Ciotóg


My family has rented a car – one big enough for the 5 of us and their suitcases. Roberto, my father, is frustrated when he can’t find the keyhole; it takes him a few minutes to realize that it will be on the right hand side, and so will the steering wheel. This is an Irish market car. They drive on the left here in Ireland. There are roundabouts and narrow winding streets, and thin, rectangular street signs nailed to buildings – blink and you’ll miss ’em.

I’m wringing my hands in the lobby of their hotel when they arrive; my mother, my father, Diego and Joy; all of them in one piece. I’ve lived in left-hand traffic countries for the past three years and though I’m finally getting used to the system, you  couldn’t pay me to drive. But that’s me; I hate driving even when it’s on the right. For his part, my father seems remarkably calm – says the first 15 minutes were “interesting” but after that, it was a piece of cake. I ask Diego for the truth. He is grim.

They’ve rented a GPS to go with their left-side traffic car. They ask me where they should visit while I’m in class. I tell them: “Howth” and they punch “Hote” in the GPS. I tell them, “Malahide Castle,” and they say, “Mally-che?” Molly Malone is similarly dubbed, “Who?” then “Molly May” and, later, “Molly O’Malley.” They pick me up one day after class and we head to Powerscourt, which my mother calls “Powerscribe” in her facebook status update. My father is particularly proud that he has typed, “Anuscarry” in the GPS.

Roberto helms the wheel for most of the trip. After he misunderstands a few commands and makes a few illegal U-turns, Diego switches the GPS language to my father’s native tongue: “Maybe this will get through to you.” 

Recalculating is recalculando in Spanish.

Sometimes, in Dublin City, we don’t need the GPS at all because I know where we are. This is very exciting to me. I  brag to my family that I’ve learned where to go from riding the bus: “brava,” they say. I stop bragging when I realize that my directions have led us into the bus lanes. Look left, look right; hope there are no Gardaí in sight.

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