May 27th- June 5th: The road from CZ to France
Oh the wind whistles down… The cold dark street tonight
And the people they were dancing to the music vibe
And you’re singing the songs, Thinking this is the life
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go? Where you gonna sleep tonight?
Wednesday, May 27th, wake up early, feeling like I want to vomit and can’t quite breathe, at the thought of leaving my home and walking into the unknown. Hear via Facebook, it’s time to sell all my furniture. Troy and Andréa are moving out of our house July 2nd. It doesn’t rain, but it pours. Anyone wanting a dining table, couches, TV? Give Kim a haircut; say some goodbyes, followed by some more goodbyes. They don’t feel quite real, cos I didn’t know where I’m going or when I must leave. I start crying, same as when I left Australia, thinking, I don’t want to go! I don’t wanna go.
Kay (from Australia) is in Pau, France. I decide to make my way across to see her. Why not? Ellen is my travel advisor, while I lay on the ground looking for clarity, possibly for the last time. Take the bus from near our beloved Tesco, out of town. Walk through a paddock with a beautiful afternoon sun, where I have to pee. On a path by the river, ask some disbelieving Czechs for directions to the highway. Realise I could have gotten the bus to Ikea. Being starving, I eat at the last restaurant before the Highway. Have chicken and veges, get talking to the staff.
Cute guy, funny lady, end up giving them Aussie souvenirs and in return, free chicken, tomatoes and a capsicum, as well as a huge ass bottle of water. Dusk, and not even out of Brno yet. Walk to onramp, stick out my thumb, he’s going to Bratislava, off we go.
Arrive in Bratislava; he drops me at the main station. 9.40pm, think about getting the train to Vienna. Am not sure why I hitched to Bratislava and not Vienna straight up. There are strange women dragging their children through the station in the middle of the night. I consult Lonely Planet, Europe on a Shoestring, for the first of many many times, and decide to stay at Downtown Backpackers. Get hopelessly lost and wander around a deserted Bratislava. With the help of a lovely man, I find it, secure a bed, update my Facebook status, shower and sleep.
Wake up with bruised hips from my backpack. Find a camping store where they adjust it so it doesn’t hurt anymore. Panic when I realise I am missing my wallet, return to the youth hostel and they have it behind the desk. Phew. Eat spinach salad and chicken soup and head off in search of some ‘A touch of sea salt’, Lindt Dark Chocolate. I find a Lindt store but it is shut. I settle on Rhubarb gourmet chocolate. Get photocopies of credit card and passport, and then get on a bus, going in the wrong direction. Get off, cross the road, and go back in the right direction, out of town to the highway. Walk around examining the roads, find the right spot, stick out my thumb. It takes a while, a guy finally stops, and he is going 1100 km to visit his daughter in Holland. There is a hole in the sky with sunlight streaming through, looks like god to me. I take pictures out the window as we drive and get out 200km later at Linz, Austria. Eat a very expensive dinner (forty bucks) at the truck stop and hitch again. Talk Czech to Eddie as we listen to Whitney Housten, he drops me at Volabruck. It’s dark; I get the train to Salzburg. Sit outside the station and talk about life to my dad for a while. Get directions from a lovely man who walks with me for a while. Cross the river and the view is gorgeous. It is windy in the rain and I wonder, is this the same river as in Budapest? I grab a cab and ask for Naturfreudenhous, friends of nature, the youth hostel. He drives me up a long winding road- I am glad I didn’t try and walk it. The front looks dark and deserted. I ring the bell; tell the cab to go, after getting his number just in case. When no one answers the door, I try and call them, my mobile doesn’t work. I wonder if it was the right decision to send the cab on his way. The view if amazing. Finally a man comes to the door in his pyjama pants, thankfully he tells me I can sleep and check in in the morning. I shower, realising I left my towel in Bratislava, so I dry myself with a pillowcase stealthily adopted from a cupboard, and sleep.
