Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Sign Says “Do Not Climb”

It is apparent that when people see signs that strongly suggest that visitors stay away from the ledge, not climb over walls, or better yet, the ground beneath you is eroding…they simply throw caution to the wind, say, “Nothing bad will happen to me,” and ultimately, go near the ledge, climb over the wall, and forget that the ground beneath them is eroding.

Just imagine, you are more than 600 feet above the ocean below, you have a breathtaking view of the sea and the skyline, the birds are flying frantically around the sea bottom in search of food, and you’re in Ireland. This was the scene in Galway when my mom and I visited the Cliffs of Moher. To see them from a distance, if you are lucky and it is a good day, they look almost like stairs…for a giant. However, like Ireland weather tends to be, if it is a bad day, the fog and rain can cause the Cliffs to disappear as if they never existed…a giant fairytale.
Luckily for us, we went on a good day. To see these iconic cliffs, it is an experience that words can never fully describe, nor can a camera fully capture. The walkway split two ways, right and left. To the left, one can walk what looks to be five miles out onto the cliffs. We opted to go right. Upon seeing the stairs before us, I knew I could handle it. Having a personal trainer tends to help; however, my poor mother…well, we had to stop once or twice so she could catch her breath. In her defense, anyone who isn’t used to climbing numerous stairs often would have a difficult time. These short stops however, allowed for great photo opportunities.
Me at the Cliffs of Moher and the safety wall behind me
Along the side of us, a chest high concrete wall lined the cliffs. Obviously, this is where my title comes into play. Signs were posted everyone, reminding visitors of the dangers of climbing over. The weather in Ireland can sometimes be unpredictable and our tour guide warned us that one strong gust of wind could knock you off balance, sending you over the cliff and into the blue abyss below. However, he did mention that if that were to happen, to look to the right and we would have a fabulous view of Galway Bay.
Crazy visitors posing on the Cliffs ledge
Opting to stay on solid ground, we both agreed that the view we were currently seeing was just as beautiful behind the wall. The weather that day was sunny, but the wind was whipping around us, making us glad that we had our heavy coats. Reaching the top, we looked back to our left and there before us were the Cliffs. Extending out into the sea, I had hoped to be able to compare the sight to others I have seen in the past, but I couldn’t…this sight was one of its own.
Chiseled and jagged rock built more than 600 feet into the air, grass that was alive and well standing high at its top, the edges so terrifying, yet, so inviting. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people had come to this place to spend their last moments of life…so peaceful and calm. That thought was fleeting and terrifying all in one. The grass around us showed so green in the sun. The Ireland rain kept it smelling so fresh and crisp.

Taking more photos than what is “normal,” we simply stood at the top and stared out onto the ocean and the Cliffs standing high above it. I couldn’t help but wonder what my mom was thinking, seeing as she had never seen any sight like this before. I felt blessed to have her standing there with me, experiencing that moment.
Spending two hours at the Cliffs, we ventured back down to return to our tour bus. The time we spent at the Cliffs was one I will never forget. Seeing sights like this is what quenches my thirst for traveling. These are sights that only in person can it truly be cherished and appreciated. As a believer, it is amazing what God has created. I feel completely humbled to have seen these great Cliffs – a place that holds much importance to the Irish people, but much joy and beauty to any and all who visit.


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