Following my recent post on hitchhiking where I shared advice on how to get started, I’ve decided to compile some stories from within the hitching community. Be warned: Some of these stories involve helicopters, wild animals, parties, drugs, biker gangs and most importantly, amazing examples of human kindness and generosity. So strap on your seat belts guys, this is going to be fun.
Hippo Traffic Accident
From Gabriela of www.gabrielahereandthere.com
“I have hitchhiked around the world, but one of my most memorable and unusual hitchhiking experience happened in Africa. I was backpacking there solo, and I had somehow ended up in the middle of nowhere in Botswana. I was planning to travel to Namibia, but I had no clue how to get there because there was a national park between me and the Namibian border. I spoke to the local people and they told me that there are no busses, but it’s possible to hitchhike. I got a ride to the entrance of the national park, where I then waited for my next ride.
I didn’t have to wait for long; the first car that drove past picked me up. It was a pickup truck already carrying loads of people, but I managed to squeeze in. The journey through the national park was exciting and we saw elephants and giraffes on the way. Then something unexpected happened. A hippo traffic accident. Yes, you read that right! There was another car driving towards us when a hippo appeared out of nowhere and hit the car. In case you didn’t know, hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa, and yes, they attack cars. I have had scary encounters with hippos before, but this was the first time I saw a hippo traffic accident. We stopped to check that everyone was alright. The people were fine, but the hippo was lying on the ground on its back, legs pointing straight up. People were trying to turn the hippo around so that it could walk away, but it was so heavy that they were having a hard time. I don’t know what happened to the hippo…but it definitely made my hitchhiking experience so much more interesting.”
Caught in a Parade!
From Dan & Tom – UK @danlikesnaps
“My friend Tom and I were in Southern France at the time. We left work as soon as possible with two other lads with a plan to race to Barcelona. We started in Ruoms for a quick drink and then set off in different directions out of the village. The first night we got as far as Nimes, where we ended up piling into what was either a very tiny shed or a child’s play house sort-of-thing outside the French version of Home Depot. The next morning, we made it just south of Montpellier where we got quite stuck. All the cars passing were heading in the opposite direction to us. After about 3 hours, we decided to head back to Montpellier and start back from the city.
When we got there we decided to go have a look around. We came across a huge crowd and could hear really loud music so we forced our way through to see what the crack was. Tom pointed out all the rainbow flags flying around the area. Soon, we realised that it was the Pride flag. As we wandered up the streets, the procession came towards us and we were greeted by transvestites in wedding dresses, ass-less leather trousers and dominatrix outfits to name just a few. I suddenly remembered being told that gay marriage had just been legalised in France the week before. Tom and I joined the procession through the town and had a blast celebrating the occasion with everyone.”
Helicopter Rides and Champagne Buckets
From Joris – Belgium
“I had just spent a few weeks in the area around Taupo, on the north island of New Zealand. Hiking, biking and generally having a good time with a bunch of lovely people. On the last day, some sweet German girls dropped me off at a junction which turned out to be an awful spot for hitchhiking. Normally I would get a ride pretty fast, but this day I had to wait a long time and even thought I may not get picked up. A few cars stopped but they couldn’t take me further than a couple kilometers at a time. I was holding out for the long haul. All of this, combined with the sun beating on me brutally with no place to take shelter, caused my motivation to drop deep down. In these moments, you question yourself ‘why didn’t I just stay home and watch TV?’
Finally, a car stopped. The owner, Jason, told me he had to go 30km further and that he could drop me off at a junction there. I happily agreed, if only for the AC which welcomed me from inside. During the ride we spoke about why I was going to New Plymouth. He mentioned a better idea, that I join him for the helicopter ride he was on his way to. From feeling lower than low earlier that day, I was now in a helicopter, flying over lake Taupo, lapping up some of the most stunning scenery imaginable. My adrenaline levels where definitely sky high, and at that moment I knew why I wasn’t at home watching TV. Afterwards, he took me out for pizza and drinks. We stayed in touch, and 6 months later when I was travelling back through, we met up again. I lived in his house for 2 weeks. The house had a pool, a jacuzzi with a mini bar in reach. We also went sailing and drank champagne by the bucket- hows that for a hitchhiking story!”
Motorcycle Gangs and Baby Wipes
From Danie http://www.likeridingabicycle.com/
“I was in Australia, and it was my first time hitchhiking alone. In fact, I’d only hitchhiked a couple times with someone to show me the ropes, so I was practically brand new to it. After being dropped off by a kind elderly couple at a gas station, I stood near the entrance ready to ask people if they were heading my direction as they pulled up.
Meanwhile, a large group of motorcyclists hung around the gas station. Of course, I wasn’t going to ask them for a ride with my huge backpack; I’d fall right off. Then one looked at me. “Where are you headed?” he asked. “Darwin, and you?” “Same.” “If you weren’t on the bikes I’d ask for a ride!” I cheerfully responded (I always get along with bikers for some reason). He then explained that actually, two of them were in a truck rather than on the bikes, so I could catch a ride. Sweet!