Looking across old town in Salzburg at the monastery
Wake up to another Aussie arriving in my room! Go and eat some complimentary breakfast in the sun/rain/sun overlooking old town. Go back to sleep until 130! Monika and I walk down the hill to find a net café in pouring rain. I spend a few hours there looking at maps and checking email and then realise, now I won’t have time to visit the monastery 😦
Get the bus in the wrong direction again. Nice blue-eyed guy helps me get it back in the right direction. Make it to the main station and go in search of a toilet. Find my way to the right bus and realise I don’t have my wallet. Run back to the toilet and it isn’t there. Go to tourist information and she tells me someone has been asking about it. Run to lost property and it is closed. Asks the station staff and no one speaks English. Want to cry. Finally find the right office and a man hands me my wallet, with a post it of the person who handed it in. Thank god. I feel on top of the world, so happy that the world has good people in it. I bounce my way onto the bus. Grin at a guy who then gives me the advice to go to Fairrestrasse to hitch to Innsbruck. I get there, find a bus stop, hold up my sign, and it begins to rain, again. Cars are stopping but they are all headed back to Salzburg.
I walk further along the road but there is nowhere to stand. Make my way back to the service station; buy some corn chips and salsa and collapse. Start talking to the staff and regulars, they tell me I am on the wrong road for Innsbruck. I get them to write my request in German. A man offers to drive me to a service station on the autobahn where I can hitch. We go. It is now dark and raining, I try standing in the rain in a poncho with my thumb out for a while and decide not to do that anymore. I linger around the petrol station. The people have full cars, or aren’t going to Innsbruck, it is a national holiday, and they are mistrustful at night. The truck drivers are sleeping and I don’t feel comfortable going with them at night anyway. I ask for hot water to make soup and the cranky bitch tells me it will be 2 euros. I don’t get it. I buy licorice and sit and plait it.
Decide to sleep in the restaurant at the petrol station, Angry lady tells me I can’t, that I must leave. I look at her like, WTF lady, where the fuck do you expect me to go??
A woman tells me she lives nearby and that I can sleep at her house. We are right near the German border and drive across it to a tiny town called Anger (go figure). Her husband meets us at the door and takes my things. They show me upstairs to a double bed with fluffy covers, wooden floorboards, and heavy white shower robes. We eat meat and bread, drink wine and I sleep.
Awesome big double bed all to myself!! ‘Anger’ German Austrian border
Next morning I meet their children, breakfast is spread on the table waiting for me. The view across paddocks to the Salzburg castle is awesome and I hang out with the kids on the swing and hammock in the yard. I start learning German.
We walk in the forest, see some horses and a tiny church and eat lunch. Go and see a castle and shop at Aldi, with the Alps as a backdrop. We watch a movie in German. Lisa massages my calves, which are killing from all this walking. Her husband enters and she takes off her top. In front of the fire with wine, he places his hand on my head and cools my thoughts. Lisa kisses me. He leaves the room and she tells me she must follow.
In the morning, she wakes me in a robe and says, come to us. In bed she is naked, and she moves my hands to touch her. He is up and leaving the room again.
Next day, have a BBQ lunch. He is silent, withdrawn and angry. I am impatient to leave. They want and expect me to stay. It is beautiful but I must be going. I write Lisa a letter that she must do what she wants without guilt. He enters with the children- they are going for ice-cream. The children are odd and formal.
Lisa drives me to Freilassing. On the way to the station, Lisa holds her rough hand in mine. She is crying. She tells me they were couple swinging, and then they decided if they were doing that, she may as well do it for money. (He is a Taurus! It makes sense now). She wanted this to be something beautiful for them to share. She wanted Me to be something to share with him.
I kissed a prostitute.
We hug and say goodbye. I get the train to Rosenheim. I am relieved to be going, and disbelieving of what just happened. I stand outside the train station staring at a map, wondering where the autobahn is. A man comes up to me and tells me how to get there, without me having to ask. I love people.
I walk, quite a way with my heavy ass backpack, til I come to a servo. Use the toilet, and then ask the boys who work there for directions, even though I don’t need them, mainly just because one of them is cute.
Walk along the road. After muttering to myself in a rather amusing way, I turn around and stick out my thumb in front of the McDonalds. A woman overhears me and fetches her husband who speaks English. He takes my pack for me, insisting it is nowhere near as heavy as an army pack, and we walk. I tell them where I have been and where I am going. They take a liking to me and decide to drive me a service station where it will be easy for me to hitch. The man makes me a sign of A, for Austria. He tells me how to distinguish the nationality of a car from the number plate. We drive across the border, exchange email addresses and say goodbye.
