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The Way Is The Goal

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Worth The Wait

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 have 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.

Recap Portugal Trip

Oh Portugal. How much I loved hitching, cycling and hiking on your roads, your dunes, and cliffs. Wild nature, and wonderful people. Amazing hospitality and what an experience to do all this without money! Just going around the bars and restaurants asking for left-overs, and many times the food would just appear right in front of me. Eating fruits of trees and finding veggies all along my path, and people inviting me over.

From North to South, literally from the furthest border to the most opposite side, by walking and hitching and staying over in Vila Nova de Cerveira, Viana do Castelo, Porto, Espinho, Mira, Coimbra, Talasnal, Tomar, Lisboa, Seixal, Alcácer do Sal, Carvalhal, Sines, Porto Covo, Vila Nova de Millfontes, Almograve, Odemira, Zambujeira, Azenha, Odeceixe, Rogil, Aljezur, Sagres, Salema, Lagos, Silves, Benafim, Vilamoura,  São Brás de Alportel, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António.

Highlights are numerous, and I am still writing my stories. But one of my personal favourites was Vila Nova de Millfontes, the second town on my unplanned hiking trail. I arrived in the morning, after walking for 6 hours by moonlight over the highest dunes I had ever seen. Coffee and breakfast was given by a nursery, and lunch was provided by some Bulgarians with a restaurant. But my path was blocked by a river and the bridge was far, and I wanted to cross in a more traditional fashion. So I decided to wait at the harbor for a local to bring me across by boat, which happened, without much waiting involved. His ex-wife was Dutch, and so he liked me. My first time hitching on a boat!

robokow

Recapping my experience, I finally had time to publish my photos. Not all of them, as I lost half of my photo-collection after being deprived from my computer, money and phone in the beginning of my way. But that reality was not as bitter as it may appear, as that triggered a set of events that changed my perspective on life tremendously. Ah, where life brings you when you simply surrender and trust!

Roaming Around Portugal

Green hills, spectacular sunrises and sunsets, smashing views over cliffs and dunes, great food and a wonderful culture. I thought I was going to be here for two weeks, but Portugal already has got me going for eight.

I was on my way for the Third European Hitchhiking Festival but I got stranded in the north of Portugal, just over the border with Galicia in Spain, for my own private festival: a weekend of learning, re-finding myself (after a couple of really intense hitching-days) and getting inspired by new experiences and understandings of life.

And that understanding is what kept me going for the past 8 weeks, having experienced some of the most beautiful rides in my life, and the warmest hospitality. I also went on an exploration of nature here, as I followed a hiking-trail for about seven days along the coast in Southern Portugal. It was wonderful to be away from people for such a long time and to be so close with nature.

Ever since I arrived in Portugal I also have lived with zero money, receiving food from restaurants, snackbars and people. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask, and it just appears in front of you! I have been very greatfull to learn how traveling without money works. And I can assure you: it ain’t the easiest way, but sure it is the most rewarding.

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