All Roads Lead to Belfast

This trip to Armagh has been a trip of many firsts for me. It was my first time flying alone, my first time with a connecting flight, and my very first time traveling to another country. The nervousness finally hit me when I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to London. I was worried about everything from plane crashes to not making my connecting flight to Dublin, but everything went fine of course – even with 2 screaming children in front of me and a kicker behind me. I got through immigration, security, and the entirety of Heathrow Airport with no problem at all, and time to spare. But, when I got to Dublin, I found out that the phone I got specifically for this trip will not work. I was supposed to make two phone calls when I got to Dublin: One to my mother (she wanted to know I was alive) and one to my ride, Joan and Kimberley (and that wasn’t supposed to be answered, the secret code was three rings and they were going to show up wearing black trench coats…neither of which happened). I found a pay phone, and after unsuccessfully contacting my ride I was pretty close to panic – no one knew I was actually in Ireland yet. I ended up downloading an app on my iPod to send texts, and with the free wi-fi at the airport I was able to contact everyone.

About two hours later, Kimberley and Joan got to the airport and we were on our way to Armagh. I was so grimy and tired that I fully intended on sleeping the entire hour and a half there, but Kim and Joan kept me thoroughly entertained. At first, they were just playing an actor/actress movie association game that would get pretty heated and words that I will not type were thrown around. I cannot explain how entertaining it was to watch them argue with each other when they would get a hard one, or if they would set themselves up (that was mostly Kim). It went from funny to hilarious when we got lost. Everywhere we ended up, Joan swore she recognized it and Kim would sink lower in the seat and say, “No you don’t. We’ve never been here”. For some reason people would drive right out in the middle of a two way road, Joan would swerve curb side, and Kim would get freaked out when tree branches would hit the window. There was a portion of time where Joan only wanted to take left turns, and at one point when we needed to take a right she was slowly but surely drifting to the left, but finally turned right. When we were really lost, Kim said we needed to stop and read the road signs at an intersection, but Joan kept drifting through anyway. At the same time, we were apparently actively avoiding Belfast, at Kim’s request. But…did you know that all roads led to Belfast?! You can’t avoid it! While trying to do that, we made this huge backwards “J” across the map to Armagh. Joan is convinced that when you turn in Northern Ireland, the Island pivots under you…and it’s never the same. Their version of “Mr. Toad’s Bumpy Ride”, as Kim called our little tour, was one of those “you would find it funnier if you had been there” things. Nonetheless, it was nothing short of hysterical.

So, as far as the last two days have gone, my first and most important lesson has been that all the Celtic knot like roads in Ireland lead to Belfast.