The cars go about their own lives, the people in the metallic boxes do not see me and just follow their own routes. Unconcerned about this guy who smiles kindly to them and waves occasionally. “What does he want from us?” their eyes seem to say.
Some wave back, bringing their hands up to their shoulders and shrug, but the only ones that actually do stop are locals who have nowhere to go but who are kind enough for a chat. “He probably needs help,” is what they think.
There are times when you are totally surrendered to a situation. That you know there is nothing else to do but to wait and to do nothing. Nothing. You can only do nothing to change the situation. Feeling pressure is futile, it will only make the situation harder to digest. Pressure only stays in your head, making your thoughts repeat in circles. To resign myself and fully accept the situation as it comes to me, is the only option I have to stay healthy, and positive.
Also on this day, while waiting to cross the border to France and my last rice cookie is behind my teeth. I chew it slowly until it has disappeared fully. I think about eating more. The roadhouse in front of me, next to the petrol station in the Catalan Pre-Pyrenees twenty kilometers before the French border where I have been now for nearly 24 hours, is about to close in some hours.
Shall I just go in and ask for some food? No, I decide. Last night they already gave me a baguette with cheese and a large cake that I used for breakfast. If they would like to give me more, they will offer it to me, as they know I am here, and what I am here for.
I slept well. A wonderful night I had and I look back, full of satisfaction. I arrived here at the end of the afternoon after some fantastic days but I could not find a car to pick me up. Behind the petrol-station in a small wood was the perfect piece of land for my tent. Moreover, it was full moon and thanks to the light that a full moon gives, the view over the mountains and the river that flows towards Barcelona, had been great.
Now I am walking back and forth the rest-area. I’ve been awake for more than eight hours now and I don’t think much. Instead I do my walking meditation: I put my attention to the movements of my body and my breathing. Rest settles over me like a warm soft blanket and the trust remains, that everything will be fine, even though people ignore me and my almost empty belly.
While walking I leave the luggage behind at the outlet of the pump and decide to sit on the rocks in front of the restaurant, without illusions. I keep myself quiet, am not even sticking my thumb up anymore. Until I suddenly see two guys walking towards my luggage, inspecting it, picking up my bag, and starting to walk away with it. I laugh at this interesting situation: would they like to also take me if they know I belong to that luggage?
Unfortunately not. They excuse themselves in French. They thought that the luggage was left behind by the motorcycle club who had just been here. “But maybe you can take me across the border?” I ask. They say that our roads are not the same and leave me standing behind, puzzled a bit. They drive away with two French cars. In the second car I see a free spot, besides a beautiful girl smiling at me and who gives me a curious look. Another story that is not supposed to become one, I say aloud to myself. And I sigh.
Then after half an hour a Dutch car arrives. Let’s check the state of solidarity, me being from that country as well. He goes the other way. “Otherwise, I would definitely haveÂ taken you,” the man says kindly enough and sincerity speaks from his eyes. So I will have to hold on, but for how much longer? Will I sleep here another night, but this time feeling hungry?
More than one hour later, yet another Dutch car arrives, this time with a caravan. Is this it then? Is this my ride? Will I finally be crossing the border? A woman gets out of the passenger door and walks into my direction. Beside the caravan we have a chat. I explain to her who I am and why I’m here. And this is when the miracle happens: she is fine with bringing me across the border, “If my husband is so too”.
And he is, although they “normally don’t take hitchhikers”. I hardly know the joy I feel, after nearly twenty-four hours of waiting and I walk back to the woman, telling her the good news of her husband agreeing, and she looks at me and says: “We first wanted to have dinner at the restaurant. Would you like to have some food too?” How could she tell?! I hadn’t even old her anything about my way of traveling, apart from the hitching.
Half an hour later I’m in the car with them, cheerful and with a happy belly. In the end they decide to take me to their holiday-home further into France, situated within an incredibly beautiful rolling countryside, while during the ride I share stories about my journey without money, and living with what people give me. I will not forget their response: “Perhaps others think so, but for us you are not a bum. What you do, more people should undertake. “
The next day, after some local wine, nice conversations and a good night’s sleep, they put me on the road in direction Toulouse, and they give me some bread for on the road. I also get a jar of peanut butter to go with it. Peanut butter, how much I had been looking forward to you in the past three months! How I have been yearning to have your taste in my mouth and your energy in my body! So yes, everything does come your way, and the peanut-butter was definitely worth the wait.
The original version in Dutch, de originele versie in het Nederlands vind je hier: http://liftenwerkt.nl/2011/04/26/het-wachten-waard/
Beautiful connection, beautifulstory, I love what the Dutch couple told you…
Worth the Wait could be the name of an entire book of hitching stories. This would be my addition if such a book existed:
Thanks for your continuing efforts to chronicle and change peoples thinking