Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
332Trip End Ongoing
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Boarding the train with all my gear and a large 'India' sign and I'm attracting some strange looks. Then I get a moment of total panic the fear grips and I wonder what in gods name I'm doing. It lurches through me like the feeling you've left the gas on. This is madness. Insanity. I need my head examined. I'm freaking out at the prospect of standing by a roadside with a sign while enduring drivers disgusted glares and shakes of heads. Putting myself on show to a lot of misunderstanding business men who have no idea what it feels like to be free. Hanging my balls out there. The more I mull it over in my head and heart, the more my spirit lifts, and the desire not to fail takes over. I shall do this, and I'll do it with a conviction and passion not seen since Jack Kerouac first put pen to paper. At least that's what I was imagining.
I've been using a wonderful resource called 'hitchwiki.org', which basically gives you information for every country in where to position yourself to stand the best chance of hitching a lift. It also allows contributions from fellow hitchers, so you can keep up to date with the current climate. It's a powerful tool indeed, and one that I will find invaluable in my quest. I've also decided to become a contributor, as I think my experiences will be pretty useful for others over the coming months. Anyway it's told me about this stretch of road out on some highway, so this is where I'm heading, and where I find myself, next to three others going my way. Competition is tough on the road. My sign is better though.
I move a few feet up to where I know there is a better spot, where I can get the cars coming out of two garages and the Burger King. I'm joined a short time later by a Romanian guy going to Poland, so as we're not conflicting it's OK to stand at the same spot. I'm not actually sure of the etiquette when it comes to hitchhiking with people going the same way. It might put drivers off having to make the choice between, say, me and a couple. Or two guys going to the same place but not with each other. It's not long before I find out exactly what that feels like.
A guy is stopping! He's pulling in! The hitchhikers joy of the little flashing amber indicator! I open the door smiling and he points roughly at the other dude. Words cannot express my devastation. It's like I failed an audition. The girl I love isn't interested. I've burnt the lasagna. Off he spins with a stumbled apology leaving me alone once again. I guess I should get used to this.
People are laughing and chuckling at my 'India' sign, but nobody is stopping. I've shown it to a pretty girl on a bike and get a smile to keep my morale up, but I start to contemplate other options. I have no patience at the best of times, so how the hell am I going to accomplish this? Also the amount of drivers clearly going to Dresden is obscene. BMW after Mercedes, after Audi, all with one suited driver, all with a stern "I'm not looking at the hitching guy" glare. These tossers are obviously going long distance, gas guzzling the miles up with their massive cars and no other passengers. I weep for the ozone layer.
Then it happens. The flashing orange light again. I look around. There is nobody else near me. I point to myself and nod 'me?' 'Yes' a smiling nod returned from the enthusiastic couple in the Volvo estate. I throw my arms up with glee and bundle my gear into the large boot. My first ride, and going all the way to Dresden. I'd been waiting for only half an hour.
My saviours are a young family from somewhere near the border between Germany, Poland the the Czech Republic. They don't speak very much English, but it's enough to see us through and get by with polite chat. "The blower not verk" motions Hengle, the driver, smiling into the rear view mirror and indicating the air conditioning. "Dis car ist hold" he chuckles. "Yes my Dad had one of these many years ago" I exclaim, then realise my error in that I might have offended him and now my Dad drives a Ferrari. I manage to explain the passing of my parents, via the help of Hubert, their 13 year old son sitting in the back. Curiously enough, he's holding a box with a tiny baby chick of some description, cheeping away at his fingers with gusto. They don't know what it's called in English, and I don't know the German word they name it, but eventually we manage to figure out that it's a Dove. You don't know how just much that brought a smile to my face.