Reflection: Hitchhiking in Ireland

This is a fun post from when I was having a down day near the end of my trip.

November 2013 //

As I was writing this blog it went from a rant to the story of my recent adventure hitchhiking in Ireland. But I liked the introduction that I had wrote so I just wanted to say that this went from a rant to an adventure story. Hope you enjoy!

I usually try to be cheerful with my blog, but sometimes life sucks and I get writer’s block if I try to be remotely cheerful. Hence the reason I haven’t posted anything in two weeks. In fact I’ve barely even been on the internet these past two weeks! Now before I go on my little rant I would just like to list some of the things that I have experienced or done these past couple of weeks:

  • Built a blanket fort out of my bottom bunk in the hostel I am currently at
  • Read five books in three days and all of them over 500 pages
  • Walked all over Limerick
  • Went to a gay bar in Limerick
  • Hitchhiked
  • Got tricked into buying an illegal rail ticket
  • Cooked some delicious food
  • Had the Garda drive past and ignore me when I was clearly walking on a road I shouldn’t have been
  • Got a cold, got rid of cold, caught it again
  • Caught up on Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon A Time, and Parks and Recreation
  • Have been berated by multiple homeless people because apparently I look like an easy target
  • Got called a Yank

A few of the things on this list were really great and I enjoyed them a lot, I mean how can you not enjoy a blanket fort? However a couple of these things really sucked, like the hitchhiking. I had been told that hitchhiking was very easy in Ireland and that it didn’t take long to get a ride to where you needed to go. I have heard this from every person that I have asked about hitchhiking and these people have been from all over Ireland. So when I unexpectedly got into a bind and my best (only) option was to hitchhike. I thought no problem I will be fine I can take care of myself and people are pretty friendly here. I got up really early and walked twenty-thirty minutes to where the equivalent of a freeway was and stuck out my thumb.

I also want to mention it was pouring down rain and when I say pouring I mean I felt like I should have been swimming not walking. I thought sure someone will pick me up. If I was driving and I saw a woman with a backpack in the rain trying to hitchhike I would pick her up and to be honest I haven’t been one to pick up hitchhikers in the past. I waited and waited and waited and then I went ahead and waited some more. Was I doing something wrong? Was there some other signal that I was supposed to be using? At this point I am completely soaked and the wind is picking up when a wonderful guy stopped and said he wasn’t going far but it would be better than nothing. I thanked him profusely! Now my hopes rising because there hadn’t been too many cars that had passed me and it was fairly early on a Sunday morning, but now someone had picked me up and I was on my way!

We talked a bit about where I was from and the few months he had spent in Minnesota 22 years ago on a small farm. He was a nice guy and said he was going to go to breakfast and then head up to the next town where he lived. We arrived in the town he was stopping in for breakfast and he directed me to the best place to hitchhike and said that if I was still there when he was done eating he would give me a ride into the next town. I walked down the block to the petrol(gas) station and stuck out my thumb again. It was here that I had a pretty bad bout of anger. I was standing to the side of the petrol station and sticking my thumb out when I realized that some of the drivers were making hand gestures at me as the drove by. A few teenage guy drivers would give me the thumbs up sign and laugh as they drove past. I sincerely hope that they have the same situation happen to them and realize that if they are a guy driving by themselves in a car and don’t stop to pick up a lady hitchhiker instead making fun of her, then they are douche bags.

The other hand gesture I was receiving was people throwing up their hand in a way that is perceived as rude to me. It’s when you put your hand flat and flick it up just a bit. To me that is generally meant in a rude way and I was becoming pretty discouraged by the large amount of people doing this to me. Have they never seen a hitchhiker before? Had the people I talked to about hitchhiking lied to me for some kind of cruel joke? I waited for about 30-40 minutes when the guy that had picked me up previously drove by again and picked me up. I mentioned that people must not be into hitchhikers in this area because of the gestures they had been making at me. He started laughing and told me that was the gesture they use to let hitchhikers know that they are turning off of the road not far up ahead and that it would be useless to pick them up. This made me very glad that I hadn’t yelled at anyone for doing it because I had really, really thought about it.

The breakfast guy drove me another five minutes up the road and dropped me off at the bus station stop. I was there for maybe a minute and a guy from India in a pretty creepy sounding van picked me up. He was pretty nice but definitely not a talker. He took me up to the next town and dropped me off. My hopes at this point had risen quite a bit and I stood hopeful at the petrol station that I had walked to. I was hopeful for the first half hour and then hope deserted me for the rest of my hitchhiking adventure. I waited another half hour and then I started walking. I walked for thirty minutes until I found an abandoned petrol station. There I waited again for twenty minutes until I found out it was a turn around spot for a lot of cars and I couldn’t handle the constant emotional up and down of someone pulling into this abandoned station to turn their cars around. I ended up walking another half hour and then waiting another hour before someone picked me up.

He was a really nice guy around my age and he felt really sorry for me. He said that he wished he could take me all the way to where I was going but he was going to lunch with his parents in the next town. So here I was finally halfway to my destination hours and hours after I started hitchhiking when to drive straight there would have taken an hour and thirty minutes. I waited for two hours at the end of that town waiting for someone to pick me up and some teenage guys drove me into the next town where I walked another twenty minutes to the end of the town only to wait another hour before someone picked me up. Now I want to say that this guys intentions were really good, but he seriously didn’t think through what he was doing. He said he could take me up the road and that it wouldn’t be far but it would be something. As all the other people had also said that I assumed that he was going into the next town. He was not.

He drove me for literally a minute and a half and pulled off onto his turn and dropped me off while wishing me good luck. It was at this point that I realized I was pretty screwed. The road that the guy had dropped me off on the motorway which I am pretty sure you aren’t supposed to be on. There were no spots for anyone to pull off of the road and the speed limit was 100km/h. I tried to hitch a ride for a while and realized it was pretty unlikely that someone was going to pick me up here and that I would have to walk into the next town. Unfortunately for me the next town was 15 miles away and if I walk an average of a 15 minute mile that would take me almost four hours to walk. Guess how many minutes it would be to drive that distance. 18 minutes.

I walked a little less than half the distance and no one had picked me up when I realized that it was about to get dark and it was going to happen really quickly. I walked a little bit more and ended up in this tiny pub 4km  outside Knocknagoshel where the sweet lady at the bar gave me a sandwich and some tea before I went on my way again. I highly recommend going to this bar if you are ever in this area. Mostly because of the shocked look you will see on the faces of the 3-4 people in the bar. Google 52.320993,-9.361346 and go to street view. It literally doesn’t even have a name! Anyways really sweet people, but kind of scary at the same time. I went back up to the freeway and waited for another hour. One guy stopped but he was going the opposite direction.

I had just started to think about camping out for the night down by the river and mentally going through everything in my backpack and how I was going to keep the electronics from getting wet in the night and what I could do to make sure I was as comfortable as possible when this old man in a creepy, creepy car told me he would stop and put his hazards lights on so someone would pick me up. He was very rude in the way that he spoke to me so I was thoroughly confused that he was being so nice to me. Anyways I got picked up in less than a minute and driven all the way home.

Moral of this very very long story about my long and unusual adventure is that hitchhiking for the first time wasn’t easy. If you are going to hitchhike or it might even be a possibility be prepared in case you get stuck somewhere unusual and try and get someone to put there hazards on for you!


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