The Tour Guide
"... Those damned government officials, who’re driving this country off the tracks! Sorry, folks. I'll try to stick to the script for the remainder of this tour. Our tour of County Wicklow and Kilkenny where we'll briefly cross into County Kildare and Carlow as well. The weathemen have announced that today we'll see some rain. Let's hope God keeps our feet dry until after our walk at Glendalough." As we were leaving the bay of Dublin coming into the Garden Of Ireland - County Wicklow - Jerry, our tour guide, sitting next to the busdriver Dermott (that had been earlier introduced) explained:
"County Wicklow has been used in many films, amongst them are Excalibur, Braveheart and P.S. I Love you. And for the guys; the latter - that's a CHICK FLICK! I haven't seen it either." Scattered giggles and laughs came from the back of the bus from some of the male tour-goers. As I sat there next to my two girlfriends I thought that Jerry reminded me of someone. A cartoon figure, a thought replied and then elaborated. A leprechaun, one of the first things one sees when arriving in Ireland. Jerry was a solid built man, with dark brown hair (not red) probably about 167 cm tall. I'd say he was in the start of his forties. What struck me as cartoonish was the set of his mouth. His teeth, in particular. They were the opposite of straight but it seemed to suit him. As if the hand that had painted him thought that it was the touch of perfection. He had an element of humor about him. Well, no more than the next man. Or woman. Everyone has elements of humor about them. That's Love's signature telling us not to take everything too seriously. Me, for example, I have my eyes. I have these big, blue eyes. Dådyrøjne, we call them in Danish. It literally means deer eyes. The phrase refers to big, beautiful, pleading and irresistible eyes. Like those of a deer. Mostly I actually do find my eyes beautiful. Sometimes, I find them humorous. You know, like caught- in-the headlights- kind- of-funny? My eyes are not the reason I'm here, though. Or actually maybe they are.
Why am I here? In this bus in this beautiful green country filled with sheep, handsome men (it is untrue that Irish men are unattractive) with an even more handsome accent and women with a very special, energetic vibrancy? Well, one reason is to see the County Wicklow and Kilkenny briefly crossing into County Kildare and Carlow. Another, which is probably the main reason, is to figure out what path I need to take. This is where my eyesight comes in.
Before I left for Ireland with my girlfriends, my eyes had been bothering me. Maybe it seems a very small thing. But God and the Devil are in the detail... Anyways, my vision had begun to blur. As it does when you sit in the car, driving too fast, velocity not allowing you to see the details of the landscape that rushes past outside. In fact I had begun to feel the stress of the life I'd been living. Always moving from one place to another, never settling or being present.
I need to change that. I need to figure out what I want to do with my life. Really do with my life. Presently I'm a student at the University in Denmark. But somehow, it doesn't seem to suit me. I can't say what exactly is wrong. It just doesn't feel right.
"All right, folks. In a few minutes we'll be coming into Glendalough - which means valley of the two lakes and Dermott here will take us as close to the Upper Lake as possible. Actually, in the Upper Lake you can do some fine fishing should you want to one day. Perches are amongst one of the catches I’ve made there. Then – from the parking lot we will walk up to the lake and head back down to the Lower Lake. It's a short walk - about two kilometers. A walk that will take about twenty minutes, half an hour. If you'd like to come I'll be waiting at the stone over there -" Jerry pointed to a boulder at the far end of the parking lot. "If you need to use the toilets you can, and if you'd rather stay in the bus and the warmth, you're welcome to go with Dermott to the parking lot at the Lower Lake. If you need a warm cup of coffee you can get that or whatever you’d like at the hotel across from the monastic ruins. We'll reassemble in the bus at 11.30 to head down to Kilkenny."
As I stepped outside with Kathryn, one of my girlfriends, I noticed that Talia, the other, had vanished towards the toilets.
"My God, it's cold!", Kathryn said and pulled her hat down further over her head.
I nodded and moved forward toward the vast lake that lay ahead surrounded by mountains in a v-shaped valley. As Jerry had explained earlier, the v shaped valley that materialized before the group was due to the drawback of the ice in the most recent ice age that it had taken this shape. A cold wind was blowing, making my body shiver. It was cold. That was a fact. But complaining about it wouldn't help. I suddenly felt fed up with the negative vibrations that had seemed to come off of Kathryn the whole week we'd been in Ireland. Sure, I had my own part in it, I could try and change the subject. Yet the continuous complaints seemed only to weigh my spirit down - almost locking me into some sort of spiritual dead waters. Making me feel unable to act, unable to move. God is in the word, I've once read. (It says so many places. In the bible, the fairytales. The magical word Abracadabra is one example. The phrase Open Sesame is another.) Which is why you have to be careful with which words you speak.
A minute or so later Kathryn and I were at the lake’s edge, waiting for Talia to join us and the rest of the group. Looking at the scenery that had opened up in front of me, a calm, serene feeling descended upon me. At the edge of my eyesight a beam of sunlight protruding through the skies, caught the eyes of the lake and made it glisten. I had the sensation that I was standing in an ancient place, with stories and mysteries so unfathomable that it was only in flares like this, that they were hinted at. Maybe that was what I was missing in my life: magic. How do you go about finding magic? It seems to me that every question must have an answer. Otherwise the question could not exist. The answer that came to me was this: you need to look at the world differently.
As Talia joined us, Jerry began to speak.
“Should you be so inclined you can, as we get back to the hotel, make a donation to the mountain rescue team in this area.” He turned and pointed to a small cottage not too far from where we stood. “They’re in the need of a new headquarters, as this one has become too small. The guys do a great job, but are voluntary.” Jerry turned back toward the group. “One of my friends who work as a volunteer with the mountain rescue team told me about a call they’d received once. A group of people had gone hiking hereabouts. In the morning the weather had been sunny and warm, so they’d just worn shorts and t-shirts. But as they got to the top of the mountain, it had begun snowing. That’s how fast the weather can change here in Ireland! So - as we learned when I was a boy scout: be prepared. For when they got to the top, and were lucky enough to have cell-reception to call for help, the mountain rescuer that took the call asked: “Well, which mountain are you on?” And when the answer amounts to: “the tall one”, then the mountain rescue team has a hard time finding ya! So, make sure you know where you are, what the name of the mountain is. Otherwise it may cost you more than a phone call.”
Written by: Charlotte Luxhoej