This post is not about a specific country, but about a specific journey. Quite a crazy one. My friend Tom and I decided to hitchhike from Portugal to France. Why? basically I was cold. I’m not very good at planning when I’m really cold. It was the end of November. Tom wanted to go to Switzerland to visit his family and I knew that from Geneva it would be cheaper to take a flight home. Is it the wisest decision? probably not- I could’ve gone to the Canary Islands….. but oh well that’s the thing about traveling- if you’re lost you have to listen to your instincts. And if your instincts decides to shut up at the moment you need them- you have to trust the universe to lead you on your way. And if you have friends to come along with you- then you take the universe’s offer and you bitch about your failed instincts later. Anyway, I wrote Tom the other day that I want to write about our trip and asked him for some memories. He wrote some good ones- I just had to copy paste them here.
Here are the things that a fairy and a hobbit realized and learned from a 9 day trip from Benedite, Portugal to Ville sous Anjou, France:
☻Tom: First thing that comes to mind is our night locked into that empty little shopping mall by the man who called his wife “that woman”, and you had to pee upstairs on a pile of carpets! This nice woman who owned a bar said we could sleep in that little sopping center (it’s very little by the way- like 5 stores) which was attached to her bar, ’cause outside we will probably freeze. True dat… We came back in the evening to go to sleep and the woman apparently finished her shift and now the husband was there. He did not like that idea but “that woman” already decided so…. he end up putting all the extra tables like a barricade. Either protecting us from the cold or hiding us so people won’t see the weird hobos. Surprisingly- it was a good night! except for the peeing part. The empty shopping center looked a like a horror movie. So dark and quiet and a big wooden wheel next to the carpets for no reason…
☻It’s hard to hitchhike in Portugal. It took us 4 days to hitchhike the distance of a 4 hour drive. Maybe 5. But that’s the thing about hitchhiking- it’s all part of the adventure. If you have a dead line- don’t hitchhike. Take the bus or whatever. Most of the time you will hitchhike in gas stations there. So get this: In Portuguese “No” is “Não” and it’s pronounced “Now”. Not too shocking I know, but when you hitchhike at night in an empty gas station (’cause nothing stops for hours) and a truck driver who is obviously in a hurry says “now now” (or is it “não não”??) it could be quite funny and confusing at the same time. I hesitated for a split second, then just ran back to Tom and our bags and said “come- we may or may not have a ride!” Happy ending there. It was “now” and we got a ride.
Although another time in a different gas station- a woman said so many times “now” to me- it was obvious that it was a big “não não” to go with her…… Ha!
☻Always have a friend with you when you travel. A swis wooden cow with her udder on her head is perfect. Bubalch was a good friend- we’ve been through a lot…
☻ Because we were 2 people hitchhiking, we noticed something weird in Portugal. So many of the cars didn’t have back seats. They had that “extra room” for storage. There was a grid inside to separate the front from the back (like a box will suddenly jump and attack them…safety first you know….) so we could see from far if we should even try and make the effort to stop that car. After a while it was really freaking annoying!! so many cars with no back seats- why do they need so much storage space?? and then we came up with the answer- obviously it’s for their porn collection!!! so then we at least had some entertainment- whenever we would see this car we would call “porn collectors!”
☻Tom: Being stuck on the motorway, and then I led you for miles on foot through some industrial estate until you threw a tantrum and said enough! Now you understand why I call him a hobbit….. But in general- never ever get dropped by a ride on a highway! There’s nothing good or smart about it!
☻”The yellow car game”- the game that you play when you’re bored! you know this one: Whoever sees a yellow car must hit his buddy before his buddy hits him. It’s all about spotting, speed and determination. It’s nice to play it when you’re way faster at spotting yellow cars than your buddy. Less nice when your buddy hits you much harder than you hit him (“ouch Tom that actually hurts!”). After a while you’ll start to argue about car shades- is it gold? pale orange?? light green??? and it’s only half yellow so it doesn’t count! if you play this game for more than 3 hours and no cars stops – I give you permission to cheat. And I highly recommend to play this in France. The post office cars are yellow there!!
☻Tom: The coooold hard nights, made easier for me by rampant alcohol consumption… In order to understand the cold (or just get some sympathy from you) I’ll just write this: Mountains in the north of Portugal. Wind that blows about 60 km/h all over Spain and south of France (one of those weeks I guess). Frost at night. I had a half decent coat and a “woolen” hat from a ‘Made in China’ store (stupid mistake I admit) and Tom had his red wine and a robe. Yes, to make a long story short- Tom earned a thick woolen lovely robe. That was his coat. And that’s how he hitchhiked- with a robe and a mustache. Good for me ’cause it was hilarious. Less good for us ’cause the other drivers didn’t really see the funny part…. Although he did got us some good rides!
☻Tom: You telling me to hide in the bushes while you got us a lift. “Just trust me, I´ve been doing this for years and I know whats best ok!” He did got us some good rides But I’ve got better ones 🙂
☻Tom: Meeting Nuno in Portugal! and the trucker who took us all across Spain, and you had to hide behind the curtains! It started when we had no choice but to take a bus inside a city in Portugal. In one of the stops another backpacker got on the bus. And that’s how we met Nuno- a Portuguese guy who’s goal was to hitchhike to Oslo by Christmas (and he did it!). We tried to hitchhike for 2 days and ended up in a parking lot for trucks, where Nuno got us a ride from heaven! Nuno left us near Valladolid (Spain) and we kept on riding with that truck almost until Barcelona. For me it was awesome ’cause I was behind the curtains (illegal to take more than one passenger) sleeping, listening to music and not having to try and speak to the driver (he doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Portuguese/Spanish….). And those trucks look like the freaking transformers! damn so many gadgets there it was crazy! so we got saved by the truck because instead of 3 days crossing Spain, it could have been a week (it’s also very hard to hitchhike in Spain).
There are more crazy stories from that journey, but I think that’s enough for now- I’m getting a bit cold just to think about them…..
So remember- Don’t take life too seriously ’cause life doesn’t take you seriously. Trust me- life called and said you’re bumming them out…. Love, Peace, Harmony and a Smile!