaves; small farms delineated by three foot high dry stone fences; numerous inquisitive but friendly dogs; and views across Ballyheigue Bay to the Dingle Peninsula. I stood there looking out over an emerald green field filled with a convention of cows. This field appeared to tumble like waves of green lava flowing into the sea. Looking across the Atlantic to the Dingle Peninsula it was simply beautiful!
(As I write, here in the warmth of the pub lounge we have commented on how busy this pub is. The center of this town's social life.)