In my last post I mentioned our intention to hitchhike a 1200 km long path between Paris and Tordera in Spain.
We did not decided to hitchhike due to money concerns although a free ride is a substantial save on such a long way. Traveling through France can be very expensive, actually a plane journey (beside hitchhiking) would be a smartest choice.
Travel can be so much nicer
But why by plane if you can see so much beauty of French landscape in the meantime – travelling from Paris to south, including the French National Park which offers breathtaking sights even only looking through a car window.
Furthermore, why by plane if you can meet so many interesting people along the way, hear many stories, see their way of thinking and experience everything that God wants to reveal you through these encounters.
Opening the treasures
This way of travel enables you to look for a moment in lives of other people, other-ways hidden from your gaze.
Just think, so many people, travelling past you every day, each one with its own story, its own experience and life learning. If you knew their stories, how many new things you could find out, how many treasure-boxes you could open!
Our world is a rich world, but often we are so burdened by our lives that we forget to enjoy world’s treasures at all.
On our way from Paris
Our first day we had a chance to look into lives of five people. We were driven from Paris to some shopping center on the highway by a young cute couple, both avid travelers. They traveled Australia and enjoyed the heights of Australian mountains. He’s an entrepreneur, she is osteopath who once wants to work independently in the field.
From shopping center onward, we have been driven by a mom and a daughter. Mother is from Morocco, a teacher of elementary school, which herself has traveled a lot around the world. Simple, cheerful and talkative. Without hesitation, she made a few extra kilometers out of their way to put us off in a convenient location from where we could continue our hitchhike.
Elodi is a young student of accounting at Business School in Orleans. Never before she has stopped hitchhikers, but this time she said, ‘why not’. Nice travel and relaxed conversation on the lives of young people in France.
We reached Orleans quite late already, at 4 PM. Hitchhiking is unpredictable and we were concearned.
We almost doubted to be able to reach Clermont-Ferrand that day, where we have already rented ourselves a room through Airbnb portal. Our intention was to use a town as a starting point for Spanish Tordera the next day.
Trust is needed. No trust is no good in life and with hitchhiking particularly.
In spite of the fact that there were 300 kilometers still to be traveled and in spite of the fact that it was getting dark already, we continued our journey and didn’t want to think about possible failure.
In Orleans, we settled beside a highway access road and raised our fingers for direction of the town of Vierzon. Soon, one more sympathetic teacher stopped us. She dedicated her life to teaching the children with special needs and among other things, she spent one month voluntary working with African children in Congo.Trust is needed. No trust is no good in life and with hitchhiking particularly. Click To Tweet
From Vierzon to Bourges we were taken by a young couple. Unfortunately they did not speak English so we were limited to a few Spanish words. But nonetheless, we were glad to move a further 100 kilometers forward.
Moments of uncertainty
When we got out of car on bypass road, at the toll charges station, it was already eight in the evening. Another half an hour and it will begin to get dark, but we were still 193 km away from our destination. Time was our enemy now and we knew that we can barely make it.
After twenty minutes of hitchhiking in vain, we already prepared a scenario that none of us liked actually. To sleep outdoors. The place where we were located was not bad for something like that, a lot of space beside the road, lush greenery and a few suitable places, where we could place our sleeping bags.
The interference from above
It’s not up to us anymore. An interference from above would be needed, if we wanted to reach Clermont-Ferrand with a comfortable bed that day. But trust is always a good value!
Almost loosing all hope since the day has turned to night, a taxi car approached us. A TAXI lady in her BMW opened a window and invited us in.
We replied not being able to afford a 200 km TAXI ride, she just smiled and said she was returning home to Clermont-Ferrand and can take us to our accommodation free of charge. You can imagine our joy, relief and surprise.
A TAXI drive
It turned out that lady had earned an excellent revenue that day, when she transported a customer form Clermond-Ferrand to Bourges and totaling 580€ of revenue that day. Why would she drive back home all alone? God’s providence?
So, our first day according to the plan, with a lot of uncertainty, but also a lot of luck! We arrived to the city at 23 o’clock in the evening and slept in a warm, soft bed, both tired from a long way. It could have been otherwise.
The next day, we departed later than planned. We needed sleep and we wanted to be fresh for new ride. Who knows what a day brings.
