What a week. I went hard for seven days straight, implementing austerity measures and trimming for speed. So much happened Im gonna rock it point-form style for your perusing pleasure.
Thurs Oct 6 2011 – A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step…
I was supposed to leave Rota early in the morning and catch the ferry to Cadiz to leave with the two Annas in their rental car for Gibraltar and from there, Malaga. However, I woke up late as the bed at Ricky´s place was dumb comfortable. With a heavy heart, I emailed and called the Annas and let them know I would not make it in time and they should go on without me. Fortunately, Ricky was at the same time hosting Wolfgang and Javier who were also heading to Cadiz to pick up a car and head south, not as far south, but it was a start.
-Wolfie and Javier dropped me off at a rest station about half an hour south of Cadiz. I was reticent to start hitchiking on a freeway but I figured I had ground to cover and nobody ever got anything done by being a pussy (Courage Wolf)
-picked up almost immediately by Jose who drove fast and got me 10 km shy of Tarifa. dope!
-after climbiong some medieval tower on the side of the road I began hitching again and was picked up by three Russians, Sergei Andrej and Dimitri, who took me all the way to Tarifa. NOTE: my name is Sergio Andre Jose and at this point I had been picked up by a Sergei, an Andrej and a Jose all in the same morning and afternoon. What are the odds?
-Kept walking east to Gibhraltar and got scooped up by Bianca, a sweet lady and the first solo female to pick me up on this trip. She took me to Algeciras (pronounced like Al-Jazeera in plural), and advised me to stay off the freeway. I didnt listen. Walked all the way from Algeciras to La Linea, the city outside Gibraltar because nobody apparently wanted to stop on the highway to pick me up. Slept on a secluded sand dune in sight of the Rock of Gibraltar
PROGRESS MADE: Rota to La Linea
Fri Oct 7 2011
-Woke up with the sun after a fitful sleep and began walking the last few kilometres to Gibraltar. When I got there I was struck by how dissimilar it was to Spain. Ive never been to London but it was what I pictured London looking like (ie red telephone booths)
-I searched the streets for mens pants because my beloved desert camo cargos had gotten ripped by the crotch the previous day and I decided they were beyond repair. found some tight fitting green cargos at a store called peacock. Theyre very…lets say European. But tight pants are better than no pants.
-took the bus to the Strait of Gibraltar to have a burial at sea for my cargos. This may seem weird but you must understand that these pants had been with me for many adventures and furthermore had not been stolen in Madeira. They had great sentimental value to me and it upset me to part with them. I hopped over a wall to a cliff overlooking the sea. After weighting them with a rock, pouring some brandy on them and a quick eulogy I threw them in the drink. It was a fitting end for a worthy pair of pants
-walking back through Gibraltar to Spain I noticed a sign for a Royal Air Force hangar (RAF). It occurred to me that as a member of NATO and the Commonwealth to boot, I may be able to arrange a service flight (free flight on military cargo planes) if they were wont to provide them, After doin some asking, I got a hold of a sergeant named Alec who told me that they didnt do Indulgence Flights, (most of their planes were tied up in Afghanistan) but that I should come to the mess for some beers, it being noon on a Friday and therefore quitting time for military personnel (this rule applies in Canada too). I could fucks with this and after they fed me a few beers (I wanted to pay but only had euros and they took pounds), I bid them adieu and had a wobbly walk back to Spain.
– got picked after about an hour or so by Toby who took me all the way to Malaga airport. This was rather seredipitous as they two Annas were there waiting for a flight back to Holland and I got to say a proper goodbye, plus a free place to sleep (if you can tolerate the announcements every ten minutes and people walking around near your head, airport terminals make great sleeping spots). I had made it to Malaga and only a day later than planned. Would such luck hold out?
PROGRESS MADE: La Linea to Gibraltar to Malaga
Sat Oct 8 2011
-got woken up by starbucks guy at airport who said I couldnt sleep in their restaurant area. took the bus (driver was a prick) from the airport to Malaga proper to begin the journey to Granada. stopped at a farmers market for some veggies, cheap bread and expensive coffee, and plus because it would make my woman happy because shes loves farmers markets (nerd)
-walked north on the freeway cause I decided that was how I was gonna roll from now. after a couple of hours got a lift at a gas stn from a German dude and Hungarian girl who took me just a few clicks up the road til the cutoff for thier destination. No swet though because I got pìcked up soon thereafter by Stefano, Theresa and Hannah, who were traveling, wouldnt you know it, to Granda. At this point I was convinced noone could really fuck with me when it came to this whole hitchhiking shit. But pride goeth before a fall, as I would soon find out
-after doing a tour of the city and getting some tapas (ps they do tapas right in Granada; whereas many Spanish cities market tapas as a menu item, in Granada you order a beer for 2 euros and they bring you food with it, were talking good sized appetizer portions here) I parted ways with my new friends and began the frustrating walk out of Granada. With the noontime sun not providing a great directional reference and no compass to speak of I was desperately trying to find someone who spoke English well enough and who knew directions well enough to point me to a highway out of the city. I ended up walking from one end to the other. While frustrating, i admit i did do some great sightseeing. by the end though I had my first freakout and started cursing loudly the stupid fucks I was surrounded by who didnt even know their own city.
