Navigating from the Dublin Docks through town and out to Kilmainham was a feat for the three of us with instruments in tow.
They wouldn't call it rain, no, the Irish have many different words for the varying degrees of precipitation, but as far as my untrained American eye could tell it was somewhere between "a slight mist" and "spitting" and we were getting wet. We pulled our things under the bus stop overhang waiting for Robert to run to the corner shop to get change for a tenner and, consequently, missed our bus.
You know, one of those every hour on the hour buses.
Couch surfing had pulled through, or we assumed it had, we hadn't had internet in the afternoon to confirm our arrival time, but the last message had said "confirmed" in green and the guy had given us his address so we showed up expecting at least a corner to curl up in...
What we got was a whole lot more...
Peter looked at us shaking his head when we walked up his drive "I didn't think yous were coming," he said "I sent three messages today and you didn't respond - mind you the last one is quite rude! Come in!"
We walked into the impressive old house, creaky wood floors in the hall, and 70s wood paneling in the dining room to do with the collection of vintage brown pottery (including a miniature pint of beer that was a shot glass and a big cartoon dog head with a handle that was presumably a pint glass!)
"I guess I won't read the last message-" Robert started, but Peter interrupted him, "-Oh read the message!" he said "And I'll tell you it says something about how when things are free you are to be treating them as such!"
He was already getting out biscuits and boiling the kettle as he was talking. There was almost an aggression to his hospitality, after tea he got out bread, butter, and individually packaged slices of cheese and we were going to eat sandwiches! No was not an option.
Peter was on his way out of the house but one of his housemates, Bharat, had started cooking and the house was filled with the smell of curry and spices.
Bharat explained that there is a difference between "spicy" and "hot" and that his food is both. He said he never cooks for just one person, he always cooks for at least three or four. He brought out little plates and forks for us to try his curry and watched our faces carefully as we ate our first bites "you never know when somebody is going to cry." He said, but we didn't cry, it was delicious, a perfect balance of spicy and hot!
Before meeting Julian (pronounced Yule-ian) we heard the story of how he had never tried spicy food (let alone hot food) before he'd moved in to the house and smelled Bharat's food.
Day one he tried a big bite, turned red, started sweating, and spit it up into the compost.
Day two he tried a smaller bite, turned red, starting sweating, and spit it up into the compost.
Day three he was drunk and he ate half a bowl, but man did it keep him up all night!
Day four he tried a big bite and kept it down.
Day five he was waiting with a bowl when Bharat was done cooking.
"He's been stealing my food ever since!" Bharat exclaimed, and at that moment, right on cue, Julian entered.
Julian was loud and his English was broken, he offered us vodka and smoked Bulgarian sausages and fried pork (I got a smaller fork than the boys because I am a woman, that was his explanation, but later when he saw me stand up he retracted that sentiment pretty quickly, I am unamused.) Julian told us about his ten years in jail, the man he beat up to get there, and his boxing career before all that (I only caught the odd bit here and there, I was, as ever uninterested in participating in conversation that is riddled with sexism. Let's just say that the giving me the small fork wasn't the half of it, and we'll leave it at that.)
Bharat brought out tea
a refreshing change of pace
"Strawberries from the garden
A lot of the Mint (it chokes the garden)
A little lime, but not today
Oh, and regular tea underneath it all!"
Isaac, Robert and I pulled out our instruments and played a few songs, the hours had gotten away from us, it was soon time to retire to our little room (a large Wendy House/shed at the end of the back garden.)
Peter had said he'd rather not see us in the morning, but he'd said it with a wink, and when we did see him in the morning he was halfway through making us a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast.
We left to catch our bus to Cork with Peter's well wishes of "may your time in Ireland fill you pockets and fill your souls!"
It was been quite the welcome. The generosity and hospitality of these three very different characters has inspired us, as we step forward to whatever comes next!