Assistant Sports Editor
As I took the last step off the stairs, the gust of wind pushed me back. I struggled to work through the wall of wind, my jacket pinned to my chest. I put my head down and slowly took one step after another closer to the edge. I navigated around the small puddles before slowly lowering myself to the rocky ground.
I began to meticulously inch closer before finally releasing my legs off of the edge. I looked down some unknown amount of distance to the rocky beach below. My heart rate quickened as I sat just inches from instantaneous death. One loss of balance, one push from behind, or one slip up, and I would plummet to my death.
My pulse raced as I peered my head over my knees and above my ankles. Nearly my entire body was hanging or teetering over the rock face. I slowly leaned back and pulled my phone from my pocket, extending my hands and taking a picture. Quickly, I retracted my hands, taking no care as I stuffed my phone into my pocket and began moving back away from the edge. In little scoots, I made my way back off the edge. I waited until I was a couple feet from the drop off before turning and standing up, before sprinting with a smile on my face to more comfortable ground. I had stared death in the eye, but I didn’t look too long.
It took my heart a couple minutes to finally relax. Again, I looked around and took in the beautiful views at the Cliffs of Moher. To my left, there was a single castle towards the entrance to the cliffs. There, I could see the postcard image of the Cliffs of Moher, the five harsh cliff faces jutting out into the ocean, water smashing into them. I was standing at the furthest reachable part of the cliffs. Behind me was a taste of home, cow pastures. Unlike the familiar Vermont fields, this one rolled quickly down the hillside towards the ocean before pulling up and creating a cliff face of its own, unreachable from my vantage point.
As breathtaking as the cliffs are, the journey to the cliffs was just as awe-inspiring. The winding roads tinged on the edge of car sickness, but the rock walls covering the country side and soft rolling sea to our right eased those concerns. As we whipped through the narrow roads, roads just barely big enough for two small cars to fit through, I sat just feet away from the carefully crafted rock walls that decorated the countryside.
All throughout Ireland, rock walls are a staple. No fences cutting off fields for livestock or marking the end of one’s property. Each wall is delicately put together, no rocks jutting out the sides or disrupting the uniform top to the wall. As if they were made by a machine, the walls break apart fields and properties.
It makes you wonder where that many rocks come from, but driving to the Cliffs of Moher, you learn quickly. Scattered across the massive hills that separate the coast from the midland are millions of rocks. The hills no longer look green. Now they look as if they have been draped in medieval armor, glimmering with a soft metallic glow.
Throughout my voyage I have found similarities between Vermont and the countries we go to. In France, I saw the Vermont pastures in the countryside. In Germany, I saw the same distant mountains that I saw in Vermont. But Ireland, simply put, there is no comparison. It is its own fields, its own mountains, its own postcards. Ireland is its own beauty.
Marshall Hastings will continue to chronicle his travels with semester at sea in the weeks to come