Stick my thumb out. Every time, it makes me laugh cos part of me can’t believe what I am doing. Quickly a truck picks me up and we drive to Innsbruck, Austria. The sun sets as we drive through the Alps, it is beautiful, I take pictures. He drops me at the station outside town, he will drive on through. I go into the Rosenberger restaurant, start talking to the staff.
I am exhausted and amuse them when I start hysterically giggling. When I ask for hot water, and tell them how bitchy the people were in Germany, they give me free goulash.
A fellow traveller who has just flown in from, Asia? He sits and talks to me of travel. It is late now; closing time, and they give me 3 sandwiches and a container of pastries. It makes me so happy; I don’t bother telling them I am allergic to milk. Although one of the staff offered to walk with me and carry my pack into town- (what is with men wanting to carry my baggage for me?) Oscar drives me to the youth hostel. A bed for 20 euro. I ask some young guys about the Internet and they randomly pay for me to use it. Find a brochure for the ski fields. Go to shower and feel uncomfortable, there is no lock on the door and teenage footballers are running rampart around the hostel. I get out and dry myself- look up and one of them is grinning at me through the window. I tell him to fuck off and cover myself. Stand there and wait, give the 2nd and 3rd guys to stare over the ledge at me the finger. I show the guy who runs the hostel who it was, but seriously, what is he going to do? The young guy says to me ‘onshooligong’, I tell him he should have some fucking respect, he can’t understand cos he speaks German. I walk away without slapping him. Sleep.
Wake up, repack my backpack, and check out. Get the bus to the main station, and find the bus that goes to Stubai. This is why I am here; I came via Innsbruck- which is the long way- because here they have a glacier in the Alps where you can snowboard all year round! The bus takes 8 euros and an hour and half. I am the only one to stay on the bus through all the tiny towns in the mountains. On the way I see some skydivers, arrive and the place seems deserted. I wonder if there actually is snow still. Wait until one o’clock when it is slightly cheaper, and buy myself a pass for 21euros. Get on the cable car up the hill and wonder, yet again, if perhaps I am a little insane. Get another cable car and find the rental store. Get myself boots and a snowboard, ask for a pretty one. I pester the woman for tips on how to snowboard as she adjusts the board. I rent a jacket and gloves but decide against getting a helmet and pants, cost extra.
Yes, I wore my jeans snowboarding. Leave my pack with the staff. Trek through the snow (so tiring!) to one of the chair lifts. Have no idea how to use it. Manage to sit my ass down, with a girl. She tells me that visibility is really shitty and that perhaps a beginner with no goggles, skill or helmet should not do it. Get to the top of the hill and she skis off. I start hysterically giggling and saying ‘Fuck!’. Look over and two snowboarders are sitting and watching me amusedly. I tell them, I can’t snowboard, I am afraid of snow-covered hills! They suggest I get back on the chair lift. But I am here, so I will go down. The guy is a snowboard instructor and gives me some tips. A screw is missing from one of the show fittings and he manages to tie it together for me, awesome! I take a deep breath, struggle to stand up, and snowboard down the hill.
It seems to take forever to get down. I can’t decide which foot forward I am. I go left and right and left again. I plonk back down on my bum from braking too much- without any speed, I sit down, and then struggle to stand back up. Three quarters of the way down the hill I realise it is much much much easier to stand up if I turn and face up the hill, hallelujah. I also realise that insisting on snowboarding slowly takes much more effort then going quickly, makes feet hurt from braking so much. I am so thirsty I sit and eat snow. It is true, learning to snowboard on beginner tracks is harder- I do my first 2 face plants. Make it to the bottom by 3 o’clock. I am trembling and hungry and need a hug. My ass is freezing and wet. I stick it under the hand drier in the toilet and apologise to the lady who stares at me. I change clothes and give the staff some of my pastries. Some guys offer to drive me back to Innsbruck. We ride the cable car, one of their names is Glen, and it’s his birthday. I sing to him. As we walk through the car park, I see the chic and guy who helped me out on the hill and go to thank them, give them pastries and exchange emails. I turn around and the guys who offered me a ride have disappeared. The bus isn’t going for an hour and its expensive, so I stand in the empty car park and stick out my thumb to the people leaving the ski field. They laugh and wave to me, and then a guy stops. He is the manager of the restaurant and offers me a job, gives me his email address, tells me to come and work here whenever I want, an apartment and snowboard all day. I say I will think about it: he drops me at a bustop. I get the bus to the autobahn and get out at a servo. Consult a map. First guy I ask gives me a ride. His female companion quizzes me as we drive, aren’t you scared? I tell her, I am afraid of snow covered hills, I am afraid of rejection, I am afraid of what people think of me when they see me hitching, but no, it does not scare me. I think but do not say, I am protected. They go out of their way to drop me back at the Innsbruck truck stop. Inside, say hi again to the staff, get some delicious food cos I am starving (they make it free!) say goodbye and stick out my thumb.
