Hitchhiking

Tripoto

Hitchhiking is my favorite way of getting around. Maybe after you read this article, this too may become an option in your selection of transportation.

1978

Lesley, a girl I was living with at the school and I drove to Seattle in my old pick up truck, where we bought our supplies for the trip at REI. With two new large backpacks filled with everything we needed for the trip, we drove to Cabool Missouri and camped out on 15 acres in our new tent for the summer We sold the pickup and hitched to New York City, because they had the cheapest flights to Luxembourg. Although we had many experiences during these two years, I will only relate our hitchhiking experiences, because otherwise this would turn into a book. Lesley asked me if I spoke any other languages and I told her a little Spanish. She said she spoke a little French so we should get by pretty well. As it turned out, her French was excellent, and my Spanish was poor to useless. We started to hitchhike in France to Spain. In Spain, we were picked up by a van with a dentist and his girlfriend. They said they were going to Morocco, and we were welcomed to go with them. I never thought of going to Morocco but why not. They seemed like a nice enough couple until we were in Morocco for a few days and the dentist began drinking a lot. When he was drunk, he was so obnoxious. He would begin criticizing Lesley and me about our taking advantage of people like him and not paying our fair share. I agreed with him, but told him that we offered to help them pay for our share of the food but he refused. The next time he went shopping we said we’d pay for half of the food. Our only problem with this was he would not bargain and would pay at least double for his purchases. We brought this up with the girlfriend, who seemed to like both of us, and she suggested that we pay anything he wanted and she would pay us back. We slept in our tent outside while they slept in the van. We parted company with them in Fez. What an amazing city! Two weeks later we hitched to Zagora at the northern edge of the Sahara desert. We stayed there for a long time because everywhere else was too cold. We thought of going to Timbuktu just to say we did it but in the end crossed it off our list. On our way out of Morocco, we hitched to small place near the border of Algeria and ran into an Arab festival. It looked like we were transported back to the 18th century with Arabs on horses or camels, in full 18th century costumes. The Arabs invited us into their massive tents for food and drink. They were fascinated by our tiny tent and asked many questions about our life style. Lesley & I were now thinking of going back to Spain and to head East through Europe and on to Asia. We got a ride from a young couple who were going to Italy via Algeria to Tunisia, and a ferry to Sicily, Italy. They asked us to help with the gas and repairs for the car. We agreed. Up to this point we were doing well on $8 per day for the two of us but the gas, break-downs, used tires, and general maintenance nearly doubled our expenses. I would have left them once we arrived in Sicily but they were such a wonderful couple. In Sicily, we picked up a nurse who was hitching. She invited us to dinner at a recommended restaurant by a patient. She had a note from this patient, who happened to be a princess, stating that this nurse was to be provided with a meal for her and friends. We arrived late at the restaurant. The restaurant owner seemed to rush his current customers out of the restaurant and closed it soon after our arrival. He introduced us to the salad bar and suggested that we take very little. We just thought he was being cheap but as the meal went on we could see why he only wanted us to take small portions because there were so many delicate wonderful dishes that followed. The wine and drinks were nonstop. I was quite high a few hours later and could see that the owner and the waiters were trying to make out with the ladies. We left the restaurant quite satiated and felt that a good time was had by all. We went up through Italy, down through Yugoslavia to Greece. In Greece, we parted company, and stayed in that country for a few weeks. Our next stop was Turkey. We decided to cut down on our load by selling our tent, and Lesley’s heavy-duty boots. Leslie was not too happy with selling the boots. My thinking at this point was that Asia was much cheaper than Europe, and it was getting warmer. This was a mistake. Western Turkey was even more expensive than Greece. In Istanbul we spent our first night on a roof top. The next night, we stayed at a campsite outside of Istanbul and met a lovely couple of Turks, who insisted on paying for our campsite where we rented a tent,and give us a ride the next day. We then got picked up by a Turk, who told us that we were welcomed to stay at his place. When we got to his home, he said he didn’t have room in his house for us, but we were welcome to stay at his beach cottage. What an abode this was! It was a room, mounted on a large truck axle about two meters above the ground. The room itself was glass on all sides. In the middle of the room was a large round table that was used to turn the room around in any direction. I still have dreams today of duplicating that structure. Unfortunately, the owner was a pain in the ass. Daily, he would take us to his relatives and friends to show off his new found foreigners. We only stayed a couple days. Western Turkey was a wonderful place for hitchhiking, because almost everyone was willing to pick you up. When we got to Eastern Turkey, the situation changed drastically. Our first ride in Eastern Turkey was in the back of a pickup where the driver asked us for a small fee. This was a usual thing that happened throughout Eastern Turkey. Iran wasn’t much better. There we got our first taste of prejudice concerning Western women. In a train station in Tehran, a Muslim man reached over the banister and grabbed Lesley’s breasts. I took after the man and grabbed him on the steps. A policeman was on the scene immediately and asked me what happened in English. I told him what happened and he just slapped the man and told him to get out of there. Our next ride was from some German boys in a van and they took us into Afghanistan. The Germans wanted to go into the mountains, but we heard some very disturbing news of foreigners disappearing in those mountains. We decided to go on our own. We bused from Heart and Kandahar, to Kabul, Afghanistan. I loved the Afghan people. They are such a proud people and tend to look you right in the eye. We left Afghanistan, a few weeks before the Russian invasion. We again bused through Pakistan in 3 days. Lesley’s ankles swelled up so badly that she could hardly walk. We missed hitchhiking. We decided to spend a lot of time in India. Transportation was so cheap in India that we decided not to hitchhike anymore. I got hepatitis in India and had to stay a month to recuperate.We did a little more hitchhiking in Sri Lanka. Our trip ended in Thailand and we flew back to America.

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