I spent the whole of yesterday on the roadside trying my luck at extremely low-cost transportation by sticking out my thumb to passing motorists. With me, holding hand made signs and jumping up and down excitedly were a group of hippies from the Rainbow Festival on there way South, a pair of caffeine addicted Venetians obnoxiously waving a Hungarian flag and praying on their knees in supplication to passing cars, and the most surprising of all another American, from Rochester. From Rochester! No names were addressed, no use for that as each person gets lucky and the next drives away.
I waited at the exit of McDonalds on the M1/M7 split. I was told by Hitchwiki.org (a fabulous website designed as a cyber encyclopedia for Hitchers all throughout the world on what are the best spots, how to be safe, and how to have a good time), that this was a good place, and for all the rest it was. It was my first time ever hitch hiking and I learned quite a bit about the process, the first of which is – if it moves, take it. Second is, you have to be flexible and the third and the most important is hope, motivation to continue standing and waving, smiling, jumping, soliciting, talking, and thumbing. Patience is what drove me there.
I stood for six hours, by the time the sun set and all the rest had gone, I shouldered my pack and returned to the city. I would be lying if I didn’t feel defeated, my signs rolled into the pack and my thoughts drifting toward the negative. I walked back through the city, under glowing lamps and cracked sidewalk, until I stopped.
I physically could not walk another step.
Not for lack of energy, I was just tired of the negativity that seemed to flow through me so well and the positive so absent. I vowed right there in the bus lane not to take another step until my thoughts and my actions were positive. I have to admit I was standing there for a while, luckily this particular road was closed for construction and there was no passing cars.
I look down at my feet, a white line stretches into the distance, not straight but a zig zag. Back and forth, side to side, backwards and forwards again – there is progress. Like my failures, there are successes and eventually I will reach my goal.
I can buy a ticket on a train, I can rent a hostel, eat at a restaurant – but what the heck is the fun in that? Why not couch surf for free, volunteer with HelpX.org or WWOOF.org, cook your own food and stick out your thumb on the motorway. I am in search of a good story to bring back home – a mission that I have learned has more potential than the romantic dream to farm across Europe. Injecting myself into the lives of people in a car, in an apartment, on a farm has allowed me move out of my delicate cocoon of comfort and into a world of danger, fun, love, romance, safety, interest… keep this going.
With this in mind, I am now going to be helping out with Autumnal duties on a farm in Hungary, a small town named Szentgotthard, right near the Austrian border. Two Belgians are building an organic goat farm, with over 300 horned creatures, milking, gardening, splitting wood (my favorite). I am not headed to Prague after all, and that is okay for me – perhaps I meet up with some friends in France after seeing Slovenia and a speck of Italy. Stay flexible, be patient, and keep trying to find a good story – and you’ll be fine.