An old, watery-eyed guy is the next to pick me up and he tries to hold my hand. I tell him, no, and I get out at the next service station. My faith was shaken and I am echoing Lisa. Was he really a threat or was he just a sad old lonely man? He drops me off and there is a rainbow above the hills.
The sun begins to set and I am in a hurry for a ride. It takes maybe 20 minutes, and then two guys in a campervan eating ice-creams pick me up. I cram my pack in the back and we drive through the mountains (rather then the tunnel, the view is pretty). He is changing back gears up the hill and I am laughing. They are hang gliders who have been competing. The driver starts to talk politics, about the Muslim population in Austria, how they will outnumber the Austrians shortly, how they are trying to bring their laws about women to Austria, how it is a problem that has to be controlled. I watch him, fascinated, and he asks if I am asleep. I tell him, weighing my words, that it is difficult to separate the history from the history maker. I ask him if he is afraid. I ask him, what if he was born in a country with no food? Why is he more entitled to live in prosperity than someone in Africa? Is it just luck where one is born, why does he feel a sense of ownership? Is it the fault of the people living in Third World countries that they are starving or is the West keeping them in oppression by exploiting their resources?
We arrive in Lichtenstein at 10pm. The guys go out of their way to drop me at a bus station.
I get a bus close to the youth hostel. Get out and make a movie of the deserted sleeping small town/weird country. Dad calls. I wander around, lost and exhausted, back and forth. Finally find the youth hostel by 1130. Reception is closed. I go around the back and ring the bell. Black cats keep crossing my path and it is freaking me out. The woman answers the door, I have woken her, she tells me she doesn’t feel well, so won’t check me in- that the closest youth hostel is in Fiedkirch (Austria!), and shuts the door. She doesn’t even offer me a blanket. My thermals are still wet from snowboarding; I change and layer my clothes. I don’t have a sleeping bag but consider sleeping on the bench outside the youth hostel anyway. I feel so fucking unwelcome! Decide to leave.
Walk back to the bus stop, the buses have stopped running, it is past midnight. Don’t know the number for the cabs and realise the lonely planet doesn’t include them in their country listings, WTF mate? Ask a guy, (coincidentally the same guy I asked for directions 2 hours ago in a different place) he gets me a cab. Drive to the cheaper hotels, they are all closed. The taxi driver, Sergio, finally communicates to me, in German, that I can sleep at his house, across the border in Switzerland. I feel uneasy, as he mentions he doesn’t have a wife, but am so fucking tired I go. Without further ado, I sleep on the couch without changing my clothes. He asks me to remove my hat, he is curious; I refuse and sleep in it. In the morning he is grumpy and says he couldn’t sleep, that I snored?? Doubt that. He takes me to an ATM; I pay him 25 Swiss francs for the driving, say goodbye at Bad Regaz train station. There is no Internet cafe; I get the train to Saargans, and head to the tourist information centre. The computer is sooooo slow, I give up and tell the lady it is shitty, she lets me use it for free. I ask her for a map and where the highway to Southern France is. I tell her I am from Australia and I am hitchhiking. Oh, how peoples eyes widens when I tell them these details. She shows me where to walk. I am hungry, the restaurants are closed, and there is no bus for two hours. I buy corn chips and salsa. I look but still cant find any ‘touch of sea salt’ Lindt chocolate 😦 Keep walking until I find the highway. Stand by the roundabout and ask a guy on a bike if there is anywhere to stand further towards the onramp. He is cheerful and says there is. I walk across the bridge and stick out my thumb.
