Ballinfull, Co Sligo, Ireland- Just days after I got the nerve to post about living in the van, the thing spontaneously combusts! Rolfe and I were headed to town, I cranked the engine and it wouldn’t turn over. I tried again and voila! it started, with an extra, special plume of smoke coming from the engine.
I freaked, hopped out of the van, popped the bonnet to open her up and there was a small fire ablazin’. Sweet! I tried to blow it out. (stop laughing) It persisted so I grabbed Rolfe and ran frantically around the other side of the house, expecting the whole thing to blow. I spun around and round like a dreidel, dreidel in the meantime calling Molly, my landlady-neighbor to tell her, “The van is on fire!” Still smoking, I secured Rolfe and decided to try harder to save the van.
I grabbed a hoodie that was still damp, drying on the line to extinguish the fire. Moments later, Gary (Molly’s husband of 41 years) arrived to investigate. The electrical around the battery was completely singed.
Is this a sign telling me to give up my journey as a van woman? Naw, I think it means fix her up, get a sub-woofer.
A weekend without wheels in rural Ireland was great! Until it wasn’t. The truth is without my veg going or the hens laying, food was scarce. We took turns riding the bike into the village, determined to keep the coffee and ciggy stockpile fierce.
I told Gary I’d look for a car on Done Deal (Irish Craigslist) and done make me a deal! He said, “Now, I’m not telling you what to do but…” advised me to go down the lane to the neighborhood garage. There I was greeted by two stately German Shepherds, and a genuine Irishman. Genuine in the sense that he says ‘fuckin’ every fifth word and has a heart of gold.
Ladies and gents I am the proud owner of a 2003 Ford Fiesta and it is exactly like driving a go cart. The car guy’s best advice was to give meself! plenty of time to get to town. I thought he meant this as a precaution because I’d be wanting to turn into on-coming traffic, seated on the opposite side than what I am used to. Or, I would have to get used to the clutch, but no, it’s because, it literally. takes. longer. I feel so cute driving it like somehow I am petite. It has a sunroof, but it’s not electric. There is a hook that I thought was for dry cleaning, or something but it is actually a hand crank which would be life saving in an unexpected underwater event.
I am thoroughly impressed with the Irish hospitality. It is underpopulated and they make every effort to help you out, make you feel welcome and part of their lush rural haven. Google actually gives hitch-hiking time travel estimates. “Eye?” “Eye!” They seem to take care of one another, no matter where ye come from.