-finally I chanced upon a British Petroleum station, a good sign because petrol means highways. I instantly forgave them for the spill in the gulf of Mexico and managed to thumb a quick lift to the highway east, and then another lift about 40 km to Guadix. I thought my fortune had taken a turn for the awesome but it was the beginning of the hardest 24 hours of the week.
-while walking east on the highyway, la Guarda Civil Traffico (Spanish OPP essentially) stopped me and told me to get the fuck off the freeway. grudgingly I did and headed into Guadix. I found out there were no national roads (ok to walk on with enough traffic to make hitching possible), only freeways (which I had gotten kicked off of) and the service road (no traffic to speak of). Still over 200 km from the next major city of Murcia I found myself in somewhat of a SNAFU but resolved to check the bus stn.
-the estacion por autobus looked like a dilapadated building from Fallout 3. I found out that they only did service to Granada on weekends and after making my escape from there I sure as fuck wasnt going back
-went into the bathroom to rock a piss. the flicking dim light was creepy enough but then I heard shambly footsteps and Darth Vader breathing approaching. My butthole clenched up and I thought shit, Im gonna die in this one burro town. Fortunately, it was not Don Diego de la Vader, but some old Spanish man with a tube in his neck likely from years of smoking. After reasoning that I could probably kick his old Spanish ass if he tried anything, I felt a lot better
-I resolved to head to the service road and head east all night in the nearly full moonlight. I went a little crazy this night as I was by myself in the desert and I realized that if someone came up on me and wanted to MDKR me, (murder death kill rape) I really wouldnt have much help forthcoming. Thus ignoring my hitching instincts, I made a game of jumping into the bushes and canyons which adorned the side of the road every time a vehicle appraoched. my heart was beating in my chest and the adrenaline made me forget that I was in bare feet and stepping in thorns, rocks, etc.. Plus I did all this while cradling a carton of wine, which perhaps contributed to my mania
-sometime after midnight I reached Ville Hernan and slept in the moonlight under a tree
PROGRESS MADE: Malaga to Granada to Guadix to Ville Hernan
Sun Oct 9 2011
-got up before the sun and got on the highway just as the sun was rising over the mountains. it was incredibly beuatiful and I figured at this early hour I could get a couple hours of hitching on the freeway in before the next shift of traffic cops putt a stop to my antics
-grabbed a coffee from a rest stop and after another hour of walking I noticed a police jeep westbound getting off the ramp. I thought for sure he was going to get on the eastbound portion and kick me off the highway. however, to my shortlived delight he kept on going down the street he exited on. I fancied myself untouchable and kept on
-half an hour later I was approaching a bridge which spanned a canyon and I saw two motorcycle cops (the kind who had kicked me off the highweay the previous evening) approaching westbound. I had no illusions about it: they were after me. I waited til they were out of sight and hopped over the bridge into the canyon below. It was steep and rocky with thorns, vines and thorny vines. I felt a little like Cool Hand Luke ducking the law as I was. After scraping the fuck out of my hands and feet and ankles and every exposed part of my body (ps dont run from the law with flip-flops and a backpack on; it sucks) I made it to the bottom where there were some horses and a river. I peed in the river as I crossed and made my way up the other side of the canyon constantly looking the several hundred feet up to the bridge to see if 5-0 had gotten wise to my escape.
-back on the highway I was thinking how clever I was then BAM, the pigs caught up with me and escorted me off the highwway instructing me to walk this shitty desert dirt road which led to a train station allegedly. I felt a little like Clint Eastwood in The Good The Bad and The Ugly, when Eli Wallach forces him to walk through the desert. I wasn’t too far from where they filmed it which kind of added to the experience. After going what I assume was the wrong way at an unmarked fork in the road I ended up at a another highway rest area where I regrouped and decided that I would sacrfice mobility for the chance of a ride by standing on the rest areas ramp to the highway with my thumb out. This was an ok compromise as 5-0 saw me and let me be. But after hours people kept driving by. It was kind of upsetting when I thought oif how many people passing plain didnt give a fuck about me.
