Greta, the same woman who had checked us in, had been unexpectedly assigned to work that day and she wasn’t too happy about it, although she remained as cheerful and animated as ever to us. She had wanted to watch the hurling championship on TV, along with the entire rest of the country.
Hurling is the official sport of Ireland. A game of ancient Gaelic origin, it is played with sticks and a ball. Several years ago, Time magazine suggested that golf had evolved from the game of hurling “by a more cautious race.” Since in hurling no protective body padding is worn and only in 2010 are helmets being mandated for players of all levels, it is not a game for wimps. Not as much can be said for golfers.
After breakfast, it was time to leave Dublin. We pulled our bags towards the bus station, not far away. After we had gone only half a block, a taxi drove by and asked if we were going to the airport. My first instinct was to say no since I was sure the price would surpass the cost of the bus. However, after realizing the driver had said he would take us for 5 Euro each, I calculated that it was actually cheaper than bus tickets — and a whole lot easier! I yelled after him, “Yes!”
He whipped the taxi around and helped us stash our luggage into the trunk. Thinking this was too good to be true, I asked if luggage was extra. “No! Don’t worry!” he said, and flashed a friendly smile.
His name was Victor — a big African man with a ready laugh. He asked all about us — where we lived, where we were going. He confessed that Ireland needs American tourist dollars right now since they are in a deep economic crisis.
During the ride, talk turned to weather. (Later, as we traveled throughout the country, we noticed that weather was often one of the first subjects the Irish bring up, almost apologizing for it.) After much joking with Victor, he suddenly became serious. “I want you to remember this one thing — and please take this advice,” he implored. We waited silently for his sage words: “Never come here in January!” “Why?” we asked. “The weather is miserable!!!!” We laughed all the way to the airport.
He had to circle around a couple of times until finally arriving at the correct spot from where we would rent our car. Victor drove off after handshakes and a tip and we went in to sign the rental forms and pick up our car.