Stories on whales, dolphins and wonderment

We got to Mary’s car and she pointed to the handiwork on her car door. Some smart arse had written  ‘’I like cock’’ into the dusty layer on the driver’s side. We laughed over it momentarily then promptly forgot all about it as we piled my considerable luggage into the boot of her car. Time was on our side, 4 hours before my flight to New Zealand and according to local knowledge, it would take no more than an hour tops to get to the airport.

I had flown from NZ in April to spend some time in Ireland, Canada and then Ireland again. The summer had been an incredible one, travelling around seeing friends and family in Ireland. I had then gone to Canada to work as a wildlife photographer and blogger for a whale watching company in Vancouver Island. I was back home for the last couple of weeks of summer to say my goodbyes to everyone before I headed back to NZ for the Antipodean summer.

Mentally I was ready to go back but I had a few niggles. Dad was 90, would I see him again? Why was I living for almost a decade on the other side of the planet? My career was stalling ever so slightly and I wanted more fiscal and emotional certainty. Whatever these concerns were, I put them aside and focused on the summer ahead, seeing my crazy friends in Dunedin and enjoying all the season had to offer.

So there we were driving along and it’s rush hour traffic so no immediate cause for concern. After 10 minutes or so of going slower than an incontinent snail, it began to dawn on me that there may be a problem. I turned the radio on to see if there were any traffic delays but heard nothing. A sign ahead confirmed my suspicions, exit 6 off the motorway was closed, why, we could not tell. It seemed the gridlock was everywhere, both on and off the motorway. We had nowhere to go, so we remained, in a procession of paralysed cars.

The penny was beginning to drop with myself and Mary. My flight was leaving at 8.45 pm and it was now after 6pm. We had covered a miserable few kms in over an hour and things were not changing anytime soon. Despite the slight increase in our blood pressure and the feeling of rising panic, the men in the cars around us were all smiles. A guy to my left gawped into our car as we sputtered forward and the guys in the van to our right looked ready to jump into our car and join us. Ah well I thought, stress must be agreeable to us with all this attention. Our compadres on the right continued to smile and wave at us. I was feeling slightly bemused and even flattered when one rolled down his window to talk to us and take a photo. It was then that we realised why we were so popular, the lovely note on Mary’s door was like a beacon to all things male.

They were more than keen to engage us in conversation, not surprising when we were declaring our supposed preferences to the world. The guy with the camera took a rapid succession of shots and maybe even film. I think neither of us knew whether to be mortified or amused, we were both I’m sure. Visions of our reddening faces and the offending car door posted all over the internet were swirling around in my head. Jaysus all this, and already I know I am not going to make my flight to New Zealand.

At this point I had rung the airport, talked to various officials from the airline and the booking agent. The agent advised me to take it easy in traffic and try not to rush to the airport. Funny when the highlight of our eve after 8pm was being able to go fast enough to get into 3rd gear. Disheartened and dying for a pee, we crawled towards exit 6 at 8.30pm. Bye bye plane, would have been nice to know you a bit better. The rain started to bucket down, matching my gloomy countenance. I was glad the weather was peeing for us, so I could not see my plane mocking me as I remained landlocked.

We came off the mire that was the M50 motorway and headed towards Blanchardstown to get an alternate route to the airport. I might have missed my flight but I was sure that the airport would put me on the next available flight. Besides, I had travel insurance to cover me right? Right?! I had a flick through my travel documents to look at my insurance policy and realised to my horror that I was not covered. I thought I was clever at the start of my trip, buying insurance to cover the flight time from NZ to save money. My plan was to buy my insurance for the leg back later in the summer but of course I forgot.

I rang the airport to see what could be done and they informed me that the airline desk had closed for the eve and I would have to wait till the morning to talk to someone. Mary and I were in serious need of a pit stop so we pulled in at a little satellite town on the way to Blanchardstown. We ran across the road to a local pub and entered the realm of man. They locals were propped up at the bar and swivelled around to see us as we scuttled rapidly towards the ladies. On our way out we stopped to ask one of the curious locals how to find our way back home. He walked us outside and pointed us South.

Suzanne Burns 2014.

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