I get a ride a few towns in a nice car. Stick out my thumb, another ride for a few towns in another nice car. A nice old lady stops but she is not going far, so I refuse. Get dropped at a service station outside Zurich. I take off my pack and sit on a carton of cans. I am really starting to feel at home in service stations!! I consult a map. Start talking to the lady who works there, she is friendly. First guy I ask is driving into Zurich city centre. I go with him in his truck. He is a crazy noisy Yugoslavian. I like him. We go to the depot to unload his ‘Planzer’ truck. I walk around asking if any of the trucks are going to France the next day, no one can speak English and I wonder if they think I am a prostitute. Finally he is finished and he drives me into town to the Hauptbahof- ‘main station’ in German, which apparently is not only the main language of Austria but Switzerland too!! Who knew.
I get an ice-cream (dairy free, Yossi!)
and make my way to the youth hostel, fantasising about collapsing into a bed. My bag is still heavy. Every time a car stops for me, I throw it over my head and run. I am hoping that carrying it around, with all this walking, is going to be excellent for my stomach muscles and core body strength, plus waiting in the sun should give me a tan, maybe I will come home all buff? Time will tell. Anyway. I arrive at the youth hostel and there is a sign on the door ‘sorry we are full’. I sink to the ground and sit and stare at it. Daaaaamn it. I go in anyway, the guy at the desk calls the other youth hostel, they are full, and apparently now summer is coming I need to start booking ahead. I walk around looking for a cheap hotel, the single rooms are full. I go to buy some poppy seed cake from a vegan place but I don’t have my credit card. I return to the youth hostel, use the Internet to message some people on Couchsurfing. To my surprise and delight, a dude replies that I can sleep at his house, with directions on how to get there. I watch the sun set over the river,
Gay pride flag on the Zurich River. GORGEOUS sunset
Which is crystal clear green with water from the mountains. I grin. Get some takeaway Chinese and make my way to his house by 1030. He doesn’t really like Australians but is polite, we chat. He doubts my ability to use the washing machine and goes to bed. I put on washing, have a bath (I cant figure out how to change the nozzle from bath to shower) and repack my backpack. Get up at 7 with Christian because he is going to work.
In town, get the 9am train. Arrive in Burn. Head to an Internet pub that Lonely Planet recommends. It is ridiculously expensive, 1 Swiss franc ($1AUD) per 6 minutes, but I use it for an hour and a half anyway. Go to a pub and get a burger cos I am starving. Cry for a little while. The people are friendly and ask about my travel. They recommend the bus 13 out of town to the autobahn. I study a map at the florist and get the bus, but I can’t find the onramp. Walk up and down from a while asking people where to go. Go into a supermarket and look for some Sea Salt chocolate, there’s none. Start walking out of town, it is very sunny. Ask a guy how far it is, he says, maybe a mile, but sorry he is going the other way. I start walking with my thumb out. A minute later he pulls up and says he will drive me. He has a car full of eggs; we stop along the way to deliver them to people with pamphlets. Make it to the autobahn. A Yugoslavian man with two Swiss sons stops and gives me a ride for a while, none of them speak English. Then a black guy, then a nice girl called Ellen who drops me at the Genève airport, telling me to take the number 10 bus. We drive through Vevey and Bulle, and at some point along the way the planes crisscrossing the sky draw a giant A. I get the bus into town, head to an ATM then Al-Amir, the kebab shop Lonely Planet recommends.
Beautiful clear river coming from lake Genève
I am at the bottom of Switzerland before France, and here, everyone speaks French. I feel really alone, tired and sad. I miss Ariel. Everyone smells excellent, and some people smell like him. The women are beautiful, and I remember him making me feel beautiful. I dump my pack, order a kebab, and sit outside the shop and cry. The kebab man asks what is wrong, tells me to talk to him. I tell him that I had a friend from France who died. He seems uncomfortable, tells me to be strong and keep moving. Does he think I am in danger of collapsing on him because I am allowing myself time to be sad? Does my emotion threaten him? Or is he right, that I should not waste time and energy looking back into the past? I want someone to explain to me why I should not be sad, and until I understand I want to cry, in the sunshine.
