Thursday, July 28
Aran Islands, Ireland
I get to cross something off my list of "things to do before I die"! I have now flown in a prop plane, something I've wanted to do since forever. Dani got to be the co-pilot, and although I was insanely jealous, I was also thrilled for her and left camera duty in her capable hands. When we boarded the jet at DFW, Aidan lamented that we weren't flying in a plane "with spinny thangs on the wings". At the time, we hadn't planned to fly to the islands (we were going to take a ferry), so we didn't even mention it as a possibilty. But after spending a week driving in Ireland, we came to the realization that you don't get anwhere as fast as you think you can, and so to make the trip doable in a day, we decided to take a 10-minute flight rather than a 40-minute ferry ride. Aidan was ecstatic. Our plane seated 10 passengers (including the pilot). It was a very odd feeling, watching the ocean below me. It felt as though we were barely moving, as if we were hovering over the sea. I watched the propellors in flight, and the wheels as we landed. I loved being able to see through the windshield, and since we were sitting under the wings, there was none of that annoying wing blindness that you get on a big jet. The whole experience was exhillarating.
The island of Inishmore was....how do I say this... bland. It's all rock. The only soil is that which farmers carried up from the beach years and years ago (a mixture of sand and seaweed).
The main attraction on Inishmore is Dun Aengus, a stone fortress that was built in 500 B.C. It's surrounded by four walls, except for one side (the only one that NEEDS a wall). The floor disappears at your feet, 300 feet to the sea below. Darren ventured to within 3 feet of the edge. I wish I could have make the trek - I'd have bellied up to the edge and peered over. (Maybe would've peed myself, but I'd have done it!)
Darren and Aidan were the only ones to make the trek up to Dun Aengus. My lame foot, Grandma and her cane, Ian and his slow gait, and Dani and her desire to shop all stayed behind in the village. I can't imagine living there, where there are so few trees. There's one small grocery store, and one bank, which is only open one day a week. The tiny island is laced with 2000 miles of stone fences. Only 750 people live there. In the summer months, their industry is tourism. The rest of the year, they fish. Lobster is their biggest breadwinner.
Darren thought the island was beautiful, and was offended when I said it was ugly. But it was ugly in an interesting way.