Thumbing and Bumming, A Ballybunion experience for the books.

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It’s exactly what you think.

One of the oldest methods of getting around in the book. It is now I can say, I too, have done it(successfully).

After leaving Galway, I decided I wanted to go to a beach. Being from Florida, I guess it’s no surprise that I was dying to swim in the ocean. So, I checked out, headed for the train station, and started making my way out west.

The journey consisted of 1 train and 1 bus, all together it was about 5 hours, and I landed in a town called Listowel.

The map was showing me that I was about 10 miles from the beach, but there are no busses that drop you off there. Damn. So close, yet so far. But I was determined to get there, and so I took off on foot.

It is, after all, Irelandso with having a pub to choose from literally every 5 steps you take, I stopped and had my much deserved beer.

Here is where I met the bartender, her name was Claire. She was a very pretty, younger looking woman who seemed to know everyone who was there by name. In between her bursts of being bombarded by thirsty Irish folks, she’d swing by and chat with me.

Ballybunion. I told her that’s where I was headed. She said it was beautiful and definitely a must see. Then, with her heavy accent, she asked me if I was “tumbing

Barley understanding what she was saying, I gave her a confused look. She repeated herself, and did the “thumbs up” hitch hiking gesture. Ohh thumbing! The idea had not even crossed my mind, so of course I answered with a yes, yes I am. She was certain I would get a ride, since it is a smaller town and everyone was friendly for the most part. So I finished my drink and continued off on foot, in the direction in which she pointed.

“Am I really going to do this right now?”  I asked myself.

In my head: Shit, it’s a 10 mile walk, it’s extremely hot, the road is busy, there’s no sidewalk,the cars are flying passed me…

I’m cracking up,  I was sweating, but still dying laughing cause I just could not believe I was actually doing this. Still laughing at myself, I stuck my thumb out and kept walking.

Not even 5 minutes went by and someone pulled over for me. It was a guy and a girl, the guy was in a wheelchair, driving one of those crazy handicapped little black vans, and the girl was in the passenger’s seat. They seemed ok to me and so I hopped in. We were chatting it up, you know, “what’s your name, where are you from, where are you going” blah blah blah the usual. The girl mentioned that we were coming up on a bar that her sister and brother in law owned and asked if I wanted to stop.

You already know my answer to that.

So we stopped, and there was a good crowd of people there. Everyone knew each other and they introduced me to the bunch. It was great, it felt just like home. The weather was nice so all the people there were very happy. One girl said it’s the first time in a long while that she’s gotten to wear her sunglasses. Crazy how back home we take the sunshine for granted.

Anyways, after that, they took me the rest of the way to Ballybunion. Filled with gratitude, I probably thanked them a million times.

Finally, I finally made it.

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Not going to lie, the environment made me feel a little bit out of place. Mostly everyone there was on a family vacation, I was a fish out of water. I could definitely feel the judgement from people as I walked around, but screw it, I bet they all wish they could have as much fun as me.

The only hostel I found was completely full, shit. Gotta keep looking. Still don’t really care though, worst case scenario, I set up shop on the beach.

Walking, walking, walking, taking in the awesome views, and then…

boom! I found it. A small restaurant/bar/hotel on the top of the hill.  Nothing too special, but not terrible. The people hanging out there seemed alright, good location, why not?

I go inside and ask if they have any rooms and sure enough they did. Here I met a chick named Fiona. She was pretty much like me. Working at the hotel check in counter to get by, living by the beach. Yea, you get it.

She was amazed that I was going around the whole country by myself and kept saying I was so brave. Anyways, she got me a sweet deal on the room because she thinks girls should look out for one another. Something I’ve spent damn near my whole life preaching made its way back to me. I was so excited.

This was the view from my balcony

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Not quite sure where I’m headed next, but I guess anything can happen!

much love

-Erin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wounded Warrior

 

Last year, I found myself face down on the ground, hesitant to stand up. How did
this happen, one may ask?

 

Well, my best friend and I decided to take a trip to Thailand. When we got there, we headed North to explore my personal favorite town, Pai. As we arrived we rented a moped to cover more ground. Everything was going great and we were having the time of our lives.

 

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Until the accident happened.

I was driving, and she was on the back. We were going down a gravel road and the tires lost traction and slipped. We went flying off the moped. My adrenaline was going faster than Usain Bolt at the olympics, and it took me a second to process what had just happened. So there I was, laying in the middle of the road.

When I did finally stand up, I glanced over at her and she was fine. Instantly I was filled with relief. I felt fine too, until I looked down at my right knee and could see straight to the bone. It was by far the nastiest thing I’ve managed to do to my own body (so far).

What happened next was truly incredible though. The locals rushed over to us
and took total control of the situation. Mind you, they spoke minimal English and neither of us speak Thai, so the communication was a little iffy, but that didn’t matter to them. This family had a small first aid kit in their car and managed to rinse my knee and stop the bleeding, while some of the others sat on the curb with my friend to calm her down. They didn’t care who we were, what we looked like or where we came from. Those people just saw that we needed help and they gave us exactly that.

They got us to the nearest hospital, where I got 8 stitches in my leg and 3 in my arm. The quality of care was nothing compared to what we have in the US, but it was better than nothing I suppose.

After that, I continued the trip. Yep, I was down to only one functioning leg at the time, but I guess that’s why I was born with a backup.

A few days went by, and we were in the Phi Phi Islands. They had a travelers medical center so I went there to get my wound cleaned. The doctor there decided to take out the stitches because he said they were done so poorly. Here’s a visual

 

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The doctor cleaned me up real good and sent me on my way. I stopped for a drink and found a place to sign up for an early morning boat tour of the islands for something awesome to do the next day, crippled or not.

The next morning, as the sun was rising, we took off and sailed to paradise. I wasn’t supposed to get my leg wet so I thought I was going to have to miss out on all the fun….

Luckily, I was wrong.

The tour guide was truly a saint. He took duct tape and a plastic bag and tied that shit up right to my leg to keep it dry. It actually worked! So him, my friend and I spent the majority of the day cracking up, soaking up the sun and enjoying the perfect day in the most beautiful place in the world. Now I see why they call it “the land of smiles”

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That’s us!

At the time, I was a little embarrassed by my stupidity and tendency to behave recklessly. But I’ve realized more good has come from the experience than bad. I was able to meet some of the best people imaginable, share my story with the world, develop into the fearless female backpacker, learn to handle anything that may happen on the road, and more importantly, pay it forward.

 

I’m from Orlando, Florida. Therefore, tourists from all over the world visit our city year-round. From that day, I’ve made it a point to always take care of our foreign visitors they way the citizens of Thailand did for me, even if it is something as simple as helping with directions.

I’m all healed now, but I have plenty of body surface area for more scars.

Thanks for reading!

-Erin