A Hundred Highways

 

I can see the setting sun hiding behind a cloud as I look out my window, cruising along in a big white van, pushing 170ks an hour. Im lying in the back on a mattress, dreamily watching spain flash by, listening to music and reminding myself of the last few weeks.  A few hours ago the three of us, Mandy, Lily (the other one) and I, were standing on a Portugese highway, thumbs in the air, rain falling hard. Apart from the freedom, the budget, the people and the stories

, what I love most about hitching is the sudden shift in emotions. One minute you can be reaching desperation, questioning humanity, and weighing up other options, the next, you’ve got a ride, they’re going exactly where you are, and you cant keep the smile from your face. 

 

The last couple of weeks have been a ride and a half. The 8th of August 2008 arrived, and I trecked my way over to the Eiffel Tower. Greeting me there were 160 other hitchhikers, from at least that many countries, all friends within a few hours. A weekend of beer, laughs and road rambles followed… sleeping night after night under the big metal sculpture, waking each morning to a head full of happiness. Workshops on treeclimbing, stovemaking, juggling, squatting, and of course, hitchhiking, were ubiquitous, and the sharing of knowledge and stories went well into the night. I cuddled under a big oak tree, played frizbee on the grass, had a few flute jams, and even spun a bit of poi. All this, in the city of love, and under the international symbol of Paris. 

 

Boom in Portugal was my next ‘plan’ and destination, so by monday morning I was crossing France again, this time with my new hitching buddy Derik, from Canada. Rides came quickly and freely, and as usual amazing hospitality marked each day, memories never to be forgotten. Few nights were spent alone, most were in the laughter and company of complete strangers homes, beers, food and bed provided. 

 

Meeting Lily on the border of France and Spain, we crossed another country in just over a day. By 9pm we were outside the entry gate of Boom Festival, and reunited with Mandy. The next night was spent with very little sleep, freezing cold, hungry and exhausted, aimlessly waiting for our volunteer organiser. Our names were supposed to be in the computer, but, not surprisingly, werent’t, and so our only hope of getting in was to contact an uncontactable Hamish, on the inside. Hours came and went, the night fell and the sun began to rise. Finally at 6am, the checkpoint staff took pity on us, and gave us 3 free wrist band. Still no word from the crew on the inside, but we certainly werent going to be doing any work by now anyway. About 7 hours later, the three of us heaved up our backpacks, and trecked out again, bone weary, and blurry eyed. Boom, apparently a festival of performance art, installations, sustainable workshops and all the rest, turned out to be nothing more than a giant doof, drunk and drugged ravers only. 

 

Anyway, got a ride out of there quicksmart, an amazing Portugese guy who went out of his way to drop us in a cute little village almost an hour from the festival. The next 3 days were spent sleeping and eating, for no more than 10euro a day, resting like royalty and very happy with our decisions. Grounded and recouporated we set off today back towards Spain. Our first ride was going all the way to Switzerland, and hence, here I am, speeding through Spain, on my way to San Sebastien. 

 

Life on the road has continued to be eventful, challenging and inpsiring, and I’m spending half of my initiial daily budget, living on less than 10 euro a day. Friends are with me, the smile on my face wont seem to fade, and Europe is looking more and more beautiful each day.

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