So far I have hitchhiked about 14.000km, which comes down to being 35% around the world.
I call it one of the best things in the world for many reasons: the sense of freedom, the beauty of the unexpected, the short-but-intimate meetings, the excitement of the unknown, and the feeling of being in harmony with yourself when standing beside a lonely road.
I usually stand beside the road with no sign, just my thumb. Or, to cite the Doors, “I stood by the side of the road, and levelled my thumb, in the calm calculus of reason”. Only on rare occasions did I see no other choice but to write a sign to make things clearer. Often, my hitchhiking adventures lead me through kilometres of forest, climbing under fences, through abandoned industrial areas, or walking for hours beside highways. All to find that perfect spot, to get to the next city or village, to my next adventure.
I wouldn’t have smoked hashish with an Israeli soldier who smuggled it through the Lebanese border.
I wouldn’t have gone swimming with my driver in a Moroccan pool.
I wouldn’t have slept in the desert without a tent or sleeping bag.
I wouldn’t have ridden kilometres on a snowmobile to a volcanic spring through a forest in Siberia in minus thirty degrees centigrade.
I wouldn’t have spent a week with a tribe in Sarawak.
I wouldn’t have visited Slovakia’s ghetto in Košice.
I wouldn’t have been invited to all those weddings in different cultures.
I wouldn’t have reached all those interesting and small places where I’d normally never go.
I wouldn’t have had all those dinners and drinks with my drivers, sometimes even at their home.
I wouldn’t have had all those interesting, hour-long conversations with everyone from truck drivers to young, drunk students;
from rich businessmen in sports cars to 9-5 workers in cars that barely ran.
I simply wouldn’t have a part of my life that I’m happy to have now.