chapter 8,5 the long way home II

Belgium. The next day, after too little hours of sleep we got up early, packed our wet stuff and went to stand two hours in the rain with our thumbs struck out. The cars that used that street during that time could be counted on one hand. We felt so much pity for ourselves.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES We didn´t know what to do, when suddenly a woman stopped. She spoke english and told us she would go towards Luxembourg, but she was really nervous about losing the way, coming late, and a little afraid of taking hitchhikers.. but as she saw us she automatically hit the brakes, so she let us in. After some talking she lost her fear, we reckoned her to be 25 to 30 years old, but she was ten years older and had school children already. When she told us her family came from the dem. republik of Congo, we asked her if she spoke ngala and left her surprised we knew about that language. We told her about the basketball drivers we had met the day before and about our trip to Scotland and back and soon she relaxed and told us her whole family story.

Listening to “the police” we drove north from Ciney to Liége, along the way a hundred posters of that same politician we met yesterday. It was not our direction, but she was nervous, it was a small country road and the talking was nice. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShe dropped us of close to Liége, between some highway crossings we didn´t find on our map. Soon we were lost. Everyone we asked sent us in a different direction. The sun came out and it was hot. We got taken to university, and needed 5 rides to get out of Liége again, back and forth. When waiting for a ride to filf we realized we were standing next to a poor dead dog. The it started raining heavily but luckily a guy stopped and despite our french knowledge of less than 5 words we still managed to talk about the weather. From Tilf a woman took us to the gas station on the highway and about 30 minutes later – early afternoon we were again close to the place we had started this morning. Sometimes hitchhiking means going one step back and two forth, or going in circle. A nice truck driver with aweful music taste took us until somewhere in southern Belgium, Tom talked to him while I tried to ignore the music (russian disco?) and sleep. Where he left us, (sun and heat again) we found a german car going to almost our city, but instead of taking they prefered to insult us and rushed off. Across Luxembourg and through France we drove through a big thunderstorm with enormous thunder, lightening an rain with a portuguese woman, that looked like 30 but had a sons that were older than us. She turned wrongly and drove on a highway on a bad direction for her, but good for us, but in the end it was noot that much detour for her. She dropped us off close to Metz in France and invited us for a coffee both practising our portunhol :-). We said goodbye with kisses on the cheek. Then we met Karol, a polish hitchhiker who accompanied us tablediving. Good food!

The sunlight faded (sun again) but we were determined to make it to Augsburg that same day/night. But two hours later it was pitched dark, raining heavily and I reading a book inside the service station and Tom asking the drivers protected by the rain in the door. I made friends with some spanish truck drivers about to go to sleep. Later Tom went to the restaurant and asked the waitress if they would throw all the food away by the end of the day. They gave him a big tupper with warm rice, curry, vegetables, humus and two forks :-).

A while later we found a driver. He lived close to Strassbourg and agreed to carry us, “normally” he never gives hitchhikers lifts, but “we looked so nice”. So, we drove through the rain and the night and the guy told about his work as an organ builder and repairer (church-pianos). Tom told him about some John Irving book, they talked and talked about their lives and families and exchanged emails, while I listened to the rain and almost fell asleep. He took us to Kehl which is right across the german border. We were happy to be in the country of cheap beer again (especially in england I missed it) but then the employee reminded us that in Baden-Württemberg after 22h you cannot buy alcohol. Welcome! So, instead, we told ourselves to try to reach home, which was only 300km away. I had been at the same gas station when I hitched back from Barcelona last year and it went well. But then it did not. There were lots of cars all night through, but all locals, or people with luggage and kids. It was really cold that night, we dumpstered some bread, but inside there ws no place to sleep and outside it was raining and to pitch the tent we would have had to go and find a park or something. So we kept trying in spite of nearly falling asleep standing and with open eyes. And it was too cold to sleep. We tried all night, and asked a million people (Tom asked I was too tired) and at 7:30 in the morning it stopped raining, we bought coffee (on of the best coffees of my life) and a girl told us to jump in.

She was going to work, working as a kind of ambuland worker for nestlé. That was weird, because she actually looked nice, but at the same time loved this job.. She left us on the forst gas station on the highway towards Karlsruhe, Baden or Raststatt or somethin like that. There we stood about an hour, on the next – only about 20km further- it was the same. I was soo tired, exhausted and cold I could not stand, I wanted to pitch the tent and sleep. Poor Tom must have hated me. There we met 3 hitchhikers with skateboards who went from poland to spain in 4 days and back in 3 and we even found a ride for them going straight to poland. I don´t recall how we got to Pforzheim, I think it was another military-afghanistan man (they are many!). There sun came out, suddenly it was too hot again and a nice truck driver saw us and gave us to cold bottles of apple juice with mineral water. He could read our minds! Thank you. Next hing I remember is the Autobahnsicherheit that came and insulted us, shouting something like we were a danger for traffic, the drivers, ourselves and everyone and how we could be so impudent and walk on the highway (we were on a truck-parking thing)..

Five minutes later we met some austrians that came from buying a Porsche. They were really cool. Driving fast, listening to good electronic music, watching the windmills and fields fly by, listening their stories about drugs, car accidents and working as a luxus-personal, fitness-wellness-trainer. They took us all the way to Augsburg. It was a hot sunny day in the end, people looked at us as if we were drunk. We kind of felt that way, too. What the lack of sleep can cause! In total we hitched 3750 km and had 4 consecutive nights of very little/no sleep. Then we cooked, ate and slept (in a real bed!), and had a shower! These things you can only truly appreciate after such trip!

but after some lazy days feet and thumbs start itching again…



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