The Enterprise Rent-A-Car woman looks up our reservation and comments that we have a special LGBT package, and, after a “wink wink” look at Tom and me, she insists that we get her best car. Nervously, I accept the upgrade, not wanting to give off any vibes that my driving skills are less than amazing. We’re soon off through the labyrinthine Dublin streets, and I get surprisingly good at closely following the cars in front of me out of the congested streets
“So we’ll be there in about an hour?” I ask Tom as my clammy hands try to grip the leather steering wheel.
“More like three,” Tom states.
“What do you mean? Ireland isn’t that big, and we’re just driving right there,” I say pointing to an imaginary location against the backdrop of pouring rain.
It’s my first time driving on the “wrong side of the road,” and my first time driving for over a half a year, and I’m desperately trying to conceal my anxiety.
“I think your sense of geography is way off Joe,” Tom says disapprovingly.
I calmly collect myself and mentally prepare for a three-hour drive and our adventure ahead.
“JOE, JOE, JOE,” Tom screams as I realize I’m instinctively drifting to the right and swerve back over left. “This is going to be a long drive,” he adds grumpily. Not even ten minutes out of Dublin on the M6, and we’re rerouted because of heavy winds and flooding. We’re brought to just-as-flooded country roads where an inch away from us on one side, cars and tractors are whizzing by with Irish fury, and an inch to the other side are zigzagging country rock walls.
“Lots of people on the country roads don’t even have licenses,” Tom proudly points out as an oncoming tractor forces me near centimeters from a stone wall.
Then, we get stuck behind a caravan of cars. One by one, they swerve into the right lane, waving a big screw you to the oncoming traffic as they pass something. When it’s our turn to go around the road obstruction, I realize it’s a herd of sheep, just relaxing against the wet centuries-old pavement.
“It’s just some sheep Joe, just pass,” my no-license backseat driver commands. Upon his order, I do my first, of many, death-defying maneuvers in Ireland, but that’s part of what you have to love about this country. Here, with each turn down a sinuous road, where “One Way” signs are just suggestions, you’ll uncover a place filled with the unexpected.