From a young age we are all taught to fear strangers. You grow up being told “don’t talk to strangers”. But isn’t it odd that we are all in fact strangers? Until we meet, speak, or extend a hand? So unless you want to be a hermit all your life you must talk to strangers. …do you like my logic? 🙂
I also grew up being told “don’t ever get into a car with a stranger” and this, I won’t argue, is probably a good rule…most of the time. But I’d like to switch it up a little and say “don’t ever get into a car with a creepy, I’m not diggin’ the vibe, listen to my body type of stranger”.
So on my checklist for the crazy adventure that I am on…and pretty close to the top, was “hitchhiking”. Well I finally got to cross it off the list while visiting the beautiful country of Croatia. I had a lot of “firsts” in Croatia; dumpster diving, hitchhiking, roughin it in the woods, and days without a shower or shaving. You might say it’s where I found the “hippie” within me.
Before you freak out to much though, I haven’t hitchhiked alone…yet. I have always had a guy with me, as I am not quite comfortable doing it alone just yet. But my experiences have been more than great all eight times we have been picked up.
We’ve gotten rides from: five males (two of which spoke zero English), two married couples and one woman.
•There were two times we were picked up my men who spoke zero English, it was a quiet ride both times but enjoyable none the less. The fact that they picked us up even though we could not communicate is still amazing to me.
•There was Luca who was a computer programer who enjoys picking up hitchhikers for the conversation and wild travel stories. He and Wes had a lot of geeky computer stuff to talk about that was way over my head.
•There was the guy who’s name I cannot pronounce or spell, who owned a seasonal restaurant on one of the Croatian islands. His restaurant allowed him to work during the five busy months and do whatever else he and his wife want to during the other seven months of the year, including travel. He was on his was to the restaurant in preparation for his friends wedding that was being held there the following day. He also enjoys picking up hitchhikers to pass the commute time and hear travel stories. He was a very honest man who had my camera shipped to me when it fell out of my bag and was left in his car.
•And Carlo, he was great! Turns out he also has walked the Camino de Santiago, IN THE WINTER, with his girlfriend, so we had a LOT to talk about. I really enjoyed the ride and reminiscing with another peregrino. He just kept saying he wished he were able to take us all the way to our destination because he was really enjoying our company. He also enjoyed picking up hitchhikers for company and travel stories.
•Myah who is married and has a little three year old girl, was on her way home from her first weekend without her daughter since she was born. She spent it painting her brothers new house. She and her husband have a guest house that they rent out to tourist during the busy season. She likes picking up hitchhikers for adult conversations and travel stories.
•Then there was the Swiss/Croatian married couple who just moved back to Croatia from Switzerland. We talked about beautiful Switzerland and corruption in Croatia and why they decided to move. They enjoyed picking up hitchhikers for the conversation and travel stories.
•And then there was Darin and Elaine, the Mexican/Canadian couple who sat with the brakes on trying to decide if we were safe to puck up. They too were travelers and we were their first hitchhikers. Turns out we had a lot in common as far as views on health, nutrition and travel, so there was no shortage of conversation. Darin is a cancer survivor and is writing a book, the book he wished was out there when he was fighting his battle. I felt very honored when he asked if he could write about my families unique cancer story. They too are traveling longterm so we had a lot of travel stories to share. We exchanged contact information and have been keeping in touch every since.
All in all we got a lot of laughs, waves, honks and thumbs up with our big thumb sign and a lot of “sorry my car is full” or “I’m going the other way” responses. We passed the time between rides singing to our music, enjoying the views and telling stories…even in the rain.
To sum it all up this is what I learned about hitchhiking.
•People who stop to pick up hitchhikers are just as leery of you as you are of them.
•They are stopping to pick you up out of the goodness of there heart, not because they are creepy ax murderers…well not usually (I PRAY!).
•Usually they just want someone to have a conversation with during a long ride.
•Or they too have been a hitchhiker and are paying it forward.
•Trust your gut, if it does not feel right wait for the next ride. Just because someone stops doesn’t mean you have to get in. Remember: listen to your body, I have found it will always tell you the truth.
•Hitchhiking is a great way to travel, save cash, meet locals and have a lot of good conversation.
•A very important thing to remember when hitchhiking, people will only stop to pick you up if you act like you want to be picked up. Smile. Wave. Do not play on your phone.
Hitchhiking was such a freeing feeling for me. I felt like a true hippie, standing on the side of the road singing and enjoying the view, and I loved it! It didn’t matter what time it was or how long it took us to get there…because we were free! ….and if we didn’t get there by nightfall we would just wild camp off the side of the road (which did happen the first night).