Our first destination was city of Issoire. From Clermont-Ferrand, we were first stopped by a lady which took us only 30 km further. From there to Issoire we drove with a friendly chef, who was transporting food for his restaurant in the nearby town of Issoire.
In Issoire, suddenly it all stopped. We were standing on a perfect hitchhiking location; close to shopping center where hundreds of vehicles entered a highway. But I guess Saint Flour was not meant for us, where our second stop was planned.
We traveled in direction of Montpellier, where we could later on cross the border with Spain by train and continue our way towards Girona, where Laura was expecting us. With her, we had agreed previously for the accommodation through CouchSurfing portal.
Then it was all quiet
After four hours of unsuccessful hichhiking under the hot French sun, we decided to go to the nearby McDonalds to eat and cool down a bit. We also had to explore the possibility of transport delivered by the portal Bla Bla Car, where you can find the ride by anyone who is traveling with the car at a low price.
According on the circumstances, we in fact had strong doubts that we will eventually manage to get to Spain by hitchhiking. Much of the trail was still in front of us and it was already four in the afternoon.
There weren’t many drivers to Montpellier so our Bla bla car option was out of the question. We were practically forced to go back hitchhiking.
The interference from above – part 2
After one hour the previous day scenario has been repeated. We have almost accepted the fact that we will have to spend the night somewhere in this city, in the open air, when finally, after six hours, a car, which was heading to our direction, stopped us.
A young man decided to open the door to his car. He was otherwise a real adventurer. He traveled much of the world, from Europe to South America. For some time, he lived and worked in Australia, but now lives in a small village with mere 12 inhabitants on a hill close to Saint-Flour and enjoys a peaceful life and nature.
Like yesterday with TAXI lady, God sent us this man to our path. He could not take us to the Spanish border, but only 30 km away to the main (and last) gas station before the French regional park Grands Causses (Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses). From there most people travel directly to the south of France or even to Spain. Ideally, maybe we can succeed anyway.Hitchhiking - a story full of uncertainty and trust Click To Tweet
The service station was actually full of cars. This was their last station before long journey to the south and most of them were headed precisely to where we wanted to go as well.
A Spanish car
Already after 15 minutes, a car with Spanish registration approached the station. Two men stepped out and I was literally catapulted towards them from the benches where we were sitting. I approached them, explained them that we were heading toward Barcelona, specifically in the nearby town of Girona and they agreed to take us with them.
Think of it, 500 kilometers, not only to a French-Spanish border but to Girona itself – just where we wanted to go.
Precious birds business
The two men traveled from Belgium. When they opened the trunk, where we could lay down part of our luggage, we saw at least six cages with the birds’ offspring. Yes, you read it right.
They explained to us that this is a very rare species of bird and every one of these little critters is worth more than €1,000. We did not want to delve into this business, even though we were keen to hear that in Belgium the birds are worth half as much as in Spain.
In any case
Before we drove from the station, Silva whispered to me that just in case she wrote down the car registration number and sent it to our host Laura in Tordero (28 km from Girona). Previously we had never done this. You never know. 🙂 Although the driver’s name was Jesus (in Spain this is a fairly common name), however, we did not want to let things happen on an odd coincidence.
Traveling with Jesus was absolutely beautiful, landscape, stretching on the way to Spain literally took our breath away and we were grateful that we nevertheless managed to achieve this aim, although half an hour ago it still seemed impossible to reach.
But we could not get away without complications. What would life be without them, right? At 23 pm at night we reached the town of Girona in Spain and our drivers have decided to stop the car on a highway lane, next to the access road to the town. It was dangerous and frankly, we were worried about how to get from that place in complete darkness and approach completely unfamiliar town.
We were passed by many cars so we swiftly took away our things so that the bird merchants could continue their drive as soon as possible.
The car drove away – too fast!
When we put heavy travel backpack along the highway fence and the car drove forward, we looked at each other in surprise.
Silva: ‘Nace, is it only me or Jesus just took away our computer bags with him?’
The last thing we needed! Not only did we have to reach an unknown town in most inappropriate time of the day, but we were also left without any computer equipment, a most precious tools for our path!
What can we do? We knew nothing about our drivers and God only knows where our bags are headed. But we had one thing. The car plate registration number. However the real adventure to refocus our direction of a journey has only just begun. But find more on this in our next article.
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