What do I think about hitchhiking?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four months since my great hitchhiking adventure already. What’s harder to believe though, is that it took me so long to write this post. Seriously, I have one observation on my stay here in Portugal – it made me do everything in slow motion.

But, finally, here it comes.

I already mentioned in some posts on this blog that the last year made me do things I’d never think I would do. If anyone had asked me half of a year ago if Iwould hitchhike from one place to another, I would have said that maybe, but only with another person. As you know, I was always keen on travelling alone in general – spontaneously buying a ticket, couchsurfing, but hitchhiking? Come on. And then I went to Azores, where I only had two options if I wanted to get to all (or most) of the places I had planned – waiting for hours for a bus to come, or trying to catch a ride.

If you’d ask me: was hitchhiking alone on an island somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean a good idea? I would say…

No.

If you’d ask me: would you repeat that? I would say…

Yes, totally.

Now, you absolutely have a right to ask me, how come I say it wasn’t a good idea, yet I’d do it again?

Well, because unfortunately, hitchhiking is not really the safest way to travel. Especially when you’re alone. Especially when you’re a girl. And most especially, when you’re a lonely girl. Which I happened to be.

But – the world in general isn’t the safest place to be. I mean – a lot of bad things can happen. So I thought that if I would like to avoid all that danger that’s waiting there for me, I would just have to stay home. Which wouldn’t be that safe at all because there are a lot of things that can happen to you while you’re at home as well.

And making the decision of hitchhiking alone on São Miguel was the best one I could have made at that time. Thanks to it, I’ve met lots of people; some of them more sympathetic, some of them less; some younger, some older; some of them used to hitchhike themselves, some – gave me a ride because they were worried that otherwise something could happen to me. There aren’t only bad people trying to harm me in the world after all; there are also those who, although they didn’t know me, wanted to help me.

Yet, it all wasn’t that colourful. I told you already that at some point I was just crying somewhere in the middle of the forest. Why? Because one of the drivers told me I would catch a ride there easily, and there was no single car at all for hours. Then, suddenly, I saw a car coming – two ladies inside, one of them in her fifties, the other one older – perhaps her mother. Now imagine me – desperation on my face, a completely destroyed map in my hand, a backpack on my back. Did they stop? No. I knew that I only had a couple of hours left to catch the bus from the city; I knew that it was getting darker with every quarter of an hour, and I knew that it would rain during the night. And I knew that I wasn’t prepared for that, as I only had a small sleeping bag with me. At the moment the car with the women left I just burst in tears. Luckily, soon I managed to catch a ride – the driver, although I only asked him to get me to the closest town, only stopped at the front of my hostel – to make sure I’d be all safe when I get there.

So, here’s my point. I already fell in love with hitchhiking the moment I tried it. I will repeat it for sure, maybe when I go to another of Azores’ islands? But you have to – I mean I have to – know the limits. I knew that hitchhiking on São Miguel, especially on its Northern part, is common – and safe. But that doesn’t mean it will never change. For what I can tell you now, is that I still would be too scared to try hitchhiking alone here, “on the continent”. I’d rather do that with a friend.

But well, give me some time, and maybe someday you’ll be reading a post beginning with the words “the last year has shown me, that I can do things I’d never think I would do…”

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That’s probably the longest post that’s ever appeared here. Well, if you’re still here, reading the last words – have a good day. And if you’re catching a ride somewhere right now – good luck!

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Comments
5 Responses to “What do I think about hitchhiking?”
  1. Tim Shey says:

    In my experience, I would much rather hitchhike than ride a bus: it is faster and safer.

    “A Thumb and a Prayer”
    http://hitchhikeamerica.wordpress.com/a-thumb-and-a-prayer/

  2. If you ever hitchhike your way to Alaska, look me up!

  3. It’s a balancing act, right? Seeing the world you way you want to see it, while keeping as safe as you can? I guess at some point you have to trust yourself to be smart and trust humanity to not harm you. Whatever you do, keep taking your camera with you. :)

    All the best in your future travels, hitchhiked or otherwise.

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