My alarm goes off at 7am and I reset it for 7.15, except that I don't and somehow change it to 8.15. When it goes off again I can hear the wind howling outside. I'm sure I've missed my surf lesson so I roll over and go back to sleep. An hour later I hear Cormac packing. I blame him for me missing my lesson but he's unrepentant. Now I'm awake so decide to get a shower and grab breakfast. When I get over to the reception area Cormac has his bags set out and is looking far more energetic than he should.
"Man are you going on the tour?" he asks.
"Hole in the Wall".
"C'mon they're about to leave, it's really cool, you have to go".
He more or less pushes me out the door to where an open top truck is waiting to leave. I see Neil standing there and apologise for missing the lesson. My hung over expression says it all and he tells me not to worry. I clamber into the back row and Gerry takes pity on me and hands me an apple. I'm sitting next to Dominic and it's absolutely freezing as start along the road. The sky is overcast and threatening and wearing only jeans, t-shirt and hoody, I'm completely unprepared for sitting exposed in an open top truck. Dominic pulls a poncho from her bag and hands it to me. It's big enough for at least two people and the wind blows it up around me like a hot air balloon. Everyone turns to take photos but I don't care. I'm too cold, tired and hungry. The apple Gerry gave me is pathetically small. Probably the smallest apple I've ever eaten.
It's quite a drive to Hole in the Wall and I start to regret not bringing any food or water. Normally the tour is a walk to Hole in the Wall, lunch there and a drive back but today the weather is so bad that we are driving there so that people have the choice whether to walk back or take the truck. Only Yuko and Angie opt for the latter, with me thinking that if I go back to Coffee Shack I'll just lie around feeling tired. Hole in the Wall is quite self-explanatory in name - it is a giant natural wall of rock sitting just out from the shore with a big hole in the middle of it through which the seas surges. We stand looking at it for a while before beginning the two and a half hour walk back to Coffee Bay, with our ever faithful walking expert, Gerry, in the lead. He doesn't say much and doesn't stop often today. This must be his idea of hell. Not only is he being made to walk but he is doing it with a one hundred mile per hour wind and a tonne of rain blowing in our backs.
Despite the weather I'm instantly glad that I opted for the walk. We meander up and down hills, across beaches and along cliff tops, with the only sound being the wind and the crashing of waves. It's surprisingly green and if it weren't for the occasional palm tree it would be virtually indistinguishable from the north coast of Ireland (that's a compliment). While the north coast of Ireland has the Giant's Causeway, here we have the Hole in the Wall and copious amounts of dolphins. At one point I see what must be at least thirty of them gliding along the waves and jumping through the air. For that alone it is worth the walk. I'm strategically walking with Liz who has a much better camera than me. She will be my photographer today. Liz asks me about the year that I worked in Chile. I'm a bit surprised by this because I didn't think I had mentioned that to her.
"Oh yes, you were talking about it last night and when the Israeli girl asked what you did there you said you worked as a male prostitute and then acted offended when she couldn't stop laughing".
Don't remember that conversation at all.
The wind is so strong that by the time Coffee Bay is in sight the back of my jeans, hoody and t-shirt beneath are soaked through, while the front of me is virtually bone dry. We move onto the road which is a dirt lane with deep channels torn through it by the rainwater gushing by. The surface is so slippery and muddy that I jump up on the bank and walk there. An old man approaches in a pickup truck and smiles wryly at the sight of us. Suddenly two of his tires sink into one of the muddy channels and the wheels begin to spin. He revs the engine loudly but can't stop from rolling back down the hill. I return his prior smile and take a photo. The others move off the road as he battles in vain to climb the hill. Eventually he gives up and turns the engine off.
Back at Coffee shack I run over to my room to get changed then grab blankets from a dorm by reception and take over the sofas with Maike and Dominic. We spend the afternoon watching Madagascar 2 while the rain hammers down relentlessly. It's like the end of the world outside. The girls are optimistic that there can't be much water left in the sky. I tell them that Ireland is proof that there's always more water left. This is supposed to be the dry season when it's not unusual to have as little as four days of rain in three months! Neil warms me that there is unlikely to be surfing the next day. He thinks the river will burst and if it does there will be a lot of debris in the water. I hear a rumour that Cormac hasn't actually left and this is later confirmed when he shows up at dinner. Apparently his bags were loaded onto the bus and then, to keep it legal, I'll just say that something happened which meant that he felt unfit to travel. He took his bags back off the bus and booked a room for the night. After dinner I point blank refuse to accept any drink that he hands me and my reward is winning Killer Pool. Unfortunately for me tomorrow's day trip is cancelled due to the weather and so my prize becomes a free cocktail. I take my drink and get as far from Cormac as possible, going instead to watch another film with Dominic and Maike. When I saw them in the morning they had looked annoyingly unaffected by the previous night but now it's clear that they're suffering and we get about forty-five minutes into Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince before both are falling asleep.
Finally I have the chance for an early night. What could go wrong? I step outside to find the small river that I could previously jump over to get to my room has now grown in size with all the rain. It's cold and wet and there's no way I'm about to take off my shoes, roll up my jeans and wade through it in the dark. I go back inside to find someone to moan to and instead come across Lara and Sebastian, both of whom have just arrived and will be sharing my dorm. They seem completely nonplussed by the river and suggest I wait until they finish their drink and we all go together. I'm adamant that I'm going to just sleep in the empty dorm beside reception but somehow they convince me to go with them and we end up doing exactly what I hadn't wanted to do.
"This is really fun", gushes Lara, as we wade through the cold river water. "It's so different!"
See how fun it is after you've spent three hours walking in the pouring rain...
We walk barefooted over the stones and up the grassy bank to the bathroom where we dry off and get ready for bed. Never a dull moment here.