-finally at around 630 this one dude reluctantly said he would take me to Lorca where they had eastbound trains. he was short with me at first but warmed up as we talked (he spoke no English ftr)
-took the train from Lorca to Murcia and crashed in a constrrction site til the next morning
PRGRESS MADE: Ville Hernan to Lorca to Murcia
Monday Oct 10 2011
-caught the early train to Alicante and made it to the beach just in time for a beautiful sunrise over the water. copped some groceries and I was ghost. decided to play it smart and stick to the national roads north to Valencia for hitching so 5-0 wouldnt harrass me. It was slow at first but over the course of the day got five hits if memory serves. Noone took me very far but every little bit helps.
-after the last guy dropped me off just before sunset I proceeded to head east as the prospects for catching a ride diminished with the sun. I had gotten used to hitting a target city per day at this point and was mad I wasnt going to make it to Valenica. Then two police coming from the opposite direction espied me walking with my thumb out and in their infinite cuntery wagged their finger at it. Great! I had just had my first warning which meant that I now had to walk looking over my shoulder so they didnt fine me for catching me again.
-I kept truckin til I got south of Cellura and made camp in one of the Valencia orange groves that had began popping up around me. After several nights of little sleep I crushed a ten hour stint and woke up after the sunrise which was unusual.
PROGRESS MADE: Murcia to Alicante to south of Cellura
Tuesday Oct 11 2011
-I figured Id keep my thumb out as I departed for Cekkura and the train stn there. In my frustration I had resolved to take a train to Valencia and then Barcelona because I had wanted to reach Barcelona within a week of leaving Rota. Maria picked me up and she was the sweetest girl who said something that made me cry. [hitchhiking] is hard, but its beautiful. It was like in Lord of War when the president of Liberia says “bath of blood” instead of “bloodbath” and “lord of war” instead of “warlord,” and insists that he likes his way of saying it better; perhaps she didnt mean beautiful the way we mean beatiful when we say it, but she meant something deeper which resonated with me. she was on her way to class in Valenica and dropped me off near her school where I jumped on the freeway
-getting on the freeway was a mistake because I was trying to throw a hail mary (people on the freeways will typically be going farther than those on national roads) so early in the day and nobody was biting. I found a couple of euros on the side of the freeway and a reflective vest which I attached to my backpack for safety. My feet, which has been suffering all week because I had been walking kilometres every day in shitty flip flops really started to hurt, especially my left ankle. I took a detour in a nearby town where I cursed my bad luck and grabbed some groceries. Although I had previously contemplated hopping a train to Barcelona when my luck was bad, my 11th hour victories always led me to let my luck ride which is why I had proceeded to walk out of Valencia. I was again thinking of resigning my self to a bus when I saw a Johnnie Walker billboard which had the slogan Keep Walking. I took it as a sign (everything is a sign when youre desperate) and limped on, crushing a click or two north on the beach then back to the highway.
-at length on the highway I got picked up by Xavien who spoke English well enough but couldn’t understand it for shit and was hard of hearing, and insisted I sit in the back cause people in the front made him nervous. (you meet all types when hitching). We talked about politics and music and he lamented his wasted life (he wanted to have adventures like me but never did). I tried to reassure him by saying that adventure sucks. I wasnt lying: I was really down on things at that point realizing that I was still 300 km from Barcelona and in pain from walking. Xavien took me 40 km further north of his destination but balked at taking me another 2km to a gas station so left me in the middle of nowhere. I though how very human of him: We all want to do right by each other and we show so much promise in that regard. Then we fuck up the endgame.
-dropping me in the middle of nowhere was a blessing in disguise though because I walked to a BP and began journal writing as an Algerian couple, Ali and Keira got there. Ali said something to me in French then we got to talking and he began asking me about what I was writing. Then his wife began talking to me (neither spoke English btw). When they ascertained that I was going to Barcelona they offered me a ride because it just so happened they were going to Barcelona as well. It was 8 oclock and I had been about to find an orchard to sleep in and I pulled off the 11th hour surprise win of a lifetime. I couldnt believe my luck.
PROGRESS MADE: South of Cellura to Valencia to BARCELONA!!!!!!!! VICTORY
Of course it wasnt luck, because my luck had been shitty all day. Perseverance has been my most important asset on the road. You gotta keep at it especially when it sucks and noone stops for you. My emotions have been up and down all week and I have cried out of despair more than once. But then I have been jubilant and ecstatic too. Im gonna probably crash in Barcelona for one more night before heading to France and then Italy to see my cousin Stephen. It might be a tough road but if youre going through hell, keep going. (Courage Wolf)