I soon learned they were a notorious motorcycle gang in Australia, the Rebels. Your first instinct is probably that this story is now going to go terribly wrong, but I assure you it does not; while they get a bad rep, everyone I’ve met in a motorcycle gang has been absolutely lovely. We hit the road and after a while decided to stop to take a leak. As I was about to head to the bushes, one of the motorcyclists gave me baby wipes… that had Winnie the Pooh on the outside of the box.
“Oh, real bad-ass bikers with your Winnie the Pooh baby wipes!” I laughed.
“It was for our friend who got injured,” one explained.
“Oh, bike accident?”
“No, knife accident. You don’t mess with him when he’s on acid.”
I stopped asking questions and went off to do my business.
I returned and off on the road we went. A little ways further, one pulled out a PowerAde bottle filled with red liquid that looked like, well PowerAde. After each taking a small sip from the lid, one turned to me and said in the loveliest way, “Would you like some liquid amphetamine?” I politely declined, and we continued on our way, arriving safe and sound in Darwin.
Trip Gone Wrong
From Sid – Australia
“My first time hitchhiking was in winter last year when some friends and I decided to go an adventure whilst tripping on acid. The day started off typically at a hostel; everyone had the day off, we were smoking a lot and wanted to get our trip on. We walked by the Bow River (Canada) towards the Hoodoos. We figured the wilderness is a much better place for an adventure than the staff accommodation block. The guys with me weren’t prepared and didn’t bring winter boots. The walk was amazing, following the river as we waited for the acid to hit. We then started trying to playfully break through the ice, which which was when things started to go sour.
Believe it or not, we smashed through the thick ice and two peoples’ feet took a dip in a freezing cold Canadian river during the height of winter. Bad move. We realised it was time to go back to the hostel and sort this out. After making it to the Hoodoos, we climbed the river bank towards the road. We found an older couple in the car park and asked if they could take the two wet people back to the hostel. They eventually agreed, even offering some dry socks to stop them freaking out. So, two of us were in the car and two of us decided we would have to walk back. As we started walking home, my friend put his thumb out and before we know, it a couple of Aussies pull over and want to know our life story. They really saved us because sh*t was getting real right about now.
As we got closer to the hostel, we saw a car in the ditch. The Aussies pulled over offering to help. My buddy and I looked at each other thinking “F*ck, isn’t that the car our mates are in?” We were in no shape to even speak, let alone offer any kind of help. Thankfully, it wasn’t them and there was no one in danger. We continued to the hostel and found our friends had safely made it back, now with warm feet. I have learnt from this that no matter what situation you are in, people are always willing to help when you are in need. And if you’re tripping like crazy, it’s best to just let them know straight away.”
A Spanish Prison and Beautiful Girls
From James – UK @jam350
“At the end of a trip traveling around Spain, Morocco and the Sahara, feeling inspired, we decided to hitchhike back to England from Northern Africa. Many crazy things happened along the way, but at one point, we got a little bit stuck trying to get a lift out of Córdoba. We made a plan for the next day, to hopefully improve our chances. We found out about a motorway service station on the edge of the city, which is apparently an ideal spot to hitchhike from. Even better, you can get there on the local bus for around a euro. The only catch was, the bus route ends at the city prison and we’d have to trek about a mile from there.
The next morning, we found ourselves on a bus to the prison, full of inmate’s wives, which was pretty rare, as were the bewildered looks they gave us, probably wondering what two backpackers were doing visiting a prison in central Spain. After arriving at the prison and escaping the area as quickly as possible, we made it to the service station, where we tried to get a ride for a good few hours. At this point, we were about to give up and head back into town. We started saying to each other “where’s our luck gone, why can’t we get a lift with some beautiful girls for a change?”.
No more than 30 minutes later, two girls in bikinis rolled into the service station. They told us that they had just got back from Morocco as well and were heading home to Madrid, which was around 250 miles away. They were excited to hear about our adventures, so they gave us a lift the whole way to Madrid! Over the course of the journey, we got along really well, so much so that they offered for us to stay with them in Madrid. We were greeted by their family and friends with open arms, arriving just in time to watch the Madrid derby with a few cold beers. We joined them for lavish meals of authentic Spanish food where got to know the whole family. We even got to have a dip in the pool! When we left to explore Madrid and continue our journey, they invited a friend over to make us a detailed plan of where to visit, go clubbing and of course, where to find the best reggae bars. Just when we were about to give up, we were shown hospitality and generosity far beyond anything we expected, out on the road.”
Truly, amazing events will happen when you decide to take a leap into the unknown when you free yourself and let life flow over you. These are the moments worth remembering. So to all those who are planning to hitch, stay safe, watch out for biker gangs and beautiful girls…oh and yeah, happy hitching!
Looking for travel inspiration? Check out our other articles and get inspired!
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