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Survival, Cinderella style


HERO FROM HOME Roscommon man Michael Grady presenting lost runners to Ciara Galvin in Cusco, Peru.

Diary of a home bird

Ciara Galvin

I have survived the infamous Death Road in Bolivia. After breaking two bike chains in Argentina I wasn’t too confident with peddling down the worst road in the world, but ‘when in Rome’ (or La Paz).
We heard some truly grim tales of people plunging over the side of cliff faces just two months previous, but we tried to be positive. I, however, became a bit two positive and had one glass of sherry too many the night before our trip. Waking up at 7.45am (30 minutes before our scheduled departure) with one contact lens in my eye wasn’t my finest hour.
The show had to go on though, so pulling on the Mayo jersey, I made my way down to meet the Irish contingent we travelled with … It was a great day for the parishes of Knockcroghery, Castlerea, Enniscrone and Roscommon Town and Moate. Alas, It wasn’t long before there was a casualty, and I’ll give you one guess who it was.
I hadn’t even officially made it onto Death Road, and just three minutes after our instructor had asked us to be careful and not to fall in front of the camera, there I was, over the handlebars of my mountain bike, with a bruised hip and an even more bruised ego.
That was it though; for the next 64 kilometres I was ‘taking her handy’ as our Boliviano instructor Eddie had put it. I was ‘taking her’ so handy that I got a round of applause at each viewpoint, as my group had more often than not arrived ten minutes ahead of me. ‘Mayo for sandwiches’ became the anthem of the day, courtesy of the Roscommon contingent – but they were put back in their box fairly lively as the Mayo group, including Francis from the end of the runway in Knock, reminded them that they hadn’t won a Connacht title since 2010.
So we lived to tell the tale. Truth be told, the journey in the bus on the way home was more death defying than the day’s activities. On our return to La Paz we found some decent wifi to let everyone know we’d survived. Clicking on to the hostel’s wifi that night I was met with not one, but two emails from the female roomie. I was impressed she’d taken it upon herself to send a mail, even if the entire email was written in the subject line. (That’s on the lesson plan for when I get back.)
All in all, I’m counting it as a success that we’re three months in and relatively unscathed, despite an emergency room visit for me in the middle of Atacama Desert, leaving my runners behind me in La Paz and getting my bank card swallowed by an ATM machine. It was the loss of the runners that haunted me the most. The bank card is replaceable; try finding a decent pair of Nikes out here.
I’ve Madre on the job of getting a new card. Fingers crossed it will land in Lima before me. And the runners? Well, thanks to one of our Roscommon compadres, who escorted my damp Nikes all the way to Peru for me safe and sound (and smelly!), I’m no longer rocking the ‘German tourist’ look.
No matter where you are you can always bank on the Irish to dig you out of a hole.

In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old who has recently spread her wings and flown her parents’ coop.

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