I walk up a big ass hill to the Home St Pierre youth hostel, again fantasising of a bed. I arrive at 830, the same time as an Asian girl; apparently check in shut at 6pm. She had a reservation but cancelled it. When a girl comes out, we go in. Asian girl follows my lead as I walk the stairs, sit outside the door and ring the bell. I call the other youth hostel in town and it is full. I sit and ring the bell. And ring the bell. Finally some girls answer the door. I tell them we have nowhere to sleep. The managers have gone home, they start making phone calls, and then finally tell us we can have beds. 🙂
I dump my stuff, change, and walk into town. It is so beautiful by the river, near Lake Genève. Again, the water is so crystal clear. Go to a beautiful cafe in a park with a pool and statues and a view, eat warm caramelised apple pie. My feet are aching, I shower and sleep.
Next day, go in search of an ATM to pay for the previous night. I am in a place famous for Swiss banking and yet my card won’t work in any of the ATMs. Finally check out and get the bus out of town. Get off the bus and walk for ages, realising bus 23 would have taken me much further. Think to myself ‘Amateur!!’ Get back on a bus. At the Swiss/France border, I go into a servo to use the toilet and look at a map. I ask the girl where I can ‘stop’ (hitchhike) from, her eyes widen, she gives me advice, and a free sandwich and chocolate. I get the Y bus across the border. The roads in France are much smaller and slower, without the huge onramps like in the German countries. I stand at a roundabout near a paddock of wheat and quickly get a ride. When people are leaving the highway, I get out, and get another ride. A cheerful man, a plumber with a chaotic car picks me up. Whenever I thank the French, they say, Dorien, and then, it is my pleasure. They insist to me, that to help me along my way truly makes them happy. It makes my heart ache a little thinking of Ariel, it is so beautiful.
This plumber, he asks me if I have time, and I say yes, even the clock is ticking. It is Thursday and I have been on the road for 8 days. He tells me that I can’t visit Bellegarde and not see the river. He talks animatedly of his love for the river, of nature, of the smell and the sights. He takes me down and shows me a waterfall. I mostly listen and talk little. When talking of his cat and puppy playing, he imitates them; it makes me laugh and reminds me of Ariel, my eyes well up. I sit by the water.
A ladybug lands on him; he names it Victor after himself, and tells me to make a wish when it flies away.
He asks me if I will come back and visit, I tell him honestly that no probably not, there is so much to see. It is hot and his phone keeps ringing, he is late for a job. He asks me whether I would prefer highway or normal road, I tell him highway, and he drives me there.
A man with a huge moustache picks me up. We are headed to Lyon. Then two girls and a guy. They have been rock-climbing, and again, ask me, aren’t you afraid? They tell me I am courageous. At the servo, the guy pays for my salad (and coloured Tic Tacs?), French guys are like that. He offers me to stay at his house, to come climbing with them, and tomorrow he will drive me where I am going. I consult my pendulum; the girl in the seat next to me raises an eyebrow a little. I decide to continue on the road. I get in a truck with Anthony, he is going all the way to Avignon, I settle in. He speaks French and little English. At the service station in Arles, the sun is setting and he pays for my dinner. I pick up one of the 4 ‘petit sha’ (kittens) wandering around the truck stop and am left with bleeding scratches.
Anthony’s schedule has changed and he is heading to Montpellier the next day, he offers me movies and a ride in the morning. After speaking to the restaurant staff, the manager offers me a bed, and I tell Anthony that I will go. I say goodbye and he is upset with me.
Drive to Christian’s house in Avignon. He is a Leo, a born performer, a singer from Morocco.
His narcissism is kinda amusing but bores me after a while. He reminds me of the first guy I fell in love with. The decor is lovely; I feed them vegemite, and have a shower. We make a table of French words. The lounge room is lovely but his bathroom is filled with dirty clothes. He makes a double bed on the lounge room floor and lies down. Part of me is afraid he will ask me to leave if I do not want him. He kisses me, across the language barrier I attempt to say kiss, on second thought maybe I confused it with the word Fuck. I dimly wonder if Ariel would be pleased with this new experience. In the morning, coffee, then they drop me on Route 7, which leads me to Route 9, which leads to Pau.
