Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mullingar and the road back to Galway

The sun came out this morning and gave me hope that it would be a glorious day. Breakfast in the appropriately named sun room was good—not great, but good. When I struck up a conversation with the one other couple in the room, I discovered that they were from Salt Lake City; they had been living in Germany for the past seven years and now were getting in a trip to Ireland before they returned home. And yes, they were Mormon, too. They wondered if I knew whether there was an LDS church in the area. Since I had planned to attend and had done my homework, I could tell them where and when, so after breakfast they followed me on the forty-minute drive to Mullingar.

I had hoped to attend services of a small LDS branch this weekend because I knew that would give me an opportunity to mingle with a different slice of the Irish population than I had had so far. The congregation in Mullingar is too small to have its own church building, so they meet in rented space in an industrial park. Looking around as the services started, I counted two teenagers and no one under the age of twelve—until a young family with three children came in after the opening song. There were maybe forty people in the worship service, half of whom left immediately afterward (including the couple from Utah who had followed me).

I decided to stay for Sunday School and Priesthood Meeting so I could have more interaction with people than one usually gets in the passive Sacrament Meeting setting. I am glad that I stayed, because I found that although I had been a bit uncomfortable during Sacrament Meeting, the discomfort dissipated during Sunday School. There were five of us in the class, discussing Jesus’ calling of the apostles as recorded in Mark. Six men attended the priesthood lesson that followed, which was called “Living Joyfully in Troubled Times.” This church experience definitely was different from being among the fifteen-thousand strong at Crossroads, and it definitely was different from being among the seventy or so who usually attend the Cincinnati Young Single Adult Branch. Here, I could tell that the members live daily trials to their faith. They are simple people with strong, unwavering spirits, just doing what they feel God wants them to do. I am glad that I stayed.  I think I am a better person because I did.

I didn’t feel like doing any more sightseeing after church, so I headed the car toward Galway. First, I took a moment to see if I could figure out how to get the Google Maps navigation to work.  I’m not sure what I did, but I was able to get it running. At that point I didn’t really need it, but it was nice to know I had navigational backup.

So, how did the driving go? Surprisingly well. It felt very natural, especially as I paid attention to my environment, to others around me, and to what they were doing. As long as I was not in my solipsistic bubble, I was able to fit in, go with the flow and be successful.  I’ve learned that all roads in Ireland are numbered, each with a letter prefix which designates the type of road.  M roads are four-lane, divided expressways, such as the M6 between Dublin and Galway. N roads are major two-lane highways, not divided, but they have lane markers down the middle and along the sides. The R roads are also two-way and have lane markers down the middle, but they are much narrower and have no side markers.  And then there are the L roads, which have no lane markers because there are no lanes!

When I got back to Galway, it was raining pretty hard. I needed to fill the gas tank before returning the rental car, so when I noticed a Texaco sign on my side of the road, I pulled in. I had to figure out which side of the car the fuel tank was on before pulling into an island, but then I noticed that the one I had chosen had a hose only on the diesel pump. So I tried another island and discovered the same thing.  A thirty-something fellow who apparently had watched me go from pump to pump rolled down his window and informed me that this was a diesel-only station, just at the moment that the same idea dawned on me. But rather than laughing at my stupidity, he told me about the cheapest place in town to buy gas—which, as luck or providence would have it, was very close to the hotel and the garage where I needed to return the car. Have I mentioned that I find the Irish kind and helpful?

When I returned to the hotel, I found that they had “upgraded” me to a room with a nicer view, and had given me two vouchers to use at the spa. With my things put away, and feeling “moved in,” so to speak, I headed for dinner. The two places that had sounded good to me were both closed on Sunday—which surprised but pleased me. I ended up at the Thai Garden. Given only two choices on the hotness scale—medium or hot—I chose medium.  Either I am getting more heat-sensitive in my old age, or else the scale in Galway starts in a very different place than it does in the US, because the soup was way too spicy for me. The waitress said that the only other choice was no spice—which turned out to be just right for me. The dinner was good and I had enough left over to take to work for lunch the next day.

During the middle of dinner, out of the blue, I got a bloody nose.  It really worried the staff, but since I’ve had more than a few bloody noses in my life, I knew what I needed to do to stop it. One man was so concerned that he kept coming into the bathroom to check on me, but I had it under control and just needed to wait it out. After all that excitement, I was happy to go back to the hotel and get into bed.

No comments:

Post a Comment