Backpackers don’t cry. Even when they find themselves stranded in a rainy town on the northwest coast of Ireland, with no phone, no wifi, and not having eaten anything all day. This is how I arrived in Donegal, and let me tell you, I really sort of wanted to just sit down and bawl my freaking eyes out.
I had never felt less like a true backpacker. Because true backpackers are adventurers who just go where the wind takes them and figure it out as they go, RIGHT? Who needs lunch or an umbrella or a place to sleep? Adventurers are not supposed to panic.
Let me back up. I had arranged to stay two weeks at a farm somewhere in between Donegal and Letterkenny to help someone I’d connected with via Workaway build a website. I didn’t know exactly where, and I had only a first name & email address. We had exchanged a few emails, the last of which told him I’d be arriving in Donegal around 3:30pm on Sunday.
Why did I not get a more details? Because I was going with the WIND, dammit. I didn’t NEED details.
Standing there at that bus drop-off in the rain for 45 minutes, waiting for someone to show up, I was sending up a big F-You to the wind. I glanced around to see if anyone seemed to be looking for me. The only person who seemed to be paying any attention to me at all was a puffy-faced man with a Hitler mustache slowly licking a chocolate ice-cream bar.
“Oh my god, don’t be the person I’m supposed to meet,” I thought.
I considered getting a bus back to Dublin, but the ticket offices are closed on Sundays. I walked down to the tourist information center but…you guessed it, closed on Sundays.
I walked around until I found a little café that grudgingly let me use their wifi. I guess they weren’t all that thrilled about having a soaking wet girl with an over-sized backpack shivering and drinking coffee in the corner. Probably bad for business.
I shot off an email to the person I was supposed to meet and Googled the farm to see if there was an address. There was! And I could walk there in….5 hours.
The only people around seemed to be tourists more lost than I was. And creepy ice-cream eating guy, who was STILL standing there licking what had to be his third ice-cream bar. Wtf? Who just stands in the rain eating chocolate ice-cream bars??
So, walking was out. It didn’t look like I’d have much luck hitchhiking, and the sun was going down. Time to find a room. And a drink.
I checked Hostelworld, which had exactly ONE listing for Donegal. I paid for the coffee and started hiking in that direction. After half an hour of chatting with some girls in the living room about Spanish TV I was just starting to dry out when a spritely man with chalk-white hair and a corduroy blazer came bursting in.
“Ah, there you are!” he exclaimed, putting an arm around my shoulder.
You can understand how I was little confused, seeing as I was pretty sure no one knew who I was in Donegal. Maybe he mistook me for someone else? Or maybe he was senile?
“Come on, grab your things and we’ll be off, then.”
Now I was supposed to just hop in a car with this guy?? All of this going-where-the-wind-takes-me stuff was starting to get old fast. The wind can big time suck it.
Then it dawned on me. (Yeah, I was a little slow on the uptake but it had been a LONG day, and I’d done more drinking than sleeping the last 2 nights in Dublin). This was the guy I was supposed to meet here.
“I forgot whether ye said ye were going to Letterkenny or Donegal so I went to Letterkenny and waited for 2 hours. Then I went home and read yer email and saw you were in Donegal. I figured you’d have made your way here by now so I came to fetch ye. Let’s go get a pint.”
And so we did. And then 2 more.
“So did ye think I wasn’t coming for ye?” he asked.
“Nah,” I assured him breezily. “No big deal. I’m a backpacker. I just go where the wind takes me.”