Achill Love

Two months, one sprained ankle, half a munted wrist, 237 midgie bites and 6 unidentifiable bruises later….

I’m still alive. Just. Achill is doing it’s best to break me, or maybe I’m just a bit stupid.

Things I’ve learnt over the past two months, or rather, things I should have learnt but continue to ignore in the spirit of good craic.

1. Don’t wear flip flops to Achill Head, seediest and slipperiest nightclub I’ve visited in Ireland (that’s saying something). You will fall over. At least thrice.

2. A beverage titled ‘Green Poison’ is not for the consumption of little girls. The name fits.

3. Bicycling at 2am is not a good idea, even when sober.

4. It’s especially not good when there are as many potholes as there are on Achill.

5. You also should not choose a bike with no brakes. This is just a general life rule that we should all abide by.

6. Swimming on an Irish beach in the middle of the night is going to be cold. Fripply, even.

7. It’s going to be colder if you don’t wear any clothes.

8. When you live in a hostel, it’s impossible to escape people. They will be there when you try to dash from the shower to your room in only a towel. They will laugh and point. You will probably drop your knickers.

9. Showers are either very cold or they are satan water. It’s like roulette. There is no such thing as warm. Or maybe that’s just the Valley House..

10. Bedtime is 2am, no earlier. If you go to bed earlier, it will be an amazing night and you will have missed out.

11. Beach parties make your hair and clothes smell like fire for days. Baking soda does not remove this smell.

12. Holey clothes are okay so long as the holes are not in naughty places.

13. Yoga with a sprained ankle and bung wrist is a challenge, and one that I am willing to accept.

14. Old men like to watch young women do yoga.

14. French people don’t lock the toilet door when they are doing number twos. Even when in a hostel.

15. Kids smell and leave a lot of crumbs.

16. Midgies will follow you to bed and try to get in there with you. You do not want to sleep with midgies.

17. It’s perfectly acceptable to order vegetable soup everywhere you go, because it is always the cheapest thing on the menu.

18. Avocados and hummus are the holy grail of helpx. They will only last one day. Feast.

19. Despite best intentions, you will probably not get up at 7.30am to do yoga and drink green smoothies when you’re living on Achill.

20. It’s very alarming when you leave Achill and re enter normal society. People are loud and look at you like you’re homeless, especially when you pay for everything with tip money.

21. You probably DO need to shower. A sea swim probably doesn’t count.

22. Sun is rare. When it comes, take off most of your clothes and bask.

23. The island wakes at 11am.

24. Time really flies when you don’t wake until 11am.

25. Even really ugly Irish people are babes. I LOVE THEM ALL.

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Craic.

I always feel like a bit of a knob saying the word “craic”, because I feel like it’s sort of reserved for actual Irish people. But I like to say it anyway, because there is no English equivalent.

Basically, there is some tremendous craic here at the Valley House. One night, I decided to be a good girl and go to bed prior to 12am, at which point I was pronounced ‘shit craic’, which is just the worst thing someone could call you. I went to bed and lay there, thinking about how shit my craic is, listening to everyone being fun in the pub. That may well be the hardest thing about being here – you cannot go to bed early without experiencing extreme FOMO, only exacerbated by the fact you live next to the pub, therefore you can hear everything from your bedroom. Saxophones, guitars and all.

There are many different different words for different levels of craic. You might say:

Savage craic!
Mighty craic!
Having the craic!
What’s the craic?
Where’s the craic?
That’s no craic…
Negative craic!
Minus craic!

My personal fave is savage. Savage craic. Apparently they also say ‘savage cabbage’, which I shall attempt to integrate into daily conversation.

I went a bit AWOL these past few weeks. This is the effect that Achill Island has on you.. You forget to communicate with people, you spend all of your time wandering around aimlessly, talking to people, eating strange combinations of food from the HelpXers fridge, taking photos of scenery, being spontaneous and ripping your clothing. (Not in a sexy way, really).

In my past couple of weeks we have had a wedding (still recovering), I’ve been snorkelling, kayaking, hiking, camping with strangers, sunbathing (believe it or not), sleeping, driving around….. We have taken a few trips to the nearby town of Westport, once with the innocent intention of getting groceries…. We never returned. The craic overpowered us.

All I seem to take photos of is the beautiful scenery, yet it somehow never quite captures the magnificence. (Is that a word?)

In terms of seeking balance, I am doing okay. The first week or so was a write-off. Too much party time, not enough nap. But in my mind, celebration is good for the soul. Now I’m trying to do some yoga everyday (even if it’s only for 15 minutes), going for plenty of beach walks, eating all the fruits and vegetables that no one else eats, drinking apple cider vinegar every morning….. And trying to catch up on sleep when I can. Also, I am managing to maintain the no shampooing situation. Occasionally people look at me like I am homeless, but that’s sort of acceptable on Achill. I wash with baking soda, rinse with ACV, and occasionally treat myself to some essential oils!

I think it’s best to enjoy the situation I’m in right now, not stress about the change in my routine (we can’t all live on yoga retreats 24/7), and just have as much fun as possible. Fun is very important for one’s wellbeing. A different kind of wellbeing. Stress is counterproductive. It’s impossible to be stressed in such a beautiful place.

Here are some photos… Feast your eyes.

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