Stick out my thumb; get a ride (a man who sells woman’s fashion pieces?), then another ride. Then a lady with a guesthouse in Avignon, who threw out her TV 11 years ago. She tells me about taking pictures- how experience has taught her to just feel the moment, but that when you are young, you want to ‘have’ the moment. With all the pictures I am taking, I can relate. She drops me in Montpellier. I get some cardboard and make a ‘Narbonne, Toulouse’ sign. I go into the ‘Quick’ restaurant, and they have chocolate fudge desserts dairy free! I go out to the huge roundabout and hitch. It takes a while. A truck. To a big roundabout. Quickly a tanned girl who works in the fields gives me a ride. She drops me off and straight away a tiny car crammed full of people, they move across and make room. Two fellow hitchhikers in the back, one 18-year-old girl with a gorgeous feeling to her, she reminds me of Megan. I ask where they are going and they aren’t sure, I love it. They roll cigarettes with the windows down and the tobacco flies around.
The girl with dreadlocks driving is headed to a French festival and offers for me to come and stay at her place and she will drive me tomorrow. I am tempted but decide to move onwards. I hug them all and we trade emails. They drive me out of town to a French toll.
One advantage of France over other countries, scattered throughout the highways are tolls where all the drivers must slow down to pay. Means if the driver I am with is taking an exit, I can get out at the toll just before and don’t have to find a place to hitch. Stand on the divider between the lanes and smile and dance as the drivers stare at me, until I get lucky. The Moroccan, he told me I have a cross on my hand, which denotes good luck. Others have said I am lucky too. Am I? To be born a female, perhaps, is a blessing when hitching, travelling would be much slower if I was a guy tryna get a ride. Also being Australian works in my favour! So an older guy, who is an artist, and performs to make people laugh, picks me up. We drive for a while. As we come through Causconne, he tells me I must see the castle city, stops, we walk into the park, I take a picture. Back in the car, he tells me I can sleep and he will wake me when it is time. I am exhausted and quickly do so. It is raining as we come into Toulouse. I get out of his car at the toll, turn around and stick out my thumb, and roll into the next car that pulls up. Have a mind-blowing conversation with a black man, whose two little girls in the back speak French, Czech, and English. I tell him they are my heroes for their bilingual-ness. He tells me I am his hero for doing what I am doing, for walking my path. He is headed to Pau and drives me all the way into the city.
2180 KM 🙂
And here I am. 7 Avenue de Resistance. Sunday, I slept 15 hours. Staying with Lisa and her boyfriend Nick, Carmen from El Salvador, Delphin, with piercings, who speaks only French, and Antoinne, who speaks English with British accent and is Hugh Grant Adorable. Saturday, caught up with Kay. We had Faro, apple cider beer.
She seemed afraid of the way I am approaching the world, talking of movies like Taken and Hostel, wanting to advise to me be careful. She spoke of the way, with more experience, she would not do what she did when she was younger. It made me flush hot red with embarrassment. Some people feel I am naive, that I do not know there are bad things in the world. I believe the world is conspiring to shower me with blessings, and some people think I am an idiot because of it. Perhaps I am. Perhaps with age, I will grow to see things differently. God I hope not.
Thoughts from on the road:
Fuck my life! I love my life. Fuck my life, I love my life. Ich Bin Mein Lieben: I am my life. Travel can be invigorating, travel can be exhausting. Makes me feel a little bipolar. White people are a canvas, black people are a painting. Crystal clear waters make me feel safe. I have been looking upstream and have been surprised at which way the water goes. Me carrying so much baggage for such a little girl, surprises people. It has been getting heavier not lighter; I think I am going to ditch some underwear. My wisdom tooth started cutting again the day I left Brno, for a while, I was biting on my flesh. The snowboard experience clearly illustrated the way, when I am scared, other people might tell me I can’t do something, but I probably can. A favourite amusing memory, when I first came to Europe, I stood at a revolving door outside a hotel and tried to push it to open on the left, the managers inside looked at me like I was crazy.
Love you all xoxo